The Heart of the Matter


No beauty shines better than that of a good heart. ~Kapten and son

This has been the longest week of my life.  

Last Monday, my husband, Chuck went for a stress test as a follow up to his overnight stay at the hospital a couple of weeks ago.  The doctor called around 5:00 saying they saw a shadow on one of his tests and would like him to come in for a heart catheterization.  

I left for work on Tuesday morning expecting him to schedule the test in the upcoming week, and I would take the day off and go with him.  Well my little chihuahua likes to do things quickly!  I get a phone call at work at 8:15 telling me he going to the hospital by 9:00 to get the test. He said,”Don’t worry, I just need a ride home.” Yeah right!

Of course there was not a sub to be found, but I work with the most awesome group of teachers.  My colleagues gave up their prep times to cover my classes, so that I could leave and go to the hospital.

Honestly, I think that the worst we were expecting was that maybe he would need a stent or two put in.  Can I tell you that I almost fell off my seat when the cardiologist told us that Chuck needed quadruple bypass surgery!?! They wanted us to go home and make an appointment to see the surgeon, but that was not sitting well with my “let’s get it done” husband.  Chuck requested to see the surgeon before leaving the hospital.  One thing led to another and before you know it surgery was scheduled for Friday morning.  

The wait from Wednesday to Friday was interminable.  The surgeon gave Chuck a good prognosis, but there is no stopping your mind from wandering to dark places.  

We joke and laugh a lot, so that seemed to be the best way to handle this situation if we could.  I told him that Friday was the first day of Autumn – my favorite day of the year,  and he had better not ruin it for me!  I also told him if he saw any white lights during surgery not to go towards them. Some people thought that was terrible; he laughed.  He knew I was just doing my best to keep the situation light and not have a total and complete meltdown! We also had our serious quiet moments “just in case.”

Seeing Chuck being rolled away to the operating room was frightening.  I could see the fear in his eyes, and that is not something I am use to seeing from my “rock”. Each good update made me feel a little more relaxed, but it wasn’t until I saw him open his eyes just before midnight that I felt like I could really breathe. Of course in his joking way – the first words out of his mouth when he saw me were, “Ew – a nightmare!”

He is doing well, but we have a long road ahead.  I am just feeling so blessed that we got this second chance at life, because his heart was just a time bomb waiting to explode.  Like everything else that has come our way, we’ll take on this journey together, because after all, two hearts are better than one.



Minus One Day

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you. — A. A. Milne

My husband has been out of work since the beginning of June.  In July he was fortunate enough to get some part time work which we hope will develop into a full time position. Needless to say, we spent a great deal of “quality time” together this summer that we don’t ordinarily get to have.  While we didn’t get to go on a real vacation since money was tight, we found other ways to entertain ourselves.  We got some things done around the house the have been on the “to do” list for quite a while, we watched one too many Lifetime movies, and we laughed a lot.

Chuck and I are high school sweethearts.  We have been together almost 44 years – 37 of them married. I really didn’t think it was possible to feel any closer to him than I already did, but this summer we reconnected on another level.  

Then this past weekend the bond grew even stronger. We had a little health scare.  Chuck felt some tightness in his chest (the result of an uncooperative lawnmower), so we made a trip to the ER. Luckily all his tests came back normal.  They kept him overnight for observation, but he got sprung on Sunday.  

This was a wake-up call, and now we are on the “straight and narrow” path to healthy living; we’ve been down that path a time or two already!  We are getting too old to play games with our health. Our luck will eventually run out.  

All I know is that the past four months or so have cemented what I have always felt since the day I met Chuck – I want my hourglass to run out before his, because I cannot imagine living a day without him.

A New School Year

Great teachers empathize with children, respect them, and believes that each one has something special that can be built upon. ~ Ann Lieberman

Tomorrow I begin another school year.  It never ceases to amaze me how much I love meeting my new students.  No matter who sits in front of me, I enjoy getting to know them.  When I tell people that I teach 7th grade English, they often make anguished faces or ominous sounds.  They think that middle school kids are like some unfamiliar beasts or space aliens.  What do they know?

Middle school kids are just like little kids only in bigger bodies.  They want to be loved and accepted.  They want to please and be successful.  They just have a couple of obstacles in the way – hormones and peer pressure.

I didn’t really enjoy grades 6-7-8.  Believe it or not – I was a NERD!  I spent most of my time reading Nancy Drew mysteries.  My parents were pretty strict, so I wasn’t allowed to do some of the things the other girls were doing.  I played intramural basketball, but I am not athlete.  I wore glasses sans makeup so my eyes looked kind of beady, and the long straight hair of the 70’s did nothing for my then long slender face.  I was never one of the “cool kids” or one of the students that teachers paid any extra attention.  I was a goody-goody and hardly ever got into any trouble which made me almost invisible in class.  I was smart and got good grades, but that wasn’t something you talked about with other kids.  In 7th and 8th grade I had to go to speech class (very new at that time) to correct a lisp.  I hated going out to speech – well until 8th grade when the captain of the basketball team had to go too.  I had a terrible crush on him!

When my students come through the door tomorrow and every day this year, I want them to know that I care about who they are not just what grades they earn.  I don’t want them to feel the way I did in middle school.  I survived, but thriving, not surviving should be the goal of education!