If you’ve wondered whether I dropped off the face of the earth for three months, you would be right on. It all started when I hopped on a plane for Newark Airport on June 24, excited about the upcoming ten days of intense activity I had planned in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, starting with a visit to my youngest grandson, Adam, and his fiancé, Allie, and followed by a whirlwind trip to the Mt. Laurel Autoharp Gathering, a fancy wedding in the Catskills, and ending in New England for a visit with the Wyman Kelly family. Except that I stepped into the car rental agency in Hoboken on June 25 only to be told that my Washington State license had expired. How is a Jersey girl supposed to know that nobody gets reminders in the great Northwest?
Friends are wonderful and the relay began. Phyllis Bitow drove me to NY City and James Wilson took me in for a night in the Village before putting me on a train for Harrisburg, PA. I got to see that historic town, which was like stepping onto a set from the American Revolution. Then I was picked up by Carole and Fisk Outwater, who hosted me in their RV for three days of the Mt. Laurel Autoharp Gathering , where I met old autoharp buddies, thrived on good music, and got very little sleep. On Saturday I was returned to Harrisburg and picked up by Phyllis, who took me to Bethlehem, PA, where we enjoyed a new production of Cirque du Soleil with friends. Ay, there’s the rub. In my somnambulistic condition late at night, I was running in a parking garage and tripped, flying headfirst into the fender of a parked car. I was flipped over onto the pavement, smashing my back and right hand. Never thinking to go to an emergency room at such an hour, I soldiered forth to the glorious wedding of Jen Vitello and Bob D’Agostino, where I celebrated their nuptials with close friends and relatives and two margaritas, which numbed my pain enough to make dancing exciting…until the next day.
Fast forward. Judy Wyman picked me up from the wedding and took me to West Hartford, Connecticut, where I was X-rayed for everything but my back. Go figure. Seeing the Wyman Kelly family was comforting and they graciously made it possible for me to visit my sister, Anne Magill, and her husband, Frank, in Peterborough, NH.
Upon my return, various medical tests ensued, including an MRI of the thoracic region of my back. Result: two compression fractures and three broken ribs. And, of course, the broken hand, which had already been diagnosed. Enough said. It was a disappointing summer. No swimming. No hiking. Drastically curtailed activity. And I, an avid critic of any kind of medication (I don’t do well with stimulants of any kind…one glass of wine and I’m dancing on the table, and one oxycodone…well, Katie, bar the door!) was given a regimen of Tylenol, ibuprofen, and oxycodone (at bedtime..for sweet dreams?).
I was supposed to time my pain meds to overlap during the day. That lasted less than a week, until I decided to tough it out and see how much pain I could endure before signing up for assisted suicide (one of the perks of living in Washington State). Is it better to suffer and be sure not to overdo, or mask the pain and overdo? Heady decisions, to be sure, especially when friends and relatives are ever ready with advice that scares the hell out of me.
In the back of my muddled mind was the thought that if I hadn’t gone East and if I hadn’t let my license expire, I would be scaling the Himalayas and swimming across Lake Winnipesaukee in a heartbeat. But now I was sure that my life as I knew it was over and I was not only a nobody, but a has-been in the bargain. Ever been there? Of course you have. And it never occurred to me that I could have been sailing down the Pennsylvania turnpike in my rental car and been broadsided in the middle of the night by an 18-wheeler. So you see, there is really no answer to why these crazy things happen to us, but, in my case, I am grateful that I didn’t break my neck or paralyze myself, or experience any number of much worse scenarios.
Adding to my feeling of panic and helplessness immediately after returning to Whidbey Island on July 6th, I was faced with moving to the Upper Langley affordable co-housing community by September 1st. The plans had been made before I left for the East Coast. Again, thank heaven for friends, who helped with packing, unpacking, and completing the move. And kudos to son Tom, who built a lovely two-story home—his first experience as a builder, and what a success it was—on the edge of a fir and cedar forest in this welcoming community, where I will live out my days as a modern woodswoman. Daughter Cary is just down the path, so I have absolutely no chance to misbehave.
There will be photos in the future as I settle in. Tom, whose first love is horticulture, has provided a glorious environment of plants, trees, and flowers surrounding the house. His expertise never ceases to amaze me. And I have only a short walk to town, past my old apartment and right into the middle of picturesque Langley. Things are looking up! And I promise you that I will be back in the saddle before long, and grateful for a relatively rapid recovery.