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  Thursday January 29th, 2015    

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Life and death (05/28/2014)
By Frances Edstrom
There’s nothing like being able to drive a car to make you feel in charge of your own life. I shudder to think of the day when my children say to each other, “We should get Mom to give up her driver’s license.” But maybe they already have. Neither one of them likes the way I drive. Of course, I think one of them drives too fast and the other too slowly, so we have a mutual disapproval society.

After my surgery, I was on some pretty hefty pain medication, and thought it best — in a vague, hazy way — that I not drive. As soon as I was off the stuff (or actually, ran out of it) I went for a small drive. I took the kids down to see the new baby calves who have come to summer camp at the farm across the road. They will spend the lazy, hazy days of summer growing fat on grass.

Then, I drove to a farewell party in Wisconsin, which was a heady experience — all that open road just there for the exploring. There’s something intoxicating about having the world whiz past you as you drive. The familiar houses, the rolling green golf courses, the lake sparkling, the lone bridge, the river still straining its banks, the sloughs dotted with wading birds — all of it running like a travel film.

Unfortunately, at the end of the drive, once I am separated from my wheels, reality hits. I have not yet received my handicap placard, so I must park where I can and crutch slowly to my destination, watching for uneven surfaces that could trip me up and put me back at square one in my healing. Each time, I congratulate myself for delaying my surgery until the snow and ice were gone. The down side is that I will be on crutches instead of in my boat on the river most of the summer.

Now that I can get outside I can enjoy the spring like never before. I have watched the progression of the apple trees from bare bones to frothy wedding dresses, and now to faded pink, their petals filling the yard with white confetti left over from the wedding. The trees leafed out in slo-mo this year, and still some are unfurled, while others are in full leaf. The lilacs, which I expect to bloom on Mother’s Day, just burst out this past week, which signals morel season. I overheard a guy talking to his son, who had found 12 pounds of the wonderful mushrooms. Twelve pounds!

And now here we are at Memorial Day, when we remember and thank our lost service members. It is especially poignant to honor the dead when life is so abundant all around us. 


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