The Winter Fundraiser ends here. Instead of a bang or a whimper, let’s go out in full voice with hope for the future, whatever it holds…
We ran out of time before we ran out of Odd Jobs. Interesting ones remain, but I’ve asked the Baron to save the best of them for another time. The tale is worth the telling, but we’ve past the right time — the kairos moment — to pass it on. However, it could well serve as the foundation for another theme in another quarter — closer perhaps to Christmas.
Looking Back One Last Time
We also ran out of time before I was able to adequately ‘end’ my own recitation of Odd Jobs. We (rightly I think) focused on the enormous changes which occurred when the Baron’s good friend invited him to do real work — you know, the kind where you dress up in business clothing and go to an office to work with grown-ups? This new job required new clothing, and even where men’s attire was concerned, discovering what they now wore had a learning curve. Many years before, when this same friend got married, the Baron was woefully ill-dressed for their wedding; our friends always had great forbearance. They could have said, “Hey, you know those two paintings we bought at the last show? How about you take some of the proceeds and get some threads for our wedding, dude… oh, wait. Maybe not “threads”. He was already wearing those. But you get the idea.
The start of that job was an abrupt right turn in the Garden of Forking Paths and it happened just in time. The future Baron’s college expenses loomed, and there was that last piece of high school tuition to get through. I am still amazed at the way things seemed to just ‘happen’… even though, in hindsight, each step of the way seemed to follow naturally from the previous decision.
I was still working in town, but it was getting harder and harder to make the drive. I began to fall asleep at the wheel. Sometimes I would get to a job — a big house to clean — haul in my equipment and then sleep on the floor for an hour before I could start. Running up and down the stairs with my favorite heavy vacuum cleaner became harder and then it became impossible. I finally had to tell all my customers goodbye. I saw this as temporary and had no idea what was wrong except that I was sooo VERY tired. I couldn’t get enough sleep.
The exact order of things is gone now, but it probably took about seven years until we understood what was wrong. I began to have strange body aches and my doctor referred me to physical rehab. The exercises made my condition worse, so I’d sleep it off. By then our son was driving himself to school and the Baron was home twice a week to spend the night before returning to work. He had moved on from that first contract to consulting work in Richmond so it was easier for him to stay with family than make that long drive each day…
… After long months of fatigue I began to feel a bit better. Garden work before the weather turned very hot seemed to help, though I noticed I was losing my depth perception and even my proprioception. So I tripped over my own feet. A lot. If I remember correctly we went on vacation several times with friends but I mostly slept while they went out and did things. Thus began my years of “I’ll feel better tomorrow”…
The doctor nagged me to get a mammogram and they found a lump. Not a small lump, mind you, but one big enough for its own zip code. Within two weeks I’d had a full mastectomy, “just to be sure”. There was no hormonal involvement and no the nodes were free of any cancer cells. They tried to shoehorn me into a series of radiation treatments but I refused. I knew the chances of leukemia down the road if I were to agree to their “gold standard” of treatment. When I mentioned my concern about leukemia, the radiologist left mad, slamming the door behind her. I did reluctantly agree to chemotherapy and I regret doing so. In cases like mine, it’s a scam. In others, it might help but the whole Breast Cancer Awareness hype gave me the creeps. Chemo permanently altered/poisoned my brain and my ability to perceive. I never fully recovered from that “treatment”.
But to the extent I did recover, I wanted to try working again. This Odd Job was advertised in the paper — imagine, a job the old-fashioned way. The Drop-In Center for the chronic but stable mentally ill adults was looking for a case worker. Any previous mental illness would be considered a plus… I almost fell off the chair laughing. These people were going to love my PTSD.