Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Yesterday would have been my mother's 73rd birthday. We knew that she would not make 75 because of her declining health but we certainly didn't expect to lose her right after she turned 72. She, however, had been ready to go for quiet some time. I imagine that once she could no longer keep an active schedule outside the house along with her increasingly feeling worse each day had more than a little to do with her readiness. She had just gone to Mass for Ash Wednesday the night before she passed and kept talking about how she felt like she was right with God when she could talk to us a few short times in the hospital.

I went to a conference in Boston the latter part of last week and was certainly feeling out of sorts before I went. My commitments at the conference kept me busy. Most importantly, however, I was able to visit with a distant colleague who has become a close friend. In fact, he is the one who was able to get my flight home arranged while I was struggling to get back in the slow part of the subway system between Newark and Manhattan. Tragically, he had lost his mother quite unexpectedly the year before. He reinforced what I had been reading - the grief will come in waves and very often in unexpected ways. Not necessarily crying, but not being able to concentrate and just generally not feeling "with it". It was especially nice for us to catch up over the course of a few days. He did not I was quieter than he had ever seen me in groups - especially our dinner with "big gun" researcher that we just happened to run into in the hall. Like me, this colleague notices friends and colleagues from our "other-centered" approach to life. I will try to keep that positive attribute even as I feel the grief overcome me less. I am learning that everything is not up to me, including the dinner conversation.

Our university does not start back until AFTER the MLK holiday for the first time I can remember. That actually feels like it gives me another entire week to get both personal and work tasks done. We've had our first big snow but, luckily, it coincides with my interest in moving around. The big thing was actually getting home via Boston after our direct flight was canceled. 3 hours in the DC airport was not fun but at least my colleague who has never been there before had the best seat in the house as the plane departed late Sunday night. And I am so glad she was riding with me as we drove home - much less chance of my falling asleep or someone not noticing I didn't get home because I had run off the road since her husband knew when to expect us. That is yet another thing I miss when I travel - I talked to Mom at least once each day - especially when I was in Newark so that she knew I had made it back to the hotel okay each night.

There are lots of projects both before school starts and after it begins. I did get all but about 10% of my course material up before I left and so I can concentrate on my annual report when I return since it's due Monday of the 2nd week of classes. I still don't understand why we aren't evaluated on the same academic calendar year like we are hired. I'm sure there is an administrative reason for it. It does penalize you your first year. I can remember my first chair telling me not to expect to be rated well because I only had "half" of the activities to document given that I had not been teaching there the spring of the evaluation period. At least he warned me.

I am going to enjoy the snow along with Molly - it's so great being able to let her run the yard on her own. And not having anything on the schedule this week is absolutely wonderful. I should be able to get a lot of writing done. Hopefully the website I'm using as a motivator will recognize me when I return to its homepage.

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