Constance Ore is a retired Teacher, Choir Director, and Organist. And a formidable cook.

March 30, 2010

Filed under: — Constance at 10:53 pm on Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ah, summer! Our several days of spring were grand but by today, it feels as though nature is on “fast forward”. Sunday presented the first suicidal insect’s remains on the windshield of the car. Yesterday, after giving Alphie his daily “comb out” I discovered our first tick of the season. On our walk through Sanctuary this morning, I heard frogs chanting by the stream and a meadow lark singing up on the hill near the edge of the forest. As I came back, a medium-sized ribbon snake made its way across the path directly in front of me, provoking the little shot of adrenalin that sudden sightings of snakes seem to evoke. The temperature is at 72 degrees with the 80’s predicted for tomorrow along with storms and winds and wildly fluctuating barometric readings. It is all too much, too fast. Our atmospheric ambiance is likely one of the reasons that Nebraska is not considered a prime tourist destination.

Holy Week, and the church invites everyone to remember again the life-changing events that took place so long ago. Much of the 14th chapter of St. John’s gospel is devoted to Jesus’ words of comfort to his disciples as he prepares to depart the Passover supper and enter the Garden of Gethsemane. I particularly like to think of the words, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” because it addresses directly the hardest part of my own life – that is, the knowing and not-knowing about dying. I think about it a great deal since the arrival of the cancer. Plans are made for the future, but never for a long time, and always with a “maybe” lurking. I am now at the 46th day since the last transfusion; there were 56 days between it and the one prior to that; I hope to continue past Easter before getting another because we are planning a celebratory weekend at the end of April, and the blood is key to having the energy needed. As always, we are optimistic and we look forward to the days ahead.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Have a blessed Easter!

March 23, 2010

Filed under: — Constance at 4:58 pm on Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring is here, officially and unofficially. The remaining snow is like small doilies under the denser trees in the forest and in a few shaded spots along the road. We have waited with longing for this season to come, and we view with delight the newly born shoots of lilies, daffodils and crocus. Alphie is removing his coat, hair by hair, and even with daily brushing, surfaces all over the house are adorned with signs of his preparation for warmer days.

The antibiotics that I consumed last week did their work, and by Saturday my voice returned and my lungs no longer felt like hollow stones. “Pneumonia, Bronchitis, Other Fatal Respiratory Stuff and no immunities!” I agonized. . . again. I have yet to get fearing the worst under control. My blood transfusion has “held” now for 40 days. I want to make it to 50 days or more if possible; that would be about six days less than between the last transfusions. This time frame is literally the measure of my days.

First Holy Week, then Easter comes, and on that morning, the grandest music of the church leads the celebrations. It’s as though musicians have tried to aurally move from earth to heaven and take all the rest of us along. There are so many hymns that appear in my memory, but my recent favorite is a text by Brian Wren; “Christ Is Risen! Shout Hosanna!” *

Christ is risen! Shout hosanna! Celebrate this day of days!
Christ is risen! Hush in wonder: all creation is amazed.
In the desert all-surrounding, see, a spreading tree has grown.
Healing leaves of grace abounding bring a taste of love unknown.

Christ is risen! Raise your spirits from the caverns of despair.
Walk with gladness in the morning, see what love can do and dare.
Drink the wine of resurrection, not a servant, but a friend.
Jesus is our strong companion – joy and peace shall never end.

* My favorite tune for this is JACKSON NEW by Wm Rowan because the first three tones go straight up!

March 16, 2010

Filed under: — Constance at 12:23 am on Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yesterday was March 15th, with the title “Ides of March”* and its dark meaning still thought about after all the years. Alphie and I walked in the afternoon when the sun actually made a bit of a showing as a pale white orb behind a fast moving grey curtain. For just a few seconds, I saw my shadow moving in front of me, then it was back to our sunless sky, and today it continued to be cool and cloud covered. It has been a very long and dark time here; the overheard public conversations in the stores and at the gas station are all about “Where is the sun”, “It’s never been this cold and grey before”, “There’s not going to be a spring at all this year” and so forth.

Last week, the temperatures finally got into the 40’s, causing most of the snow to thaw, and this seemed to release great hordes of bronchial germs from frozen storage. Sniffing, snuffling, or deep, hollow coughing has commenced in every place where “two or more are gathered together”. I stayed home but somehow this unseen plague found me anyway. I was given antibiotics immediately, (6 Tablets of 250 mg. Azithromycin – two on the first day, then one a day for the next four days). I took the last one yesterday, and I think I am better, though my voice still comes and goes and my lungs hurt intermittently. Last week, daughter Janna responded to my answering the telephone with these words, “Hello, Lauren Bacall? Is my Mother there?”

*Beware the Ides of March! Julius Caesar was said to have been assassinated on this date in 44 B.C. by followers of Cassius and Brutus. In Shakespeare’s play, Caesar, betrayed by his friend, dies with the words, “Et tu, Brute? Then fall Caesar!” The Ides falls on the 15th day of March, May, July and October; in the rest of the months, it is the 13th.

March 9, 2010

Filed under: — Constance at 7:07 pm on Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The willows in the wetlands look ghostly, wrapped in a heavy fog that has settled over Sanctuary. Recent rains removed much of the remaining snow and yesterday’s first appearance of a red-winged blackbird made spring’s arrival more official than the date on the calendar. How quickly plants long buried in snow assert themselves again! The grasses are bright green, the daffodils and iris have pushed their blades two to three inches up from the ground, and all sorts of tiny leaves are appearing. Yesterday, the geese were moving across the sky in great numbers as they took advantage of winds high above. Today, everything is still – we are all waiting for the sun’s return.

After five years, I am facing the reality of the disease awakening after a long time of it “simmering”, a term used by the oncologist. Now pain has become my most intimate companion, my appetite comes and goes, and my mind is trying to deal with the entity of this person it occupies. Since we have put into place the pieces of pain management a long time ago, the only thing that we can do is increase the dosage of medications, and even then, there is always the presence of “hurting”. I am thinking of death again, and reflecting on how much I wish to hold on to this life with all of the dear people that are mine to know and love. Of course, there is Alphie, too, and the birds and creatures of Sanctuary. It feels as if the pain has grabbed my life and begun to change the essence of it, perhaps like the tree given over to bonsai, where it will be trimmed and tied and reshaped into something entirely different than was originally intended.

Since Biblical times, believers in God have called for surcease from pain. Many of the psalms have very descriptive verses about the ills and difficulties of life, and in countless words written since then, people have taken on the subject of “Why?” All sorts of conclusions have come and gone. For some, it has fallen into the pit of punishment for sin, for others, it has been described as a tool for burning away the dross and leaving only the purified self in its place. There are many other thoughtful commentaries on the matter, but I have yet to find anything that answers the question, and it joins the great body of “why’s” that we pick up, examine, and finally put back down, unanswered. Perhaps the knowing of a thing doesn’t change it at all, so I conclude that it is the exhortation to “live by faith” that is my resting place. Ultimately, it is God alone who will take me where I must go.

Next Page »