Janet Sheridan: Calendars of memories
A week ago, when I planned to wash the windows or sit in the shade feeling guilty because I wasn’t doing so, for some nonsensical reason I decided to reorganize my filing cabinet instead. I flew into action, sorting and discarding with determination, until I came across a stack of old calendars.
I keep past calendars with jotted notes, appointments and reminders in case I want to know when I last had my carpet cleaned, my hair cut or a vacation. I save them until doing so seems more like hoarding than record keeping.
To put off making a decision about whether to discard teaching materials I hadn’t looked at in 20 years, I decided to thumb through the calendars to see what I had done during previous summers. An abundance of notes scrawled in July 2010 caught my attention, and I studied the crossed-out, erased and stained notations like an amateur archeologist, hoping to find past hopes, disappointments and experiences, but discovering mostly trivia.
As the month began, I had three unrelated medical appointments. None of them required fasting for a blood test, which must have pleased me; and they were all routine in nature, so I wouldn’t have dragged Joel along to ask questions I didn’t and hear answers I couldn’t. Even so, I’m certain all the appointments stressed me enough to result in an unsatisfactory blood-pressure reading, a regular occurrence when I walk into any type of medical facility.
As the month continued, I cleaned the coffeemaker and met friends for lunch in Steamboat. I attended two meetings, one of which drove me crazy when participants forced it into overtime by repeating what they’d already said. Many times.
In mid-month, Joel and I spent three days at Louis Lake near Lander, Wyoming, at a rollicking family reunion and came home hoarse, sleep-deprived and overweight.
Next, I had a vaccination for shingles, and Joel had a blood test. We sprayed the aspen for aphids, fertilized the roses and sent off a check to help purchase a headstone for Joel’s beloved aunt, who’d died the previous fall, leaving a hole in our hearts.
I submitted four columns for publication in the Craig Daily Press that July, remembering to scratch through my jotted reminders each time — a habit I’d begun after I thought I’d emailed my columns before I left town for three weeks, giving my editor a serious case of indigestion before he tracked me down.
As the month ended, I had my post-procedure visit with Dr. Baker, and Joel gave the survivor speech at Craig’s Relay for Life. Reading those final notations, I re-experienced the anxiety I felt during that summer as we measured our days by our increasing distance from my pacemaker implantation and Joel’s surgery.
Finally, to further delay my filing-cabinet decisions, I decided to re-read the columns I’d published four years ago. One ended with these words: “In our flower garden, tight buds swell on rose bushes while self-effacing buttercups, unaware of their beauty, slip quietly into view. And I take the time to notice and enjoy these blessings. As I wiggle my toes in the grass, I realize I’ve returned to summer.”
Rereading those words, I understand that in July 2010, I saw summer clearly, with the eyes of a child, because, with Joel standing beside me, both of us with our health restored, I could.
I should reread them every year.
Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at http://www.auntbeulah.com on Tuesdays.