“Fluffernutters for 3”

At 41 years of age, I was a widow with 2 daughters, 15 and 5. We’d endured 2-years of my husband’s terrible terminal illness. After 6 months of being hospitalized, he died on New Years Day, January 1st, 1986, the same morning a yard maintenance guy called to demand $50.00 from me for the last cut. When I reminded him (I’d told him months earlier), I expected a refund for the hose his team had run over and destroyed and the rose bush that met a similar fate, he yelled “Fuck you, lady,” loudly over the phone.

That awful exchange punctuated the day. The following event took place 2 months later.

It was a March Sunday and being a good Catholic Mom (then), I was bringing my daughters to Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s in the Gaspee section of Warwick (we preferred that church to the looming cathedral-type church of St. Paul’s, our assigned parish.)

Remnants of the winter lay on our lawn, small islands of ice, in puddles of mud.

After my 2 kids got into the Jeep, I swung ‘round to the driver’s door but before I could hop in, my leg shot out on one of those afore-mentioned “islands.” I heard “Snap,” as I went down. My ankle screamed, inside my off-white leather boot I’d worn to match my winter white dress.

I sat, soaked in mud, probably remaining conscious due to the icy mix that rained down on me. I directed my older daughter to go down the street and “Get Jerry” (our neighbor and friend) but first told her to call 911 and ask for an ambulance because I thought my ankle was broken.

Jerry and the ambulance arrived at the same time. A real irony? My ambulance crew were two students who bubbled with enthusiasm (“Hi, Mrs. Mellor!”), anxious to help their former teacher. They lifted me onto the gurney and put me into the ambulance, while my daughters stayed with Jerry. I was shaking from being cold and wet but was distracted from my pain by my former students.

Hours later, a friend took me home from the hospital, my ankle in a cast. I’d broken the bone in a way that allowed no weight on it for several weeks. This meant another long-term absence from teaching.

During the following week, mid-day, I got a call from a Cranston East High School phys ed instructor who told me my daughter slipped on a disc someone left on the floor, during a fitness test. I was told to pick her up right away; she’d need x-rays.

I went out to my Jeep, on crutches, got in, and went to Cranston East where my daughter was waiting, with her teacher, by the exit. I could drive her to the hospital because my broken ankle wasn’t my driving foot.

At the hospital, I pulled up to the emergency exit, told them I was on crutches but my daughter needed a wheelchair. They got it, wheeled her in, and I accompanied her, after parking the car.

Hours later, she was released, with crutches for her sprained ankle. The two of us needed to go to the drug store to fill her prescription. We doubtless were a comical image as we both crossed the street on stilt-like crutches.

For the next week, we 3 lived on fluffernutters, since that was the only thing my 6 year old could make. Kerry and I were sidelined but my recovery time would loom much longer–not a good place to be for a single Mom of 2, with no back-up support system–one who needed to shop for groceries, make meals, get to appointments, get to childcare or school.

Next, I’ll tell you about my 1stlong term leave of absence in my next post. I call it “When I Was Ratzo Rizzo.”

****Why do I write these posts? Many of you are going through tough times. I write of my experiences to give you hope that no matter how things seem to rain down, unabatedly, you can get through it…get through it and go higher.

How do I know? I’m living proof.

P.S. The photo is of me age 38; the kids are 13 and 3. It was just before my husband’s cancer struck.


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