The day was ordinary only in the sense that nothing much happened. It had been months since she had been able to come and go at will. First, it had been the surgery, her own of course a minor root canal, but more overwhelming had been his cardiac operations.
The trip to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with a ‘cardiac event’ – new speak for what used to be called a heart attack – had been followed by his transfer to a larger and more specialized hospital with a dedicated cardiology center much further away.
“Always choose a hospital in a wealthy town,” Irene had told her, after the fact. But as it happened, the doctor in the emergency room hadn’t consulted her about where to take him. There was a system, and once you became a part of it, the system reigned supreme. The professionals knew best and wasted little energy and less time in the niceties of consultation.
And so the children returned to offer what they could to help. Taking turns at visiting hours so she didn’t have to drive or even go in alone to see him. Spelling her so she could tend to the tasks of normal life.
The hospital stay was shorter than she had expected, and, once he was home, the kids returned to their own lives. But the driving didn’t end with his discharge from the hospital. Day after day they travelled to stress tests and therapy centers, to blood tests and check-ups.
And then came the ice.
The weeks of continuous snowfall had built up walls of dirty plowed snow that melted at noontime only to freeze again when the sun fell behind the mountain. The lane on which she lived now had begun to take on the look of a luge course as the walls of now encroached on the roadbed with the melt ice trapped between them.
Gradually her world had shrunk as the combination of walking and diving on ice threatened both her sense of well-being and her actual safety. Never one to engage an enemy, she simply stayed home.
But today, an ordinary day if ever there was one, today the ice was melting. The lane had become a mushy bed of watery snow, running down the mountain to the brook.
And, best of all, the sun was shining.