Don't they say that learning new things keeps your brain sharp? I ought to be able to cure cancer with all the new things I learned in the last few days.
This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a training clinic offered by the American Swim Coaches Association and USA Swimming. It was, of all places, at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem. I didn't even know there was a casino in Bethlehem. WHY is there a casino in Bethlehem? It is literally, attached to the old Beth Steel plant so there are these hulking steel mill buildings and structures right next to this hulking hotel and casino.
Friday night we had sessions on butterfly and turns. Saturday was filled with backstroke, breaststroke, season planning, how to teach effectively, and some other things that I didn't stay for, and Sunday we finished with a total waste of 90 minutes directed towards head coaches by a guy who just really liked to hear himself talk and several good discussions on freestyle, starts, and nutrition which had to be rushed because of the talker who started the day.
Overall I thought it was an outstanding clinic and I learned a ton. I hated having to choose between family time and staying - the other 3 coaches who attended the whole thing stayed over night both nights - and I missed some good sessions and some apparently raucous party time, but I could not bear the thought of being away the whole weekend.
This morning I learned that swimming the way we are supposed to teach our kids to swim is frigging hard! I tried to adjust my catch on freestyle and I wore myself out. I think that 35 years of swimming it one way is going to be hard to over come. I worked on the timing of my breath a bit and that wasn't as tough to tweak. We got some new drills which I have to try myself before stroke clinic starts, but I'll have to do that on a weekend with maybe one of the other coaches watching to make sure I get them right.
Sunday I learned from my Aunt Jeanne's obituary that she had lived and taught in Japan. I had no idea. I also learned that there is a white house tucked in behind two other houses about 1/2 block from my parents' house. In almost 40 years of living in and visiting that neighborhood, I NEVER noticed it before. B never noticed it either in our 17.5 years together (17 years...can that be right? sh*t that's a long time). I also never knew that the mother of one of my friends/fellow coaches was my Aunt's roommate in college.
So yes...the obituary obviously means that my Aunt died. She died Friday morning. Her illness began at the beginning of March. She was admitted to Reading Hospital the day before my dad got out following his surgery with c-diff. Apparently she picked it up following treatment with antibiotic after a root-canal. I saw her the Saturday and Sunday after she was admitted and by Sunday she had been moved to a regular room and was doing, it seemed, better. I assumed, wrongly as it turns out, that she would be going home sometime that week. Mom's surgery was that Friday. Dad found out the next week that she was still there. Then we lost track of her. Dad couldn't get a hold of her and the Reading Hospital said she had been discharged. On Easter I e-mailed my cousin in Michigan and asked where on earth she was...he responded that she had been moved on Holy Thursday to HUP. We shared contact info and got on the "e-mail update list" from my other cousin's wife. We were told not to visit - no visitors were allowed. She took a bad turn late that week and after a minor family e-mail dust up, the ban was lifted and my parents got to see her Sunday. Monday evening she was moved to the Topton Home where my Uncle is in nursing care to die. B and K and I got to spend an hour with her on Tuesday, my parents saw her Wednesday morning and I spent about 90 minutes with her on Wednesday evening. I couldn't get back in on Thursday but planned to go over Friday on my way to the coaching clinic.
Friday morning I had been really, really anxious for no good reason. I went over to the gym about 11:15am and did 5 miles on the elliptical. As I was walking to the locker room, a gentleman stopped me and asked me, "do you ever slow down and just enjoy your life?" He continued, "You're always running in here, in a hurry, acting like "get out of my way! I have things to do!'" I was speechless. I stuttered that I enjoy many things and that I rush because I needed to get back to work. Then I power walked to the locker room and burst into tears. Is that how people see me? As a person who doesn't enjoy life? I cried through my shower. Then I walked to the car and B called immediately to tell me that Aunt J. had died. I cried in earnest then and cried off and on for the rest of the day - including when I drove by their old house on the way to Bethlehem.
I'll come back and think about the gym comment at a later date.
I am SO glad that I got to spend time with Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Clair before she died. She had played the organ at our wedding and when we were picking songs, she asked us if we (B and I) had a "hymn relationship," meaning hymns that were special or meaningful to us as a couple. As we were essentially unchurched as a couple at that point I didn't really understand what she meant and let her pick the songs she thought would be best. She said that maybe someday we would find our place in a church and I could let her know. Tuesday I finally got to tell her that I understood and thank her for encouraging us. I offered to bring my keyboard in and play for her and she said she would like that. Wednesday I wasn't planning on going (after mom's oncologist appts) but I drove straight up anyway. I felt like God was really putting something on my heart and I need to do it immediately. I didn't have my keyboard but I had my ipod. I visited with Uncle Clair and tried to get Aunt Jeanne to eat some ice cream (mint chocolate chip). She had 3 bites and then all she wanted was ice water. She had some other visitors but once they left I asked if she would like to hear one of those songs that means so much to me/us now. She did, so I put one ear bud in her ear and one in mine and played Casting Crown's "Glorious Day" (live version here) and attempted to sing it to her. I ended up basically crying through the entire thing while she listened/rested/slept. The nurse came in to check on her and take dinner orders and I left shortly after that. I told her how much I loved her and she said she loved me too. I'm so grateful that I got to let her know and to play her that song. And now she doesn't have to wait for Him to come again on that glorious day - she's already there.
Her memorial service is Saturday, 4/27 and supposedly they are going to have a memorial concert for her at some point. I want my quartet (the Luce Screws) to sing the song if we are able/allowed. I am not talented enough to do it solo, but we are a pretty decent group together. Maybe by then I'll be able to get through it without crying.