Meet Me at the Dinosaur


The whole thing is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.  I can’t be dying.  No way.  It’s a preposterous idea.  I’m just going to take a little nap here and when I wake up I’ll be all better.

There’s nothing wrong with me that a little nap won’t cure.  Then I’ll get up and straighten up this room, put things to rights, sit in the chair . . . ah, actually, my back has become so deconditioned that I can only stand up for a few minutes.

Well, what the heck, I’ve done tons of exercises; I just need to buckle down, get back to work, and do a few more.  Uh, no, the last time I did exercises what happened?  Something bad happened, had to stop.

If the will, you know, the will—if the will could triumph then I, by golly, could get out of this bed, pack my gear, walk out of this hospital, go home and—go home and—. There is no home to go to.  We’re breaking it up because I never will be fit to go there again.

How is this possible?  How did it come to this?  Blood sugar rising, medicine makes me sick, kidneys failing, deconditioned all over the place, eyes going, can’t reach the blankets to pull them up from the foot of the bed—you’re kidding me, right?  This can’t be me.  This has got to be one hell of a big mistake.  Somebody, somewhere, has got this whole thing totally wrong.

And when Bob Dobrow ejected from his plane and was falling toward the earth under a closed parachute, I know exactly what his last thought was:  “I’ll pull out of this; I always have.”

I always have recovered.  That asthma attack when I was three, and again when I was five and turning black.  The first suicide attempt when I was fourteen.  The one in 1999 that put me on life support for a month.  What was it my Health Care Proxy said?  “She should be given every chance to recover.  I’ve seen her go through bad times before and come back to have good times again.”

Damn straight, Skippy; I’m going with that one.  I’ll be fine.  Give me a couple days then we’ll get together for lunch somewhere.  I haven’t been to the Dinosaur for barbeque in ages—want to meet there?

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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