In any profession, I know that some days are harder than others, and I know this is even truer of professions that involve difficult, delicate situations. My father’s profession is that of family physician, a much-loved doctor who has been practicing in the same town for… let me see… 37 or 38 years. (I was there at the time he started, but I’m afraid I don’t remember back that far all too well, as I was a newborn.) Dad wouldn’t tell us about his patients, but I know they loved him then – and do now – for the knowledge, care and compassion he offers.
I know that my chatty side doesn’t come from my father, as he is not a man of many words. In fact, there are often times that I don’t really know what Dad is thinking – or feeling. (Actually, this isn’t as frequent as I’ve grown older – perhaps I’ve matured, he’s mellowed a bit, or maybe both.) Now that I am a parent, I think I understand a little more about the feelings a parent feels when a child hurts… and as a doctor, I know that Dad has had many a heartache on my behalf. This would have been very true in May 1997.
At that time, I had an MRI of the brain, as an ophthalmologist suspected something and sent me in for this test. (This doctor wouldn’t tell me what he suspected, but I think Dad knew.) Because of our coming move, my mother came with me to the doctor appointment on June 3. Mom had a message my father had wanted to share with me. He was my physician, so the MRI results were sent to him as well as the neurologist to whom I was referred. And Dad wanted to let me know before I went that it was quite likely I had multiple sclerosis.
Twelve years have passed, and Dad has attended more classes, read more publications about MS that just about any other family physician I think you could find. But what really strikes me, as I reflect, is what that spring of 1997 must have felt like to him. For me, I was frightened and searching, but for him, he had to watch as his baby girl, his only daughter, was diagnosed with a chronic illness… and there was nothing he could do about it. As I type this, I’m tearing up a bit… Dad doesn’t display his emotions on his sleeve, but I know he feels them. And he feels them deeply.
Dad, thank you for the love and support and tears and strength that you’ve given to me! This post could go on for pages, chapters, and that wouldn’t even be enough. So I’ll stop here.
Exactly one year ago today, I got to visit Green Gables, Prince Edward Island. We went with a group of more than 30 on Lightrider, a double-decker bus, and what an experience this was! I have to include a couple of photos, of course, and I will also follow with a post about Anne from my former blog. There is a lot I can learn from the life of fictional Anne and her very real author, Lucy Maud Montgomery.
The entry below was first published on January 10, 2008.
100 years later, and still sparkling
Prince Edward Island will host centennial celebrations this year for Anne‘s publication. I’m not sure why, but the authors I’ve grown to love are all people with “invisible issues” of their own. As I wrote a few months ago, Madeleine L’Engle’s most well-known and awarded book, A Wrinkle in Time, was rejected by publishers eight times before it was put aside to collect dust (until it was resurrected by another interested publisher). It is hard to believe that one of the most celebrated and well-known books of a century ago had a similar history. Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery, was handwritten then typed on her “old second-hand typewriter that never makes the capitals plain and won’t print ‘w’ at all” (from volume 1 of Montgomery’s selected journals). Ms. Montgomery had several short stories and poems published before that time, but this was her first full-length book, so Maud, as she went by, decided the manuscript must not be worthwhile. And she put it aside.
What would lead her to do this? And why was such a bright young lady using a secondhand typewriter with some letters that wouldn’t work? Despite the cheery disposition of many of her characters, Maud did not live a charmed life by any means. Much like her beloved character, her mother died when Maud was very young. Unlike Anne, Maud did have a father still living, a father who went across the country to make a new life and later settle in Saskatchewan. Lucy Maud stayed on Prince Edward Island, where she lived with her mother’s parents, her Grandma Lucy and Grandfather Alexander Macneill. She lived near and grew to love her cousins, one of the families living at a house called “Green Gables,” but L. M. Montgomery is described on page 17 of Annotated Anne of Green Gables as fine physically, but “emotionally starved.” And a century ago, Maud’s relatives’ views were not unusual. She was a female, her parents weren’t here, and a girl – or young lady – was not expected to need, accomplish or become much of anything. So it was that her grandfather, who passed away when Maud was in her early 20’s, left nothing in his will to his wife or granddaughter, but to the males of the family. Then ten years later, in 1908, something happened that would have surprised her grandfather: her first book was published. In fact, Anne of Green Gables was so popular that it went through thirty-two printings in the first five years. Unlike many other books, it has not gone out of print after a hundred years.
The character Anne herself lived the first part of her life filled with issues that weren’t even “invisible.” Orphaned as an infant, Anne spent her growing years either in an orphanage or in homes as a servant of sorts. She went to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert when the brother and sister had sent for a boy orphan, one who could help on the farm. Then came Anne. She wasn’t a boy, and thus wasn’t really wanted, much like Maud felt through her growing years. It became apparent, though, that Anne, much like her author, had much to offer the world. Some of those special gifts were ones she had cultivated during life’s struggles.
So a hundred years have passed… and who would have thought that little dreamer Maud would bring to the printed page one of literature’s most beloved heroines? Anne is known and loved in Canada, America, and in nations around the world. If you go to Prince Edward Island, you’ll likely see as many tourists from Japan as America. This book has been translated into 36 languages, and people are just as enthusiastic about is as they were when it was first published, if not more so. In fact, one exciting thing about 2008 is that there will be special celebrations this summer, marking the centennial of Anne’s publication. (In fact, a bus tour with Lightrider will embark to PEI for eight days in June. There are a few spaces left, and I can get information for you if you’re interested!)
As she read reviews of her work in 1908, Maud wrote, as can be seen in her first volume of published journals, “…Thank God, I can keep the shadows of my life out of my work. I would not wish to darken any other life—I want instead to be a messenger of optimism….” Though her life held further shadows, I am thankful that Lucy Maud Montgomery was able to rise above those to share this message of optimism. Both through her life and her writing, Lucy Maud Montgomery left a sparkle in this world that is well worth celebrating!
So we did return from my “dream trip” to PEI, and it is fun to reflect back on that special time we had. It was neat to see Maud’s community, to see the legacy that remains in the spirit of the island. I will share other thoughts in days to come – and if you have any questions about our trip, I will warn you that once I start sharing about something dear to my heart, it can be hard to put on the brakes. 😉
Why a blog? Thie actually isn’t new… it stared more than two years ago. Our local newspaper asked for area bloggers, and my husband actually thought I could bring an interesting perspective, one that people needed to hear.
Why a blog? This actually isn’t new… it started more than two years ago. Our local newspaper asked for area bloggers, and my husband actually thought I could bring an interesting perspective, one that people needed to hear. Our chat brought forth a title, “Invisible Issues,” as we so often come into contact with roadblocks that aren’t easily noticeable. As a person living with MS, one whose mobility is becoming challenged in ways that can be a bit frustrating, I submitted the idea to the newspaper. And a blog was born. The paper published this for quite some time, and I submitted one to three postings a week… then the newspaper was sold to different owners, and the blog changed form. My seventy or so posts (which I thankfully saved on my own hard drive) were gone… and their set-up no longer had archives. Also, the blogger had to email in a submission to the editorial board, for it to be approved then posted (sometimes a few days later).
Because my posts would be printed in the newspaper (only a part, but with a link to the online site), I continued… but not as frequently. A blog is meant to be able to have a little – or a big – post, sometimes timely… and able to be edited. If I saw a typo, I emailed it to an editor who would then change the little error. Then came last week. After submitting a post, I found that I couldn’t see it online without a username and password. And one had to pay a newspaper subscription fee to have the said arrangement. So basically, I was volunteering to create a blog that people couldn’t access without paying a fee. (And I couldn’t see my own post until the system came through to assign me a username and password – it took more than a day, and my typos stayed there. And the system they’re using gives a numerical password, one you can’t change to something memorable.)
If I’m to write a blog, I would like it to be accessible (accessibility is one thing I write about). Our newspaper, like newspapers around the country, is struggling to make ends meet. However, I think it is shooting itself in the foot by asking consumers to pay to view online content. I know that this didn’t even work for The New York Times, so I’m not quite sure why they think it will work in east central Indiana. In this age of instant news and access, people will find other news sources that are available free of charge.
So there is my bit of an introduction. One thing I did get from the paper a few months back was permission to use my previous posts in ways I wished. So… I’ll be reposting some of my favorites in the coming weeks. I tend to write in an informal, conversational style, so I’ll likely bop in at times with just a few sentences about life, and at times with a few paragraphs. But I do like to write, so instead of having lots of “this would make a fun blog topic” thoughts that go by the wayside, I’ll try to actually type them out.
Here goes – thanks for coming along for the ride. I will try to not just make us think, but also make us smile.