I sit quietly in my bedroom at my IKEA desk in the early morning looking at the white frost on the tree branches outside my window. I can feel the cold penetrate my bones when I step into the cedar closet from the ceiling that leads into the attic which never got insulation. The kind that you see advertised by a tall, pink panther. Another symbol of good old fashioned American consumerism.
Some days, when I don't bundle up, I close my eyes and think back to those very, very cold winters in Chicago, where I grew up. I see the tall, blue tinged mounds of snow in the parking lot of the park across the street from the house where I spent my early years. I can still see my smiles as I race down the man-made hills we created in this very flat, very concrete Midwest. Little did I know that years down the road, I would actually be living at the base of the some of the most beautiful "real" mountains in the world.
I can still smell the freshness of the snow and the cold, always tempered by the passing heat of a sun dripping with yellow "gold," for as anyone who has lived in the "Bread Basket of America,"climate would attest to, unadulterated sunlight is rare and cherished.
Mostly I remember the people and the times. A country shaken and aimless, in the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Bobby and Martin Luther King, Jr. I vividly remember that November day in 1963, sitting at my desk at St. Peter's Catholic School, wearing my white shirt with the Peter Pan collar and green plaid skirt working on my assignment when all of a sudden I hear a rapid, voice blaring from the loud speaker.
I look up, teachers are crying and we are sent home from school. My parents, distraught and shaken, as our family takes vigil for three days while we bury our beloved President. The black and white television coverage blurry and imperfect, recording a grieving widow, two lost children and a nation shocked and forever altered.
Mostly I remember the bare branches of cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. on that day, icicles frozen in time. The many mourners, lining the pathway of the procession wrapped in heavy coats, mittens and hats, still unable to escape the bitterness in the air and of the moment, seeing their breath in the deep sigh of inexplicable sadness.
The final goodbye, filled with memories of a nation empowered and young by a message of goodwill and strength. Hailing us children as the future, the hopes of a country having endured so much, yet with so much more to give. I button my Land's End down coat, slip my hands into my warm, leather gloves and step outside the house. I raise my right hand to shield my eyes from the overwhelming brightness of the sunlight, take a deep breath and exhale white frost into the air around me. Life is good. What can I do today to make it better for those around me?
Dr. Ballard is a Board Certified Internist and Geriatrician. She practices in Enumclaw, WA, 360-825-1389. Her first novel, "Revealed," is available on Amazon, Kindle and Smashwords.