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Yesterday started on a positive note. A girlfriend I graduated with surprised me with a phone call. We don’t call each other often, but we see each other at least every summer and send Christmas cards.

She offered her condolences, and then we started reminiscing. The reason for the call: We went with two boys and two teachers to New York to a convention for our yearbook on St. Patrick’s Day when we were juniors in high school. We had a lot of fun on this trip. Neither of us remember our time in college, but we both remembered our experiences.

I remember being put in a waiting room that was about the size of a broom closet, with the brooms, while they got us tickets to sit together at a play. I also remembered the guy sitting next to me asking if I was going to Brown – Brown University. I guess that was a compliment. I remember going to dinner at this fancy restaurant. I had no idea what some of the things on the menu were. I settled for a sirloin patty – it was about the only thing I could afford.

Our conversation over, we said goodbye and promised to meet again, perhaps during the summer at his cabin.

There were errands to run that I had been putting off for a while. As the day was sunny and mild, I decided it was the day to do them. I loaded shoes and clothes into the car – things that belonged to my husband. I sure hope someone who needs them gets them.

Then it was on the gas pumps. My total wasn’t too bad. I filled the tank, but it only took a little over seven gallons. I don’t travel much these days.

My next stop was for groceries. I met a lady I hadn’t seen for a long time. She used to live like this but moved to Warren. She sent me a condolence card. I thanked her for the card and her personal message. We talked a bit and then parted ways.

I found most of the things I wanted at the store. It seems funny to go to the store and not be able to find things. It’s like that these days. Our supply chain has been disrupted.

Let’s go to the car wash. Before Don and I got married, we went to the car wash together. He was the driver when we washed the vehicles. Finally, I stopped at the machine to make my payment. I intended to pay cash, so I pressed this icon on the screen that came up. Nothing happened. I tried something else, but that didn’t work either. I finally picked up my phone and dialed the number that was on the panel. I explained my dilemma and a girl appeared to help me. By then I was in tears (I held on until the girl left). It seems like whatever I do goes wrong without Don by my side. I had washed my car before we got married, but I guess they had to change the machine.

It brought back memories of Dick’s death. So much happened that first year that I became frustrated. It seemed like I couldn’t do anything right. Eventually things calmed down and life went on.

I think I got excited when things didn’t work out. It upset me and then I was lost. Head to the post office. Don had a post office box. I had been getting his mail for quite a while. Towards the end, he just couldn’t find enough energy to get his own mail. I used the combination the lady gave me last week. It seemed so easy when she was next to me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t open the little door. Just another thing I couldn’t do. It still brought tears.

I guess I will continue to find things that I am unable to do on my own. Eventually things will calm down and I will be able to function again. For now, I’ll stick to the things I know I can do.

I can cook. I can cook. I can clean. I can go to the pancake supper at our church. It will be a bittersweet night for me. Don and I worked together for a few years. Now I am alone again.

PS The Akeley Pancake Supper is this Saturday, March 26 at the church from 4:30-7:00 p.m. They will be serving pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, homemade applesauce and drinks. It is always a social event with people coming from near and far for fellowship. The price of the dinner is by donation. Hope to see you there!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pennsylvania. Contact

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