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Why Did the Turtle Cross the Road?

June 20, 2009 - Phyllis Sigal
What's going on, Mother Nature?

Storms, death and destruction, floods .... feels like the plagues revisited.

On my way to an early Saturday morning appointment, I made my way past a dead opossum (it may have been something else), a dead raccoon and a dead deer — all on just a-few-mile stretch of Wheeling, from Woodsdale to Elm Grove.

Was it the storm that seemed to cause the demise of these creatures? Or just coincidence. Was it just their time to go? For some reason these three, sad lumps on the road caught my attention.

Maybe because death has been on the forefront of my life this week.

My brother's wife, Sandy, died at the young age of 53. A vibrant, brilliant woman, whose passion in life was rock climbing and mathematics, lost her near-decade-long, brave battle with Lyme Disease, breast cancer, intestinal surgery, mercury poisoning .... and more. Too much — too many struggles — for one body to endure.

They made their home in upstate New York, which has the highest concentration of cases of Lyme Disease in the country. People move there to climb rocks. It's a gorgeous, mountainous area of the country.

My brother, Ron — also brilliant — moved there to teach mathematics at State University New York (SUNY) New Paltz. There he met Sandy, who taught in the same department. Both in their 40s, they found that one plus one added up to marriage.

The disease — which can be treated if caught early — eventually forced Sandy to quit teaching, and Ron also left his job to care for his wife.

Doctors, insurance battles, hospitals, emergency rooms, clinics, pain and medication and more pain became their life.

But he was there for her, with love and support, through her sickness. ... She was lucky to have found such a kind, gentle man in my brother. He devoted himself to her care.

While their life, their journey together was difficult, he considers himself blessed to have had her in his life.

A poem read at the funeral was perfectly fitting. Here is an excerpt:

"Birth is a beginning and death a destination; But life is a journey. ...

"We see that victory lies not at some high place along the way, But in having made the journey, stage by stage, a sacred pilgrimage. Birth is a beginning and death a destination; But life is a journey, a sacred pilgrimage, Made stage by stage...To life everlasting."

On that stretch of road this morning, I noticed a little creature making its way from one side of National Road to the other. I slowed my car and looked. ...

It was a turtle, ever so slowly creeping. ...

I hope it made it across the road.

Life is a journey.


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