“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
John Lennon, Beautiful Boy
Mother G. and I stand there, almost holding our breath, watching Sheldon as he reads the letter. The expression on his face quickly changes from seriousness to a delighted grin.
“Just listen to this,” he shouts and reads aloud, “Gerry has written us and said you are worried about the length of time your mononucleosis is keeping you from work. Sheldon, we hired you for several reasons. Your education and attitude were two, and the record of your summer work on our seismic crews were two more. We consider that you are one of our permanent employees, on temporary sick leave. Continue the recovery and we will welcome you back when you are able.”
“What do you think of that?” Sheldon asks. Mother G. and I, of course, are crying and laughing at the same time.
“I’m so proud of you, son,” she says, “Now relax and get well.” With that she goes to start lunch. I give Sheldon a big hug and kiss, and leave to set the table. I am thinking, “Another hurdle over, thank heavens!”
Sheldon’s recovery seems to speed up after that; perhaps it is because the worry is gone. Finally the day arrives when the blood test results are good. The Haig doctors pronounce him “recovered” and ready to go back to work. It is with joy and regret that we pack our things, and prepare to leave. It is hard to say goodbye to the family, and impossible to thank them enough. We will take the train back to Saskatchewan, to a town called Kerrobert.
There is another family “committee” gathered at the station, not a welcoming but a “Goodbye and Good Luck” one. The Haig doctors and other relatives are there. More than one reminded him to continue his weekly blood test. We board the train and are off, going back to Regina, then north and west to Kerrobert. This will be a short job for the crew before moving to Wainwright, Alberta to rejoin the rest of the crew.
Sheldon leaves for work this morning, happily and early.
“Why so early, Sheldon?”
“I want to get there in time to check over the instruments in the truck again. Does this ever feel good – back to work. Don’t try lifting anything too heavy in your unpacking, Marjie. I’ll help you tonight.”
Things are going well. Sheldon comes home, happy and tired. Today he found a public health nurse who took a blood sample. She will get it analyzed and bring him the results tomorrow.
The next day comes and goes. It is almost supper time, and I hear Sheldon coming. Going to the door I say, “Welcome home, Sheldon. Any news?”
“Yes, and a bit of a blow. The test results show a slight slippage.”
“Oh Sheldon, what does this mean? Will you have to stop work again?”
“Yes and no, Marjie. Gerry is not impressed. He says I was managing the work fine, and the blood test has not dropped very much. He believes if I just cut out the field work for a short time, it will recover.”
“But what will you do in the meantime?”
“He has moved me to the field office where the interpreters do their work. I am now officially an interpreter trainee, and on full salary.”
“Sheldon, how wonderful. Do you think you will like it?”
“That hardly matters. It means that hopefully I can be useful while we wait and see what my tests show. Gerry says it will teach me to have more respect for the skill of the interpreters than most field workers have!”
A couple of weeks have passed. Gerry proved to be right. Sheldon’s blood tests have rebounded and are staying up. Tomorrow we move to Wainwright. It will be great to see all the crew families together again. Tonight we will pack, tomorrow travel, the next day find a place to live – and then it will be back to field work for Sheldon.
The day has finally arrived, all the ducks are in a row. After two and a half months, Sheldon is really and truly well. He got up early again this morning and put on his clean, unused work clothes. A quick breakfast, and I see him out as he heads for the field crew’s assembly place. I return to our basement suite and start my household chores. It is a nice day, the sun is pouring in our small basement windows. There is a telephone in the hall to serve the three suites. It rings and someone answers and calls out, “For Marjorie Gibson.”
“Hello –who is calling? Sheldon, is something wrong?”
“Well, yes,” a sheepish voice answers. “Could you bring me down another pair of work pants? I must have put on some weight this summer. Bent over to pick up some equipment and the seam in the seat of my pants split open. Please be as quick as you can – the crew is waiting for me to get decent so we can go to work.”
“At your service, honey – I’ll be right down.”
Sheldon is waiting for me at the edge of the assembly area. He hurries over.
“Great, Marjie, many thanks. See you later.”
He hustles off through the group of amused co-workers and heads for the restroom to change. As I walk home (carrying the torn pants) my mind wanders back over the last few months. This is a period I will not forget. So many emotions involved – the love and excitement of being newly married, fear boarding on terror when I thought Sheldon might die, panic when I did not feel strong enough to cope with such unfamiliar problems, relief and joy when life returned to normal.
Mixed with this is the deep gratitude for all the help, comfort and love that has buoyed us up when we needed it. A lot has been crammed into the first four months of our marriage. I sigh, breathe in the warm September air, and say to myself, “This mononucleosis business is really over, thank heavens. Sheldon and I in these four months have experienced a lot. Surely marriage isn’t always this unpredictable. Guess time will answer that. In the meantime, I’ll wait to see what unexpected surprise is waiting for us around the next corner. Think I’ll go home and do the dishes. Then I’m going for a long walk and enjoy this lovely fall day. That much I can be sure of. Life feels good again.”