The Journey

For those anticipating ‘the verdict,’ I need to provide a bit of background; however, keep reading…the verdict and more intriguing details will soon follow. Please feel free to comment or ask questions. Feedback is helpful.

If any one would have asked me if I would relocate to the Northeast, specifically Pennsylvania, from rural Virginia, I would have thought they were dreaming. I grew up and lived in Southeastern Virginia surrounded by the most beautiful rivers, Chesapeake Bay and areas filled with rich history.

In 1993, the chemical company where I was working announced they were closing the facilities and moving employees to various locations throughout the East Coast. I was offered a promotion and asked to do my job from the company’s New Jersey office. While I should have been proud of receiving a promotion and a relocation package, I fought hard to keep the tears from flowing since a move meant leaving all that was familiar and heading to the Northeast was like moving to another country as far as I was concerned. I had a house, a two-year old, dog, cat and a VW mini-bus that was unable to navigate the ‘hills’ of Virginia. What was I getting myself into I kept thinking as the movers packed the mattress I slept on the night before and we began our trek north?

As we drove along I kept thinking how important family was and how I was leaving them to relocate to an area where I knew no one. I wanted desperately to give my child the life of a typical middle-class family with lots of relatives. Since both of my parents come from large Southern families my relatives could fill a small stadium. I loved it that way.

While growing up, Mom stayed at home taking care of the house and raising children. Even to this day I don’t know how she did it…a husband, three children, a large family as well as a house, doctor‘s appointments, school projects, etc. She was always there when we came home and always listened when we needed to talk. She took care of all the domestic details while Dad worked for the same company for 40-plus years.

Times were much simpler when I was growing up. No one minded kids running through their yards, hiding in their flower beds, or climbing their trees. It was a different world then…safer. We knew all the people in the neighborhood, which was a terrific way to live. I miss that for my child. I miss that myself. How could I create this world for my child when I was raising her eight hours away from the only support I had ever known and without close friends or neighbors to depend on?

Life’s lessons up until that point, as well as what I was taught at the all-women’s college I attended, helped prepare me for the unknown. What I did know, and was able to fall back on during the Northeast move, was my sense of independence and the ability to believe in myself. We were taught in college, both in and out of the classroom, how to develop our talents and abilities while gaining a Liberal Arts education. I felt then, and even today, very fortunate that my parent’s wanted me to go to college since many students my age weren‘t given this opportunity. My parent’s made it easier by paying for college leaving me with no student loans. Dad reminded me constantly no matter what I did with my life a college degree could never be taken away.

After a few weeks in Pennsylvania, I discovered I was still capable of doing my job in VA or NJ. I did make new friends quickly, learned I had great neighbors and even came to appreciate the value of car pooling since a one hour commute from Pennsylvania to New Jersey turned into a four-hour ‘tour’ the very first day of work. I saw a lot of New Jersey that day and even came to know why it’s called The Garden State.

As I think back to the move, was I only focused on the present and forgot to look ahead? Maybe I wasn’t surrounding my child with her family on a daily basis, but I took a leap of faith and ventured to the unknown. Would this mean that I was able to provide for her in other ways? After all, we were only eight hours away from ‘home,’ but learned what 96-plus inches of snow really looks like, that the thermometer can really read -24, Broadway shows are outstanding but have very uncomfortable seating and only New York has the best bagels!

Had I really made the right decision? Only time would tell.

©My Unplanned Life and, 2011.


About mswd

I am an individual living with a spinal cord injury. How the injury occurred, how I found out how severe my injury was and how my planned life suddenly became 'unplanned' is included in this blog. Also included is how the injury has tested my family and me. I believe you will discover it has been both a mentally and physically challenging ordeal and I learned a few lessons along the way. While I am still defining my life’s purpose since the injury, I have uncovered those who are injured, live with pain or have other obstacles to navigate are never able to escape. However, come with me as I explore ways to improve my life, learn to live with multiple neurological conditions, educate others and look for the silver lining. I believe with a little willpower, my caring family and God's guidance I will learn to forgive, hopefully forget how I was treated and dismissed by a doctor and uncover life's new purpose. I pray for painfree days and answers to questions that keep swirling through my mind. I also pray for a cure for neurological conditions and for the doctors to treat their patients with respect. Welcome to my journey. I would love to hear about yours!
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