When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.
In the seventh year Jehoiada sent for the commanders of units of a hundred, the Carites and the guards and had them brought to him at the temple of the Lord. He made a covenant with them and put them under oath at the temple of the Lord. Then he showed them the king’s son. He commanded them, saying, “This is what you are to do: You who are in the three companies that are going on duty on the Sabbath—a third of you guarding the royal palace, a third at the Sur Gate, and a third at the gate behind the guard, who take turns guarding the temple—and you who are in the other two companies that normally go off Sabbath duty are all to guard the temple for the king. Station yourselves around the king, each of you with weapon in hand. Anyone who approaches your ranks is to be put to death. Stay close to the king wherever he goes.”
- 2 Kings 11:1-8
For the Scripture, the word “normal” does not appear in the NIV, and the only derivative is the word “normally” in the Scripture above. And this Scripture is far from normal, with the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, as the mother of the king of Judah, who has just died, killing everyone to secure her ascension to the throne. Not the kind of story you would expect from the nation established to shine God’s Light to the world.
Before talking about our day, how did the day become abnormal? It was a Sunday. I teach a Sunday school class. The church leadership thought cancelling Sunday school for ninth grade through adults was a good idea, in order to have a business meeting between the two worship services for one Sunday. Yes, I wrote what you just read. I guess they have been having a hard time getting a quorum at such meetings. I am sick of fighting “city hall,” so, the week prior to the cancelled class, I asked my wife what she wanted to do. She said that she wanted to play hooky from the entire mess and go on a drive somewhere.
So playing hooky was set, but then it was the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving and her dialysis schedule was shifted so that the staff would not have to work on the Holiday. She was scheduled to have dialysis on Monday instead of Tuesday. So, again, another abnormality. Sunday was still free, but the only day between dialysis sessions, no day to rest after a short day trip.
About a year ago it seems, I took her on the mountain road from our area to Wheeling, West Virginia. We used to go to the Cleveland area, usually Parma, Ohio where there is a nice German restaurant. But it had probably been over a decade since we had travelled east across the eastern continental divide of the USA, from water flowing to the Gulf of Mexico to water flowing to the Atlantic Ocean. To meet my wife’s criteria for “going on a drive,” it had to involve getting out of the state of Pennsylvania, and West Virginia was too easy of a trip. We go there often.
I chose Cumberland, MD. It was only a little over two hours away. I researched a half dozen museums and galleries. I looked for unusual shopping. I looked for places that would not be closed on Sunday and I checked hours of operation. I checked weather – slight chance of rain, no snow, but no freezing weather and no freezing precipitation. Actually, that eliminated Erie, PA and the western tip of New York state as a backup plan – possibly lake-effect snow. I am usually a lot more spontaneous, but this time, I had to be sure.
The day before, at her usual Saturday dialysis, her pulse went into atrial fibrillation (A-Fib). It wasn’t the bad kind, but her pulse rate was high and each time it was checked, it was significantly different. The nurses insisted that she go to the hospital for a few days of rest – right before the holiday. Knowing the day trip was scheduled, she refused. After they took her off the dialysis machine, her pulse settled down nicely. Note: Could it be they are not doing the dialysis the right way – specifically for her? Just asking.
As it turned out drove to Cumberland. We parked in a park area where there were two museums, both closed. One was the train station where they provided scenic trips through the mountains, 4-5 hour day trips. For Christmas week, they plan on a Polar Express train ride each day, and they shut down the museum, the trains (both diesel and steam), and the train station to decorate. There was another railroad museum a block away and they shut down to give their employees the week off for Thanksgiving. Neither of these closures were on the Internet, although there was no schedule for train trips – no reason given.
So, the alternate railroad museum that was closed was next to a gift shop. My wife loves shopping. It did not open for another 45 minutes. That was what the railroad museum was for. We went to a shop that sold “European Pastries.” He was not false advertising. He had pastries from Greece, France, Germany, Italy, and some unknown to us. He was from the former Yugoslavia, but he said nothing about what country it was now. We bought pastries but had them boxed. We sat and watched Euro News on Roku with him in the dining area, since we were the only customers in his shop.
After the gift shop opened, we bought several things and my wife decided that she was hungry for lunch. I figured that we could walk halfway between the shop and where the car was parked and go to a restaurant that served Maryland crab cakes – not as good as in Baltimore, on the bay, but tasty and well worth it. I suggested more time killing, as a winery was opening in 45 minutes, but she was spent and wanted to go home. Really, she had researched on the way to Cumberland regarding a town nearby, but everything she wanted to do was closed on Sunday.
Our new normal – since the start of dialysis, over 15 months ago – is four-hour dialysis, three days per week and church on Sunday, even if it is only Sunday school, since I teach. The other three days are spent grocery shopping, pharmacy shopping, and going to doctor’s offices. The rare off day is spent doing household chores and sleeping – never catching up on rest.
When my wife asked for us to play hooky, I remembered when I first started teaching. I had been sent to nuclear reactor operating school, the classroom portion, to research the basis for the first maintenance course that I wrote, the Fundamentals of Operations for the Equipment that the maintenance people maintained. I aced every course in Operator school, which caused the operations people to get angry with me. Then nearly a dozen maintenance foremen were added to the team and another engineer, we went to classroom presentation classes, and then, I taught the team the course I had written. One lesson was added, for the electrical power grid, outside the operation of the nuclear reactors, maintained by the reactor maintenance people though.
Once we started teaching, I taught 4-5 hours of a week-long course, filling in for anyone who was absent. Under my loose supervision, each of the foremen taught the subjects in their area of expertise, including the other engineer who taught a few lessons, and then I administered the examination, graded it, and counseled each trainee before he went home that Friday afternoon. After about five months of never having a day off, Monday through Friday, we compressed the class to four days, skipping Wednesday, for the supervisors. We started having one supervisor class each month, with the rest of the month for the remaining maintenance people, including a few remedial classes, and I always felt compelled to take off that free Wednesday. I could not help myself. I had no control over my schedule, and then when I had only office work to do for just one day per month, I took a vacation day instead.
So, I know where my wife was coming from. She needed to get away.
She needed to feel free. She has been having cognitive issues. The neurologist first thought it was Alzheimer’s, but he has changed his mind. He now thinks stress and sleep deprivation. Both of those might be lessened by “getting away” and forgetting about dialysis, and tests, and all the other stuff.
If only for a day.
Praise the Lord, the little bit of rain did not bother us at all. Yes, Lord, we played hooky from church, but your protection was upon us. Thank you for our abnormal day that was needed so that we could once again feel normal. Amen.
And also praise the Lord for a working graft. Still so technical issues, but the graft is working, at least with the first attempt.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.