THE BEST VIEW: What do I miss?

by Norma Best Boucher

I locked up my car and walked to the sidewalk leading to the thrift shop. When I looked up, the child’s eyes met mine. We both smiled.

“What a beautiful baby,” I told the young mother.

Inches away from them, looking straight at the face of the roughly six- month-old child, I said, “I should say what a handsome little boy.”

The boy smiled again and reached out his arms to me.

Surprised but pleased, I asked, “Do you mind if I hold your baby?”

“No, go right ahead,” she answered reaching towards me so that I could take the child into my arms.

I held on tightly, and he held tightly onto me. He put his little arms around my neck and hugged me with his soft cheek against mine.

After a sweet hug he adjusted his body on my hip so that he was again looking at me and smiling.

“I haven’t held a baby in 30 years,” I told her. “Thank you for sharing your baby with me.”

“You’re welcome,” she answered. “He really likes you.”

Warm from the hug and still smiling, I said, “I’m glad… because I really like him.”

* * * * * *

“What do you miss?” the young man asks the old woman.

Ah, now, let me think.

I miss not the washing of the second floor windows but the climbing of the ladder.

I miss not the city of my youth but the bicycling through the beautiful streets.

I miss not the birthdays and the holidays but the people who were there and are here no more.

I miss not the daily visits but the cat Olivia and the dog Scooter, whom I loved and who loved me.

I miss not the ice and the snow but the ice skating, the sledding, and the after sitting by the warm stove sipping my mother’s hot chocolate.

I miss not the dream house of a young mother but the toddler son running through the home laughing and playing.

“So, you do miss?” asks the young man of the old woman.

“Oh, yes,” answers the old woman.

“I miss.”

THE BEST VIEW: From the “Catbird Seat”

by Norma Best Boucher

My cat Olivia loves to bird watch.

In her wild outside cat days, I suppose she hunted a few birds, but she was more content catching lizards and snakes that didn’t take off into the air in the middle of the chase. I found many heads of these dead reptiles at my back door…but never a bird.

Now, in her elder years, she sits for hours on the screened-in porch and watches the myriad of feathered friends as they flit and feed at the large hanging bird feeder.

Many of the same birds return daily. Some birds guard as a mate feeds. Other birds wait patiently for their turn, while others squeeze in to be the first to snatch the best seeds.

Olivia lies silently on the sill watching them, their colors and their lives.

The bird feeder is perched from a tree on a new three-foot metal holder that is meant to deter squirrels and raccoons. The previous holder was too short. Squirrels hung from the feeder and flicked seed from the feeding holes, and raccoons tried to lift the feeder off the bracket.

Now the weight of the full feeder is too much for the raccoons to lift, but the tenacious thieves never give up trying. While a squirrel or raccoon tries to outsmart the feeder, other squirrels and raccoons congregate under the feeder to grab the seeds as they fall to the ground.

There is usually a frenzy. Olivia loves watching these antics…so do I.

I remember Olivia as a feral kitten. Her innocent playfulness made me smile and laugh with enjoyment.

I’d yell, “Kitty, Kitty,” and wave a white paper towel letting her know that I had treats for her. She’d be sweet with me but was a fighter with feline trespassers and protected her territory with ruthless behavior.

Later, too old to win her fights and blind in one eye, she finally relented and became a house cat guarding her new territory from unseen marauders from her perch on the bed.

Today, Olivia, at age 18, sits on the sill in the screened in porch and watches safely the feral life she once enjoyed. We no longer play as we did, but she can be seen sometimes racing through the rooms chasing imaginary foes.

She is never very far from me, sitting with me, touching me lightly with her tail, or just nestling close to me as I sleep.

“A senior citizen,” the young vet calls her.

From my own catbird seat, I smile.

You see, we have grown older – together…Olivia and I.

THE BEST VIEW: Christmas memories

by Norma Best Boucher

Christmas time is sometimes the happiest, sometimes the saddest time of the year. People are so wrapped up in the moment that they forget to remember. Often a simple thing like a card, an ornament, or a song will trigger their memories, and for a brief moment the past embellishes the present.

When I was young, my mother always decorated our Christmas tree. I’d sit on the couch and watch the lights sparkle, and she’d ask me where each ornament should go. I could have helped, but somehow watching my mother build Christmas with that tree was too special to interrupt. That was tradition.

Perry Como was tradition, too. While we decorated the tree, we listened to our Season’s Greetings from Perry Como album. As we listened to We Wish You A Merry Christmas, my mother, Perry, and I decorated our Christmas tree.

I have carried on the Christmas tree tradition. I don’t know why – it just happened. It felt comfortable. I decorate the tree, and my son tells me where the ornaments should go. The only difference is Arthur Fiedler. When we decorate our tree, the Boston Pops plays in the background. Perry Como is tucked away…with my memories.

My mother is gone now. It’s been 18 years. I’ve been so busy creating my own traditions that I haven’t had time to remember hers. Perhaps I haven’t dared.

This year when the time came to decorate our Christmas tree, everyone else was busy, so Arthur and I were going to carry on the tradition alone. I dug out the Boston Pops album, dusted it off, and put it on the stereo.

Then, something wonderful happened. Maybe it was an accident, maybe it was my subconscious playing a trick on me, or maybe it was just tradition, but last Christmas I confused the records, and from the sleeve of the Boston Pops album I pulled out Season’s Greetings from Perry Como, and We Wish You A Merry Christmas filled the house.

Alone, I laughed and I cried as all the beautiful memories flooded back. They had waited 18 long years, and they would wait no longer.

This is going to be a beautiful Christmas – one of the best I’ve ever had – full of tradition. I know because I’ve already experienced one of the best parts. My mother, Perry and I decorated our Christmas tree.

THE BEST VIEW: Snapshots

by Norma Best Boucher

After supper yesterday when my friends and I were walking, we saw first, an osprey, then a hawk, and bringing up the rear a black bird chasing the other two.

The osprey landed on the bank of the retention pond only to find the hawk swooping down upon him. They both took flight with the black bird literally on their tails. The osprey and hawk flew off in opposite directions. With those birds gone, the black bird returned to the tree where he most likely was guarding a nest.

There was a lot of action and noise for a few seconds.

I do believe there is definitely a lesson to be learned from this David and two Goliaths’ battle.

* * * * * *

We have a new “homemade” donut shop that just opened near my house. I mean within walking distance.

A neighbor gave me a sample, a mochi donut, which was the best donut I have ever eaten. So, of course, I had to go to the new shop. Mochi donuts are only sold on the weekends. This was Monday, so I bought a coconut donut.

When I saw the coconut atop the donut, I immediately thought of Harris Bakery coconut cream donuts. Today’s coconut donut was good but not Harris Bakery good.

I will return Saturday for a Mochi donut.

* * * * * *

When retired people panic:

The books I put on hold at different times at the library have all come in at the same time – Today!


I hope some of these are the DVD’s I ordered.

* * * * * *

OMG! Another library notice – Another book is in, either the fourth or the fifth. I have lost count.

This is either a “horn of plenty” or “When it rains, it pours.”

Can you believe this?

How many books/DVDs have I actually requested?

Another retiree problem – I don’t remember. The exact total of books reserved isn’t yet in my long-term memory.

I ponder this dilemma.

You know, I go for days with nothing exciting happening.

I think that I am going to savor this moment of drama.

* * * * * *

When I went to eat at a fast food restaurant today, I hit a roadblock, literally. I drove on the third lane circling the building bypassing the drive thru windows and was halted by a rope across the pathway. I wouldn’t have cared, but there was no sign warning about this blocked roadway. Luckily, when I had to back up, there was no one else behind me.

When I ordered my lunch at the inside counter, I reported, to no avail, the possibly dangerous dilemma that cars were encountering.

With my lunch I sat by a window that overlooked the questionable parking lot area where several cars went in and then backed out of the roped off area. At one point three cars were caught together and backed up in a rather chaotic strategy.

The climax of my lunch was when a Waste Management truck passed by, could not reach the trash receptacle, and backed up with the very loud backup alarm catching everyone’s attention including the drive-thru customers who could not yell loudly enough to order over the loud alarm.

I finished my lunch, grabbed my book, which I had not even opened, and left the building. I went to my car, which I had parked a very long way away. I was careful as the parking lot had become an obstacle course with my dodging cars that were still going and retreating in that blocked lane.

The dodging of cars was not the only problem.

The odor from the Waste Management truck still lingered in the air.

Do you remember when we were young, and our mothers gave us the mail addressed “Occupant?” How I loved getting that mail. I don’t know if I even knew what the word “Occupant” meant, but I rushed to the mailbox for “my” mail.

Now the “Occupant “reads “Resident,” and there is so much “Resident” mail that I have to take a bag to the mailbox to collect it all.

One good thing, though, is that I now know the difference between yesterday’s “Occupant” and today’s “Resident.”

Today’s “Resident” means I pay the bills.

THE BEST VIEW: The pumpkin factor

by Norma Best Boucher

Fall isn’t a date on my calendar, the lowering of the outside temperature, nor the coloring of leaves.

Fall is the day I buy my heirloom pale blue Jarrahdale pumpkin.

I didn’t start out being highfalutin.

On the contrary, I started out modestly years ago with a garden next to our house in Waterville where I grew green beans, yellow waxed beans, stunted carrots, ears and ears of too small yellow corn which I never ate because every year the raccoons raided all of the corn the night before we harvested (phew), a multitude of cucumbers, dozens of zucchinis, and hundreds of tomatoes.

No one warned me about how many tomatoes grew from 24 tomato plants fertilized with decades old cow manure.

Although I enjoyed eating all of the vegetables I grew, my favorite plants to grow were the gigantic sunflowers and the many orange pumpkins.

The sunflowers offered hours of enjoyment. Blue jays landed on the large flowers growing in the garden and heatedly pecked at the individual seeds causing the long, thick sunflower stems to sway back and forth with the weight of the birds.

Once I put sunflower heads on our front door for decoration and heard the loud “tap, tap, tap” on the wooden door. Two and three blue jays at a time pecking to dislodge the large flower seeds sounded more like a woodpecker drumming out his territorial dominance.

My favorite plant was the pumpkin.

At first, I grew the ordinary pumpkins which matured in a variety of shapes. My young son repositioned them daily to prevent any really oddly shaped pumpkins. We didn’t want any flat spots formed from where the pumpkin settled on the ground.

Later, I added the New England Pie Pumpkins, which were smaller, heavy, quite tasty, and perfectly pumpkin shaped. These always perfectly shaped pumpkins certainly gave their part of the garden a very regimented appearance.

As the garden leaves withered and browned, the lively orange toned pumpkins kept the dying garden alive with color.

My quest for the perfect pumpkin in Florida wasn’t an easy task. I first bought a very large, beautiful orange pumpkin for my fall display of “one pumpkin.” Within two weeks, the sun had literally cooked the inside of the vegetable giving my patio a very distinctive pumpkin pie aroma. The large pumpkin sunk from within.

I borrowed a neighbor’s cart to haul it away to the dumpster.

I thought about displaying a ceramic pumpkin or even a lightweight plastic pumpkin, but I was leery that ceramic would break or that plastic would fly away into someone else’s yard.

I reluctantly settled on a wooden stake with a painted pumpkin, but as realistic as it looked from a distance, up close and personal was a different story.

Then, one day while in the grocery store, I fell in love. Among the many differently colored pumpkins, I saw the one I wanted – a large, slightly flattened, round, almost perfectly vertically grooved BLUE pumpkin.

I had to have it. Who cared if it cooked from the inside? I was going to enjoy this pumpkin for as long as possible if for no other reason than my favorite color is BLUE.

From the grocery store bagger’s lifting and placing the pumpkin onto my car seat to my husband’s carrying and placing the pumpkin onto its place of honor, a multicolored earth toned upside down flowerpot, that globular BLUE fruit was MINE.

At first neighbors marveled:


“Never saw anything like it.”

“A blue what?”

As time passed, people stopped less often. Then, as not just the weeks went by, but as the months flew by, neighbors questioned:

“That thing hasn’t rotted yet?”

“It must be full of ants.”

“Are you sure it’s real?”

Even I grew tired of the blue pumpkin. I had bought the amazing blue wonder in mid-September. The date was now May 15. I was eight months older, but the blue pumpkin hadn’t aged one bit. The blue had faded a little, but the skin was taut, and the flesh was still solid to the tap.

There was only one thing to do. I borrowed my neighbor’s cart and hauled the formerly loved pumpkin to the dumpster.

I went on with my life for the next four months and forgot about this experience. That is until yesterday when I was shopping at the grocery store. I turned the corner, and there they were…a multitude of pumpkins in varying shapes and colors.

I perused the display. Behind three white pumpkins was another of my beloved perfectly shaped large BLUE pumpkins…calling my name. The lure was just too much.

I moved the white pumpkins aside and somehow lifted the heavy BLUE sphere onto the bottom shelf of my grocery cart. Furtively, I checked out, lifted the pumpkin onto the car seat and then finally placed the beautiful BLUE orb onto its place of honor atop the flowerpot which had remained empty for the last four months.

I discovered – through the internet, no less – that the BLUE Jarrahdale pumpkin may last for up to 12 months. Something has to be done.

In the garden, pumpkins and sunflowers are companion plants. Although this new pumpkin is no longer growing, maybe sunflowers could benefit from being planted nearby.

I am going to plant two, four, maybe even six giant sunflower plants in my small sandy area surrounding my “one pumpkin” display. In 12 sunny Florida months I might even be able to get two plantings of sunflowers.

Let the Florida blue jays work for their winter seeds while they swing and sway on the flower heads, and, once again, I may smile as I watch them from my window.

This year I will not chuck the pumpkin when I tire of its beauty. I will, instead, harvest the seeds, dry them, and send them off to Maine gardening friends so they may enjoy a regimented area of their garden with nearly perfectly shaped BLUE pumpkins.

Any takers?

THE BEST VIEW: White potato, blue potato…

by Norma Best Boucher

I am writing a cookbook. No, really, I am. Everyone else has written a cookbook – a pioneer woman, a Barefoot Contessa, Frankie Avalon. Yes, even teen idol Frankie Avalon has written a cookbook. What to write about? That is the question.

Most chefs promote recipes that are their favorites but with a personal “twist.” I am tired of the favorites and need an alternative. I am talking about the potato.

I have loved the potato for decades, seven decades to be exact. My mother boiled them with little onions. I have mashed them, smashed them, and smothered them with butter, herbs, and sour cream. I have steamed them, baked them, roasted them, and even scalloped them, but I have run out of personal “twists” that make me say, “More potatoes, please.”

No one is more disappointed than I. Just when we have a cornucopia of “wonder food” potatoes filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, I, not the potato, have failed the potato test.

Oh, I may eat macaroni and cheese, but that is not my comfort food and will not sustain me through the cold winter. I cannot eat mac and cheese every day for six months, as I can the potato.

What to do? Oh, what to do?

Then, it hit me – rice. Rice sustains the other half of the world’s population. Rice is filled with all of the nutrients I need, and I have so many choices: white, brown, Arborio, jasmine, basmati, wild and even forbidden rice. My quest began.

First, I tried the white – short, medium and long grain. I progressed to the brown, a nutty experience. I made risotto with the Arborio and continued with the fragrant jasmine and the non-clumping basmati. I went to my wild side with the wild rice and then finally to the forbidden rice that only the emperor could eat.

I tried. I really did, but they just didn’t make it. I cooked the rice in chicken broth, fruit juices and even wine. I added toppings – roasted vegetables, marscarpone cheese, dates, cherries, apples, pecans, cashews, and even pistachio nuts. I added everything but chocolate. I loved the toppings, but the rice was still just rice. I missed my beloved potato.

“I love the toppings,” I thought.

“I love potatoes,” I thought.

The white potato, the blue potato, the red potato, the gold potato, the sweet potato, the fingerlings, and the baby potatoes all took on a new meaning to my life. I started adding the cheese, the dates, the cherries, the apples, and all of the nuts.

Once again, I was at one with the potato.

A cookbook was born.

If a pioneer woman, a Barefoot Contessa, and a teen idol can publish a cookbook, so can I.

Watch out,, here I come: Potatoes – Everything but Chocolate, by a Twisted Potato Lover.

THE BEST VIEW: And then…

by Norma Best Boucher

I just spent one of the best mornings I could want. I didn’t set out to do that. I don’t think that life works that way. I do try to start every day with a positive attitude, but this morning God just pointed me in a direction and said, “Enjoy!”

The weather was cool for Florida, a beautiful winter morning, when I took my early morning walk just as the sun came up. I usually walk with my neighbor’s Yorkie, Scooter, but today I was especially early and just took off alone. I didn’t realize that I usually look down or at eye level when Scooter is with me. I have to be careful that he doesn’t step on fire ant hills or disturb any snakes. Today, I looked everywhere and discovered a leafless deciduous tree silhouetted against the morning sky. Suddenly, my mind was back home in Waterville, Maine, walking on Elm Court and School Street on a beautiful cool day.

Florida is filled with beautiful full-leaf and flowered trees that thrive in the winter, but at that Maine memory moment the leafless branches on that tree were more beautiful than all of the other trees combined. Right next to it was a smaller palm tree. The two trees together seemed to epitomize my own life – the majority of my years spent in Maine and the last of my years spent in Florida. The larger tree had the deepest and best root system just like my own life in Maine.

And then – My cat Olivia and I were sitting on the screened-in porch when a beautiful hawk landed a few feet from us. She saw him first. I saw her body stiffen and followed her gaze. The hawk was perched on the roof in a majestic pose. As his head turned, I saw the downward curve of his sharp beak and his proverbial “hawk eyes” sizing up the backyard. Olivia did not move. Neither did I. He was even more beautiful when he took flight and flew past us.

And then – I went for my daily ride along Indian River. The morning was still young. There was a very light rain that appeared on my windshield but was too light to disturb the mirror surface of the river. Hundreds of seagulls were perched on the long river docks, much, I imagine, to the chagrin of the owners. One lady was taking pictures of them. I stopped my car and saw several files of “ducks in a row” at varying distances in the river. All were paddling north.

And then – I saw them, three dolphins. Indian River is quite shallow, so I could see them intermittently breaking the water. They, too, were going north. I don’t know whether they were feeding or just playing, but I never tire of watching them just living their lives for all of us to enjoy.

The first time I saw mammals swimming in a river was when I was seven years old in 1954. My father drove my mother and me from Waterville to Bangor, their hometown, to see the two white whales that had swum to Bangor up the Penobscot River. We drove in my father’s 1948 Studebaker. There was no Interstate 95 highway then, so the trip took two hours up and two hours back. We could go no faster than 45 miles an hour because the car shook at faster speeds. Seeing the whales was quite a thrill. Seeing the dolphins brought back to me another cherished Maine memory.

As I left the River Road area, I stopped at a stop sign and saw perched on a tree limb a different but still beautiful lighter colored hawk. He was watching me as intently as Olivia and I had watched the earlier hawk.

And then – I left the serenity of the scenic river ride to go to a gas station to pump gas into my vehicle. The prices had dropped. Another Maine memory came to mind. Again, my father had driven my mother and me to Bangor to see the gas war.

“Norma,” I remember him saying. “Remember this day. Gas is 18 cents a gallon.” I watched as a man filled the gas tank. We turned around and left Bangor for the long two-hour ride home.

Today, I paid more for my gas than 18 cents a gallon, but who cares? I enjoyed a million-dollar morning and Maine memories.

THE BEST VIEW: Am I a literary snob?

by Norma Best Boucher

“Hello. My name is Norma. I am an English major and a literary snob.”

If there were such groups as Literary Snobs Anonymous, I would stand before their podium addressing my captured audience saying those exact words to my fellow literary snobs. Then, when they finally gave me the proverbial shepherd’s hook to drag me from my pulpit, I would confess my deepest, darkest truth: “I also love mysteries.”

As a high school English teacher, I basically had to prod gently my students to get their insights about the books I had assigned for them to read.

Today I belong to a book club. Some months I like the book. Some months I don’t like the book. Every month, though, I enjoy animated discussions with the very intelligent, very diverse and very assertive women in the group. They all have their own opinions and express them clearly, coherently, and, sometimes, even eloquently.

In my own defense I must explain that I was at the mercy of English teachers throughout my high school and college years. All required reading books were from the classics. I loved the classics.

As a teacher I also introduced my students to the classics. Some students may say that I tortured them with the classics, but I always assured them that the book titles, the characters and even the quoted texts would remain with them throughout their lives. Like it or not.

In my own everyday life, I am constantly reminded of classic book characters and their quotes. Whenever I see a man rubbing his hands together, I am reminded of Uriah Heep, the antagonist in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield.

Who can forget the revengeful phrase “One down” in Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo, or the quote “All for one and one for all” in Dumas’ The Three Musketeers?

Can we forget the characters and lessons learned from Silas in Silas Marner, Huck in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Jo March and her sisters in Little Women, or Jane Eyre and Cathy and Heathcliff from the two Bronte sisters? I think not.

Of course, there’s always Shakespeare’s famous quotes: “Take thee to a nunnery” from Hamlet to Ophelia, “Out damned spot” from Lady Macbeth, “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse” from Richard III, Hamlet’s Polonius’s “To thine own self be true,” and the unforgettable Julius Caesar’s dying recognition “Et Tu, Brute?”

I cannot be the only one who remembers and frankly relishes these great works of literature. Highfalutin they may be but unforgettable they remain, at least to me.

I knew a man for 50 years. We tolerated each other. I am sure that he never recognized one single word of wisdom I may have offered, and, to tell the truth, in those five decades I only gleaned one sentence of wisdom from him.

He was in his mid-70s at the time. Someone asked him to attend a function. He thought silently for a few moments and then literally thought out loud, “I don’t have that much time left to waste.”

I stored in my memory that tidbit of wisdom. Now, whenever I start reading a new book, I ask myself whether I am enjoying the book or whether by reading this particular book I am wasting precious time. Sometimes book and time decisions are made just like that.

My book tastes and time decisions may sometimes appear to be old-fashioned, but the modern day me is sitting right here right now writing this declaration or confession, if you will, wearing a newly-purchased tee shirt that reads, “That’s what I do. I read books, and I know things.”

Back to the original question, “Am I a literary snob?”

In Shakespeare’s words, “Egads!”

In my own words, “I hope so.”

THE BEST VIEW: The Journey (Observing National Breast Cancer Awareness Month)

by Norma Best Boucher

As I ask myself when this journey all began, I must start with my mother in the ‘60s when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had been an older mother when I was born, so I had the advantages of having a mother who was secure with herself.

I remember vividly when she had her mastectomy and radiation. I have never seen anyone with such courage and strength. She couldn’t afford a breast prosthesis, so she stuffed a cotton curtain into her bra and asked me, “Norma, am I even?” before going to work as a first presser at the Hathaway Shirt Company.

My father had told her, “Just live, Lillian.”

For us, who loved her, she lived.

I had made sure that I never took any medicines that might add to my risk of having breast cancer. I had taken every precaution I knew, so when at age 62 they told me that I might have breast cancer, it was a slap in the face.

A lumpectomy revealed an additional lump – now, two different kinds of breast cancer.

My son took the reins and made appointments at a Breast Cancer Center. Within a week’s time I was at the center. Further biopsies showed two additional growths.

My breast was a cancer factory.

After the initial shock of the diagnosis and with the help of the doctors, I realized that cancer was not necessarily a death sentence. Suddenly, I had options, decisions, and hope.

My husband and I went home to Maine to visit. Family members and friends who had survived cancer were the greatest inspiration for me. People I hadn’t seen in years called to tell me of their experiences and to encourage me.

I left Maine with the decision to go through with the mastectomy and with the courage to fight for my life.

Experiences with my mother, God, and the love of my husband and son got me through the operation.

I was overjoyed to learn that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes. In fact, I was told that I wouldn’t need chemotherapy. I went to the oncologist prepared to take a preventative medication for five years.

Further tests, however, showed that one of the cancers was an aggressive type. Chemo was now on the table. This decision was more difficult than deciding on the mastectomy.

This was a setback. I had already moved on with my life, and, suddenly, I was grabbed back into the world of cancer.

The question was, of which was I more afraid: the cancer or the chemo?

With the guidance of doctors, I opted for the chemo.

My husband and son took turns taking care of me. I exhausted them. They had put everything they had into saving me, and now I needed them even more.

The chemo treatments were worse than the operation. It was an intense three months, but my family never waived.

Each person’s experience with chemo is different. Suffice it to say, “I wouldn’t wish this on an enemy.”

I did the treatments. My hair fell out in clumps after the second week. I wore bandanas most of the time because my wig was so loose that it slipped to my nose when I tilted my head. Some days I just wanted to heave it across the room.

The first time I slept for days after the treatment, I was scared. The next treatments I prayed to sleep.

Every time I had a treatment, I swore I wouldn’t take another, but then I felt better and tried again.

Finally, they were over.

I survived. I am alive and cancer free.

When I look back on this experience, I laugh, and I cry. God, everyone’s prayers, and my family’s love got me through this.

I am truly blessed.

Sometimes, when I’m dressed and ready to leave for work, I take a long, hard look at myself in the mirror.

In my mind’s eye I see my mother, smiling at me.

I whisper, “Thank you,” to her and to God.

Then, I pull back my shoulders, smile right back at her, and ask, “Ma, am I even?”

Norma Best Boucher is a freelance contributor to The Town Line. A former Waterville native, she now lives in Florida.

THE BEST VIEW: “Good vibrations”

by Norma Best Boucher

We ran down the roadway to the Old Orchard Beach Ball Park. We were a little late because of the traffic, but that didn’t make any difference. His golden voice filled the air, and each perfect note sent a shiver through me.

That was the first and the last time I was to hear Roy Orbison, live. An hour of songs such as Oh, Pretty Woman and Crying was only the beginning. The next two hours were filled with Surfin’ USA, California Girls, and the Good Vibrations of the Beach Boys. This was definitely the best birthday present I’d ever received, and I was going to enjoy every note of it.

The outfield was mobbed with students of the ’60s. The crowd moved in time with the music producing a wave of bodies and minds, with dreamy-eyed adults reliving a memory and the children holding their hands and sitting on their shoulders, creating a memory.

Woodstock – Eat your heart out!

I wanted to move up closer to the stage, but my husband was convinced we’d never make it. He stayed behind while I pushed my way through the crowd with a plastered smile on my face and an “Excuse me” every two or three feet. To say I’m not easily deterred is an understatement.

Twice in the ’60s, while still a college student, I took five hours to push through a crowd of 100,000 screaming college students in the infield of Kentucky Downs and managed to see the favorites, Kauai King and Proud Clarion, race through the finish line to win the Kentucky Derby. I hadn’t even placed a bet. I would do no less for the Beach Boys.

They were older, and so was I, but their timeless music took me back to an era when the words “age” and “worry” were not in my vocabulary. After a few songs, I, too, was dreamy-eyed. Then the loudness of the music hurt my ears and stomach, and soon I was singing, dancing, and waving my arms with wild abandon.

Oh – youth!

My husband, usually the dancer of us two, sat in a bleacher seat with his feet up and just enjoyed. I could see him in the distance, smiling, reliving a time only he could know. A five-year-old boy, standing on a seat a short distance away from him, gyrated to the music. Totally self-absorbed, my husband and the boy neither knew nor cared that the other existed.

Sometimes, when I’m alone in my car, I play my CDs, and Roy Orbison and the Beach Boys take me back to that concert and to the ’60s when age and worry didn’t exist and when music and life could be described with “I like it…It has a good beat.”