“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” —Henry David Thoreau
My mother, Marie Ann Rogers, took her last van ride to the Dana Farber Cancer Center at the end of February last year. Allen, the driver that day, waited patiently while she received a blood platelet transfusion. We were the last patients on the floor. The Covid-19 pandemic was underway in Europe, and the doctors and staff were preparing for pandemonium.
My mother had taught first grade for 28 years at Provincetown’s Veterans Memorial Elementary School. She and my father divorced when I was six, and she navigated life as a single mother on a teacher’s salary and pension. She earned a master’s degree in education and cleaned houses to supplement her income.
At the doctor’s that day, we learned that my mother had about two months to live. Her acute leukemia left few treatment options except to ride the waves of her journey. This last ride to Boston was provided by Helping Our Women (HOW), the exceptional nonprofit that serves low-income women with chronic health issues on the Outer Cape at the most vulnerable times of their lives.
I was inspired by Caitlin Townsend, the young Truro woman who recently walked the National Seashore from Eastham to Provincetown, following Thoreau’s example, to raise awareness of ocean conservation. After my mother’s death in May, I discovered the healing power of Mother Nature’s womb — I became a surfer at age 42.
My mother’s birthday is March 20, the first day of spring. I will honor her by walking the shoreline over the course of three days. My childhood best friend, Dawn Snow, will join me on the final leg from Truro to Provincetown, meeting Thoreau’s “eternity in each moment.”
Because of the pandemic, our family has yet to host a funeral and burial service. I’m hoping that this trek inspires those who knew Ann Rogers to donate any amount to HOW in her memory. This first spring day is a perfect time to plant a seed of support for women in our community who need help to live with dignity, independence, and self-reliance — the way she conducted her life journey.
Kimberly Rogers lives in Cambridge and Eastham. Donations to HOW may be made at helpingourwomen.org.