Musings of a Matriarch: When my ankle aches, there’s rain comin’

Sharon Kennedy

I never dreamed I’d utter the same words my grandmother used to say when the sky clouded up and threatened rain. Her arthritis caused her hands to ache and she knew a downpour wasn’t far off. Of course, I didn’t believe her. In my young mind nobody could predict the weather by the pain in their bones. Whoever heard of such a silly thing?

Well, fast forward 60 years and you know perfectly well who. The writer of this musing, that’s who. In 1998 I broke my ankle in two places. I didn’t cry until I saw the X-rays. My poor little bones were dangling by a thread. The doctor took one look and said he would pin and plate them.

When I told him I didn’t have health insurance, he never missed a beat. He said a cast would be just the ticket. He wrapped and plastered and sent me home telling me to keep off my feet for six weeks.

I spent all those weeks on my back. I hired someone to cut the grass. I asked another Avon lady to deliver my orders. A friend brought groceries and washed our clothes. My daughter acted as nursemaid. My buddy, Roger Pilon, planted the oak seedlings I ordered a few weeks prior to my fall. Everyone was kind.

When the doctor sawed off that cast and replaced it with another, I hobbled around on crutches. When that cast came off, I wore a gigantic boot for six weeks and continued to use the crutches. Finally after almost three months, I felt normal again, or at least as normal as I ever feel.

People asked me how I endured the itch when I was wearing the cast. I told them there was no itch. The whole process was fairly painless. I took a tumble in July and it wasn’t until March that the bones gave way. When I fell in the summer, I heard two clicks but as there was no pain, I didn’t pay much attention to the sound. However, when I tripped coming out of the garage, I knew I wasn’t getting up without help. My daughter called a neighbor and he got me upright and drove me to the emergency room. Thankfully, there wasn’t much to me in those days so there was no need for the aid of a Sherman tank.

It took at least a decade for my ankle to predict the weather. Maybe some bones are smarter than others, I don’t know, but my bones didn’t wise up for at least ten years. Even then it didn’t occur to me that the ache in my ankle meant rain. I didn’t immediately connect the two until a few years ago so I guess I’m just as dumb as my bones.

Last week the sky opened up and rain poured down in buckets. By 8:00 a.m. my back yard had a number of little ponds, my front yard looked like a small lake, and my leaky garage was about to float away. As for my ankle, it did what mended, arthritic ankles are supposed to. It ached. It throbbed. It caused me discomfort and it did all this long before even one tiny drop of rain fell.

So there you have it. What was bizarre and foreign to me as a child has now become common place. Some of you probably know what I mean. If you predict the weather by the ache in your bones, your grandchildren might think you are losing your marbles. I can only imagine the look of surprise on a child’s face when rain falls on cue. It’s nice to know our bones only let us down when they break. Otherwise, they’re often more accurate than Karl Bohnak when they predict what’s going to fall from the sky.

The summer I was 17 I worked at a restaurant just this side of the Lower Tahquamenon Falls. The Bunny Bread man fell “in love” with me. Don’t ask me why, but he thought I was the cat’s meow. He was from Newberry and was a few years up on me. His name was Pat and I think he attended NMU. His plan was to get engaged, wait another year until I graduated high school, then get married. In my mind, the plan was so full of holes it was more like a sieve than a well-thought out strategy. I had no more affection for him than I did for the weather. When school started and I ignored his letters, he sent me a postcard saying “Time Wounds All Heels.” I guess I broke his heart, but he made a full recovery and married someone else.

According to a Facebook post I read a year or two ago, Pat died. Time never did “wound” me, but it sure played havoc with my ankle. Just thinking about all that rain Pat is sending from heaven brings a throb to my mended bones. I’m well aware he’s not responsible for my pain, but you know how it is. We have to blame someone for our discomfort.

Pat called me a “heel” because I didn’t return his admiration. At the time I questioned the strength of his “love.” I guess it evaporated faster than the puddles in my yard. Broken bones are excellent weather predictors, but nobody comprehends matters of a romantic heart.

Editor’s note: Sharon M. Kennedy of Brimley is a humorist who infuses her musings with a hardy dose of matriarchal common sense. She writes about everyday experiences most of us have encountered at one time or another on our journey through life. Her articles are a combination of present day observations and nostalgic glances of the past. She can be reached via email at In addition, Sharon has compiled a collection of stories from her various newspaper columns. The title of her book is “Life in a Tin Can.” Copies are available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle format.