Dangling Under the Full Moon

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by Helen Baldwin |

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yo-yoing | SMA News Today | main graphic for column titled "We're Not in Kansas Anymore," by Helen Baldwin, depicting a blue wave offset by green nature scenes

Parents, teachers, and pet owners routinely witness the unmistakable impact of full moons on all realms of behavior.

Insert wolf howl.

As a rapidly aging adult, I can vouch for this monthly phenomenon’s continued ability to “scramble the circuits” in every capacity. For some bizarre, unknown reason this month, “Shine On Harvest Moon” invaded my head and refuses to budge. HELP.

June’s full moon, the first of summer and the last supermoon of the year, strutted its stuff last Thursday.

My grocery trip to Walmart early that morning took an eventful twist. A large jar of spaghetti sauce fell out of the cart, shattering and scattering all over — in a main aisle, of course. At first glance, the copious amount of sauce on my white shoe resembled blood, raising more than a few eyebrows of curious fellow shoppers. One of the two store associates who quickly came to my rescue voluntarily retrieved another jar and put it in my cart as I reached the produce department. Surely I couldn’t break anything there.

Surviving the store trip, I rushed home, unloaded the groceries, and drove up to our rental cabin after our guest checked out. I gathered three bags of laundry and returned to our house to fire up the washer.

I forgot I’d already filled the washer with personal items, so I proceeded with that load. The 13-year-old washer bellowed when it came time to spin. I knew it meant I needed to hold the uneven old girl down for a few minutes, but she was balking unusually mightily this time. The vociferous CLUNK when the spin cycle ended was new, too. I feared our time together was drawing to a close.

The next load’s spin cycle was a bit tamer. Each load after that was calmer than the previous one, until it quietly just stopped.

Our washer was history. Miraculously (especially during a full moon), all the cabin laundry was washed.


The full moon, which tends to last a month around here, was in force with the birth of our baby Jeffrey in 1997. With a due date of June 1, he jumped the gun on May 18, four days before the official full moon that month. We happily took the gift of his early arrival.

As June’s full moon hit that year, all but a sliver of my thyroid was removed. My mother-in-law visited for two weeks.

In July, mere days after Jeffrey was diagnosed with SMA, our firstborn, Matthew, complained of excruciating abdominal pain. The emergency room doctor said it was an allergy. I didn’t know you could have an allergy to stress, but it was a full moon.

August’s full moon brought slightly increased movements and a louder cry from our little guy. The celebration was short-lived, however. After two doctors’ appointments for Jeffrey, down the mountain on a miserably steamy day jam-packed with myriad obligations, a hopelessly dead car battery dampened the optimism.

Three days before September’s full moon, Jeffrey’s gurgles warranted breaking out the suction machine. The hysterical rattling in the machine was so deafening, I turned it on and held the phone up close so the representative could tell I wasn’t joking. When the replacement machine arrived, I sobbed throughout the entire suctioning. I was thankful for the practice I’d had with one of my own students at Brockman School several years before, but I wasn’t sufficiently braced to do it on my own baby.

With the middle of October came a beautiful “big” moon and a more intense yo-yo effect regarding Jeffrey’s well-being. After a nightmarish visit to a pulmonologist that would have befitted a full moon or two, our little guy vacillated between resting and agitated states with the blink of an eye. Hospice was summoned, and soon morphine was needed to keep him comfortable in my lap.

Jeffrey was gone before November’s full moon.


While looking for a replacement washer during this month’s full moon, I somehow misplaced my debit card. I knew I had used it at the Aldi grocery store down the mountain, so I called to see if by chance anyone had turned it in. Aldi’s phone numbers are unlisted “to keep costs down,” but I could email. Figuring it would take weeks to get a response, I sent a report.

In 10 minutes, the phone rang. It was an Aldi representative, reporting that they’d checked with the store I’d visited. I was in awe, not that the card hadn’t been turned in, but that I had barely finished sending the email.

Still in amazement, I started picking up bags of various items I’d brought back from the cabin after cleaning it. Peeking inside one bag, I spied the missing debit card that had apparently fallen in.

Shine on, full moon, harvest and otherwise.


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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