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Only Seven Days

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Hard to believe New Year’s Eve was only seven days ago.  Sure felt like such a long week. Going back to work.  Packing up holiday decorations. Tossing out the eggnog and leftover turkey.

Seven days ago we were still enjoying my daughter’s visit, although she planned to celebrate that night with her Florida friends before flying home on New Year’s Day.  All made it home safely, by the way.

Like a sip of champagne, the holidays quickly bubbled away and we all went back to our pre-holiday, routine lives.

Lucky us.

Fourteen days ago on Christmas Eve, a family my family knows received heart-stopping news about their 19-year-old son .  As they rushed to the hospital, they found out that he was still alive, but the prognosis was grim.  The young man–still in a coma–did not improve.  I don’t know how his mother found the strength to breathe, to eat, to somehow convince herself that this nightmare was unfolding in real time.

Now only seven days into the New Year, this family is saying goodbye to a beloved son.

Their holidays will be wreathed in heartache, perhaps forever.  No Happy New Year, no Merry Christmas.

So on this seventh night of the new year, all I can do is pray for them.

 

 

 

Milestone Year Ahead

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This is a milestone year for our class of 1974.  We hit the big 6-0 in 2016.  Hard to believe, but true.  Most days I feel pretty young, but the mirror tells a different tale.

Then I think of our classmates who didn’t even make 50 or even 30.  My best friend would have been 60 today had she lived.

Sixty’s not 16, but’s it’s still good.  I may not pop out of bed so quickly, but I am still rarin’ to go.

Vegethon

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Never thought I would be whipping up a batch of roasted veggies for my company’s Thanksgiving lunch.

No, I haven’t gone vegetarian since Christmas past.  But these days I cook breakfast and dinner five or six nights a week (if I cook seven days straight, you can bet that the End Times are nigh).  Cooking is not a pleasurable experience for me.  But having my husband around is.  That’s why I’m learning how to make kidney-friendly meals to help keep him alive.

I used to joke that my cooking would probably kill him.  Now I’m trying to save him with it.

Renal diets are horribly limited, as my cheese-loving husband and I discovered. I found a recipe for “mac and cheese,” which proved to be a most vile concoction  even when prepared correctly. Gag!  Everything else was tasteless–white bread, white rice, etc.

Fortunately, I discovered the good folks at Penzey’s Spices and the tasty recipes of  “Big, Bold Flavor” Chef Aaron McCargo Jr.  And my husband discovered vegetables from the low-potassium spectrum.

It’s almost nine and the delicious aroma of curry fills the whole house.  I started late on this slow-cooking project.  The reason:  I didn’t have enough cooking chutzpah to pull off dinner and veggies for a crowd.  So we had (forbidden) home cooking at Cracker Barrel.

That’s my confession, and I’m sticking to it.

 

Three Years on a Roller Coaster

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We’d been married five years and two months when it happened–my husband’s hastily scheduled surgery and the devastating news that he had cancer. The surgeon said he couldn’t get it all the first time. A second surgery was scheduled in a month’s time. Infections followed, the first of many. By October we were seeing another doctor who said the cancer had advanced and the only alternative was radical, life-altering surgery. That happened in December.
We made the first of many runs to a hospital ER on New Year’s Eve. A lot of 2013 is a blur–so many hospitalizations for a week at a time–for infections that almost destroyed his kidneys. Stent replacements came every few months. Sometimes the stents blocked and I’d try to clear them with IV “butterflies” and saline flushes. It worked most of the time. When it didn’t, it was back to the hospital for a week.
We feel pretty good about 2014–only two hospital stays. And we made it all the way to May 2015 before making the ER run again for yet another infection.
Difficult as these up and down months have been, we are happy, as odd as that may seem. Holding on for dear life, we are holding tight to each other. Our old life is gone, so we are redefining normal.
I said goodbye to the old me somewhere along the way. There’s a much better woman in my place. My amazing husband–who gets up and goes to work like any other man–deserves no less.

Fashion Flashback

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Today’s project:  Sorting through the vintage (uh, mid-century) totes in the garage.  Time for Pandora on the iPhone, streaming tunes from the 60s and 70s.

On the left, my beloved Beatles sweatshirt from 1964.  I should have worn it to the concert in Jacksonville, my one and only chance DSCN0757[1]to see the Beatles ever.  Mama didn’t let me go.  I was eight years old and heartbroken.

Another 17 years passed before I attended my first concert.  The Stones came to Dallas in 1981. Rained so hard I thought Mick Jagger would float off the stage.  I wore an basic black Hefty bag during the deluge.

What’s important to note is the size of both shirts.  Tiny.  That’s something I’m not now.

Let me post something else tiny.  That’s a size 5 bathing suit.  I wore it the day I turned 42.  Wish I had a picture of myself that day on my friend’s boat.

I didn’t snap photos of my 1980s maternity dresses (with post-baby belts) or my bountiful collection of figure skating fan T-shirts.  They’re gone now, but my Spiro T. Agnew shirt is still safety tucked away for posterity.  Better leave a note explaining who he was, though.

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A Life On Paper

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If I had to pick a word to describe my life tonight, it would be “paper.”  I filled six contractor-size Hefty bags full of it today and hauled them to the dump.  That brings the total so far to nine bags.  And I’m not done going through the Rubbermaid totes yet.

Why so much paper?  Most of my life I created paper–writing and/or editing magazines, newspapers, brochures and the like.  I kept everything I wrote after college, including scripts for video and internet projects.  Seeing all that paper in various states of decay made me cry.  Newsprint does not age gracefully.

I’d stashed away contest entries (Award of Excellence!  Award of Merit!), kind letters from magazine readers and congratulations from my boss.  Sorting through old 1980s head shots of myself, business cards and junk from my desk drawers, I had to chuckle.

Amid the professional clutter I found sweet little drawings from my son.   He was four when his sister was born–right after I’d put the quarterly university mag to bed and finished editing a half-hour video for the local PBS affiliate.  Two kids now, more paper, more totes.

Eight years ago I moved into this house.  I parked my past, a dozen totes worth, in the garage.  I became a bride again at 50 and the years sped by.

We now have memories of our own to cherish.  I’ve finally created a life for myself, something sadly lacking in my writer days.  My story is better than any I ever told.

That’s why I can toss the faded ink on yellow paper and move on.  It’s 2015.

Holding Onto The Holidays

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It’s January 2 and I should have sent the season packing by now.  But there’s eggnog in my coffee and cranberry orange relish on my English muffin this morning.  Last chance for holiday bliss!

Today is Friday but I have to go to work.  It’s hard to leave the family.  It’s also hard to leave my twinkling Christmas tree, now part of the living room for 32 days.

Tomorrow morning my daughter flies home to the frigid midwest.  When I come home from the airport, the holiday magic will be gone, too.  Time to box up the decorations and drag the tree to the curb.  I may need something stronger than eggnog in my coffee to ward off the post-holiday blues.