Monday, May 24, 2010

Brain Spasms

Once again, I will prove to myself that I write to relieve stress. My lab work came back today from part of my pre-certification physical, and I have a staff infection that has to be cleared up before the surgeon will touch me. I guess that the lab work is a blessing in disguise as I am feeling fine. All other tests were perfect, and ten days of antibiotics later, surgery will proceed as scheduled unless the doctor changes his mind. By that time, I may change mine. I owe this to all of the information that is given to unsuspecting patients, so our decision will be a truly informed one.

I sat in three different settings today with people who actually looked like they needed a knee replacement. Two older gentlemen were limping and using canes to get around. Two older ladies were using walkers to move, and one woman was in a wheel chair. As the last session ended, one of the wives expressed concerns about being the care giver once her husband was home. I reassured her with my life experiences with my husband, and reminded the husband to take the pain pills as directed. Joint surgery was no time to prove how macho he was.

To be quite honest, I don't remember being very good at the care giver job, but my better half is still alive, so I must have done something right. I do recall the emergency room visit with a blood clot, and waiting out the IV cocktail to stop a clot from moving. That scared me, and that is probably why I remember it. Pain management also rings a bell because it was so drastic. I doubt that my experience will entail the same details.

We were all assured that we would be in lala land for about 24 hours after our surgeries. That part sounded fine to me. I am still of the mindset "the less I know the better." I tend to worry and what if information to death. I do have faith in my surgeon. He designed the computer technology that is going to reshape my bones for the implant. As I thought about it, I laughed at the fact that I had never intended to have metal implants. Maybe saline, but not metal. I thought about how travel would change with the security, and vowed to carry my card at all times. First thoughts tended to go the negative, and then I just stopped myself.

I have been in so much pain for so long, and hopefully this will give me the relief I desperately need. I was shell shocked because of all of the complications my husband suffered, and this skewed my thinking concerning what is best for me. Once I separated the emotion from the facts, I was ok in my decisions concerning my health. I remind myself that my husband is so much better now than he was before, and that same triumph can be mine as well. I just hope my surgery goes as planned and there are no serious complication. That's where my faith in God comes in. I pray and ask for divine guidance for everyone who will be handling me. God handles the big and little details of my life, and for that, I am truly thankful. Yep, I feel better now.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Life was in exceptional stride this weekend. My older son received his Masters degree in Business from the University of Houston, Clear Lake on Sunday. My mom was able to attend this ceremony along with my son's in laws. The weekend was filled with happy moments and lots of them. A lost friend of two years called over this same weekend, and Sunday evening we reconnected and caught up with each other. We have moved twice in these two years, and she has finally downsized in lieu of the retirement years ahead.

My friend has three sons. Her oldest just received his PhD from Texas A&M and is entertaining the idea of marriage. He is a fine young man. Her middle son is a Captain in the Army and a graduate of West Point. He deploys for a year in Afghanistan and is one of America's finest as well. Her youngest, close in age to my younger son, is still finding himself and will get there eventually. He's one of those truly kind young men. All three lost their dad in the formative teenage years. We were there to bury, hug, and comfort my friend and her kids. I know that their dad looks from Heaven with pride at his sons.

During our conversation, I was reminded that our last contact had been when the daughters-in-law were both pregnant. The grand girls are now 16 and 19 months old. Two years have passed with the joys of childbirth, the scare of cancer, and finally the triumph over cancer. These two years have fast forwarded us once again.

I also told her about our latest investment, a pecan grove close to my hometown. I reminded her about my husband's need to always be growing something, and how I had finally resigned myself to this fact. Trees and all kinds of them are definitely in the future for us. She was excited about this door being opened for us, while she explained about closing a door from her life. A property from her husband's family has been sold, and as she explained it, her past life is now behind her. She remarried about five years after her husband passed away, and he is a good man who really took on the job of raising her boys. For that she is very thankful.

Just as I was smiling in my heart, I was reminded that I had also heard from my sweet aunt. She does in fact have breast cancer again, and will be fighting for her life. I have no doubt that she will fight the good fight. I realized that not all milestones are good ones. My mom and sister leave this week for a visit with her, and it will be good for the sisters to see each other. My mom is getting frail, and won't be able to stay and help her through this trial in life. My aunt's daughters are both in the position to be there twenty-four seven until this is behind her. That has helped relieve the emotional burden for my mom.

My life is plugging along as planned, and hub and I adjust reluctantly to whatever life throws at us. I am thankful in all circumstances. I am thankful for family and all of its challenges and triumphs, and I am thankful for friends who help me keep my life in perspective. We connect and rejoice at the joys of life, and we comfort one another during its trials. My closest friends are also my Christian sisters, and because of this our connections just seem to feel differently. We always say good-bye with promises of visits and prayers. The visits are always occasional, but the prayers are always there between us. I don't now what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that today brings life and friendship and love, and I am blessed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ten Years Is a Long Time

I cried myself silly while reading another blogger's tribute to her father. A social friend from years back, the man honored passed away tragically in a jet crash after taking off from one of the Houston airports. The sweet blogger was my older son's first crush in middle school, and a favorite of all who knew her and her family. The kids went to church, Sunday school, church camps, school camps, and public schools together. I worked for her grandfather before I had my younger son. Her story was one of triumph and hope for the future. This generation of kids from one of my many hometowns is truly a blessing through the social connections of Facebook.

I started thinking about the journeys we all take day in and day out, and before we know it a decade has passed. I probably have one really good decade left on this earth, and I intend to make the best of it. My sons, who are ten years apart in age, have blessed me with grandchildren these last three years, and my world has taken on the perspective of being a granny. My husband is fighting the grandparent idea tooth and nail, and actually takes offense at the fact that I have a baby carrier in my back seat. For some reason it doesn't bother me a bit. In fact, I take pride in the fact that I have lived long enough to see my grands be born. I never understood the complete joy my mom always seemed to have when the grand kids were in her charge. As a great grand, her enthusiasm is starting to fail as age makes her patience shorter, but I see more smiles, concerning yet another generation, than frowns. I too, find that I smile most of the time I am with my grands.

It's like getting a second chance at just loving life and the blessings of childhood. When I raised my sons, I was always in the middle of life and its challenges: a job, transfers, compromises to keep peace in my world. I know I experienced the joys of raising my children, but life happened so fast that I find myself still wondering where yesteryear went. It was just there a minute ago.

When I get to spend time with my grands I get to reflect about their fathers and how they were at that age. The similar personalities and curiosities are truly fun to behold, and I admit it. I enjoy seeing a little of myself in this new generation. Most importantly, I enjoy the idea of the future, and what tomorrow can bring to these precious possessions. I also get to dance when I want, and I get to be smothered in kisses and hugs. Yes, the future does look bright, and before I know it, another ten years will have come and gone. I am realistic enough to know that there will be tears along the way, but in my heart there will also be triumphs, and that is what I will choose to remember.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Time Shifts and Sifts

Just when life seems to be cycling back, and breathing returns to normal, new challenges present themselves to us all. After wonderful times with loved ones, and memories that many never get to experience, the roller coaster we know as life deals us one more hard blow. It is no wonder that so many people seek professional counsel, and psychiatric chairs are full. Gone are the days of extended families and idle times over kitchen counters. Gone are the routine matters, discussed and elaborated until some decision or direction or peace about the subject is reached. Gone is the free counsel of wise sages. Makes me sad sometimes, and sometimes I wonder just how we got this way. I really need wise counsel with life's latest punch.

A lovely relative has just been informed that there is another mass in her breast. I pray that it is scar tissue or enlarged lymph nodes from an infection, but in my heart I know that once again, someone I love will have to fight the war against cancer. It takes my breath away. I haven't been able to call and took the coward's way out with a card and message of hope. She's my favorite aunt and is probably the real reason I am the way I am today.

This sweet aunt confessed to me about two years ago that she hated me from my conception. She was used to being the baby in the family, and the thought of having to compete with a new baby was not her idea of justice. As her sister's pregnancy progressed and a new mother's attentions were multiplied, her irritation with me increased. A few months later I was born, a fifteen year old aunt held me for the first time, and her teenager's heart melted. Aunt took another look at life, and learned early on that blessings sometimes appear in the form of squirming, crying, demanding little babies. She didn't care because she experienced her first taste of true love at that very moment. All of a sudden, she loved someone more than she loved herself. My birth was a catalyst for her life and how she would choose to live it.

While in college she became the giver of gifts to me and my siblings. I have no idea how she saved enough money to always, always be able to provide the special treats and presents of childhood. My first pony ride in the city was one of her treats. I begged her to just leave me there while she and my mom shopped. Vacations and outings were her norm. Activities were carefully orchestrated to include me and one or two of my brothers and sisters. Aunt was careful to show us that life wasn't limited to circumstances, and what a gift that has been. Her boyfriends became our boyfriends, and as she tells it, we chaperoned many a date night. She married her college sweetheart, moved to New York, and began a life of her own.

As years passed, Aunt would remind us to do our best and reward our efforts long distance. Many letters were exchanged, and I have feeling that in some box somewhere is every letter that was ever sent to her from her nieces and nephews. I suspect this because I also discovered just this year that my aunt keeps her calendars. Some people keep journals, or write down their life stories, but aunt keeps her calendars and has recorded important events for most of her life. These time lines of life become reference materials when we relive our past experiences. Years are quickly reviewed as subjects or events come up, and we are reminded that the intersections of our lives have been carefully recorded. At seventy five and sixty, we both look back and wonder how life passed so quickly. On the last day of this past visit, I saw a journal in an art store. It was painted by some clever person with a pencil and paper and eraser on it. When I saw it, I was immediately reminded that my aunt writes events in pencil on her calendars, just in case she makes a mistake. I left this journal as a parting gift. I left instructions for her to journal her life and its events and, of course, leave it to me.

Sometimes an individual reaches out and touches lives in ways that aren't fully appreciated until circumstances initiate the memories. My last visit with this wonderful lady made me realize that I had unwittingly started as her competition, melted her heart, and became a knew found love. As the years have shown me, we have traveled through so many stages of life together. We will always be aunt and niece, but now we can add friends the list. We have laughed and cried and argued. We have encouraged and helped and loved each other. Most of all, we had fun. I was the topic of conversation for her for so many years, and now she is mine. I pray that I will have the pure stamina it will take to be there for her as she fights, once again, her battle against cancer. Please journal, Aunt, and remember ten good times for every hard time to come. I look forward to reading this private collection of life through your eyes and heart.