A New Year Has Just Begun


I received a darling picture of my oldest granddaughter yesterday. She was all dressed in her 1st day of pre-school finery. Sitting on the stoop of her house, she carried the weight of her most prized possession, a striped hot pink backpack strung over her shoulders. In a sense, a new year has just begun.

My husband called while on the road to say our youngest son had put his beloved home for sale. He and his family of five including my Babies of Two are moving to a new state because of his job. Perhaps their present home has been a stepping stone to where they are meant to be? I’m praying for my son and daughter-in-law to find a new home that they love. A home to raise their babies in for a long, long while. A house that one day, the kids may even begin to skip off to school.

In talking to my father, he told me the doctors found another large lump on the back of his wife’s neck. They had already done another MRI and would be coming back to discuss treatment. She can’t even get out of bed. I spoke to my father, asking him if I could be ‘honest’ with him.

“Yes, of course, always,” he answered.

I went on to tell him of my good friend, and excellent internist who began a terrific Hospice House here in St. Louis in order to focus on palliative care. My father had met my friend in the past and knew he was a good man.

Finally, my father hesitated before speaking. “I’ve been thinking and I don’t want to put her through anything more. I just want to take her home to the house she loves. I want her to look at the desert stars before she falls asleep and for her to see the sun rise above the mountains in the morning.”

With those words, my father cried. Before I even spoke to him, he had already begun to accept the idea of hospice and was preparing himself to let her go… Today he hopes to take her home where they will simply love each other until death they do part. Tomorrow is their four-month wedding anniversary.

There are still two more weeks before I finally move into my own new house. Yes, I know, it has seemed forever…..My goal was to find something close to my son and daughter-in-law who are expecting their third baby around Christmas. At the same time, I wanted to be near nature if possible, have room for an office, and a sleeping area for visiting grand-babies.

Well, my husband and I feel very fortunate as we enter this last stage of our lives. Our new home is only a short distance from family, and although smaller and very different on the inside, it looks very much like the outside of our current house. We plan to use the formal dining room as an office where I’ll soon write from my half-moon desk in a windowed turret just as I’ve done for many years.

Next to our bedroom is a small space that will be used for the grandchildren’s sleeping room. Bunk beds and a white spindled crib will soon be rolled in beneath a breezy fan. The closet is already stacked with shelves to fill toys and puzzles soon to be spilled upon the wooden floor.

On the back of the house is a full length screened porch where painted wicker furniture awaits future family gatherings. A round glass table will be set with plates for summer BBQ or early evening board games. Nearby, a chair teeters back and forth. In the spring, I’ll rock the next bundled baby close to my beating heart.

As mentioned above, my husband and I feel very fortunate. Our new house is in subdivision encompassing a dedicated nature preserve. The view from the back of our house is tall trees where a walking path winds over a small stream and through the thick of overgrown wildflowers. A few minutes to the left are trails surrounding a 15-acre lake stocked with fish for catch and release. No boats are allowed, only wildlife and the stillness of peace.

I’ve missed the whole of summer which feels like the whole of a year. Family issues have been filled with stress, but in the end, life begins anew. God has parted a curtain. The previews have finished with the main feature now in full play. And, although I don’t know the ending, I’m certainly looking forward to living again.

Yes, in a sense a new year has just begun.

What Could Be Pretty About Cancer?


I’d like to write about something inspirational, to focus on nature, something pretty in life or something hopeful. Instead, my mind is filled with sadness, anxiety, and despair. I suppose the same three words could easily be summed up into one: cancer.  What could be pretty about cancer?

Soon after my father married at the end of this past March his bride was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Together, they’ve been fighting the disease ever since with every ounce of strength imaginable.

I feel so very helpless because I am here in St. Louis while my father and his wife are living in Arizona. I can’t be there to hold his hand, run an errand, cook a meal or simply sit with him at the hospital. When he calls, his voice invariably cracks during his last few words. He struggles not to show his emotion, yet it is there, just beneath the surface. In my mind, there are tears in his eyes and I hear a choking sound in the back of his throat. My heart aches for my father.

Although not my decision, perhaps my father’s wife should have been in hospice for the last several weeks? There, she might have been more comfortable, able to hear her favorite music while visiting with her daughter and grandchildren? Yet, doctors and oncologists are willing to provide every treatment possible to prolong the inevitable end of life, especially when the patient has been sold on the slightest chance of more time.

More time for WHAT? More time for hair to fall out from chemotherapy treatments. More time to buy a wig. More time for a person’s skin to redden and dry from the effects of radiation. More time to lose the senses of taste and hearing. More time to wither away to skin and bones. More time to vomit and writhe in pain. More time to slowly die…..

If my father’s wife was a loved one to any of member of the team of doctors treating her, a wife, sister or mother, would the protocol of treatment have been the same?

Cancer…the only thing pretty about it is the love that has brought my father and his wife closer. For that I am thankful.

 

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