Oh, boy. Please, 2022, be better than (at least the last part of) 2021.
I’m looking back over the past month or so and thinking that if I tried to write it as a story, any decent editor would reject it as far too improbable.
Here’s a (not so) quick timeline:
- November 25 • We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with the family. Other than missing our oldest, Elizabeth, who lives in San Diego, it was pretty perfect.
- November 27 • After a strange phone call with my mother, my sister calls me and I rush over to my mom’s house, to find that she’s apparently had a stroke during the night and cannot walk. We get her to the Emergency Room as quickly as we can, and, as the day goes on, it becomes apparent that she has, indeed, had a stroke. My sister stays with her the first night in the hospital, as Jim and I have church responsibilities the following day.
- November 28 • My birthday, which I hardly noticed. I moved into Mom’s hospital room and slept on a cot in her room, as I didn’t want her to be alone.
- November 30 • I woke up in the middle of the night with horrific stomach cramps. back pain, and nausea. I laid in bed for about an hour before I gave up and rang the nurses’ station for help. They promptly put me in a wheelchair and got me to Emergency, where I was diagnosed with a kidney stone. After I got some meds I felt better, but my sister urged me to go home and rest. While she was in the hospital, we began to realize that she was no longer going to be able to live alone and started to make plans to move into her home to care for her. Who has a kidney stone while staying with their mother in the hospital?
- December 2 • (ish) Mother was released to a rehab hospital, with a release date of December 21, which gave us a mere three weeks to organize and execute a move. Because of the holiday season and lack of notice, the move has to be in two stages. I was hoping to have it completed before Mom came home, so she wouldn’t have to live in chaos. But, nope.
- December 10 • Watching the weather, the warnings were ominous. Late in the afternoon/early evening I got a text from my nephew, who said he and his parents (my sister & brother-in-law) were headed to Mom’s house to get into her inside closet for shelter. Jim and I, with about 30 minutes notice on the coming storms, decided we would go to Mom’s as well. The one downside of open concept homes is the lack of interior rooms and both ours and my sister’s homes lacked a tornado-safe room. That’s how five adults and three dogs ended up in my mom’s toy closet for hours.
- December 23 • Moving Day, Phase One. We had a busy day. Elizabeth had arrived from San Diego and we had our traditional family Festivus meal of catfish. Mother had trouble getting to sleep, and we realized she was having a lot of trouble breathing.
- December 24 • We took Mom to the hospital at 2:00 a.m. due to her labored breathing and they admitted her for pneumonia. When they got us into a room, it was 5:00 a.m. and all I could think about was crashing on the cot in her room. I woke up at 10:00 a.m. to her doctor making rounds.
- December 25 • Christmas Day but not really Christmas Day because Mom was still in the hospital.
- December 26 • We realized that the upstairs HVAC unit was a goner. Thankfully they were able to replace it quickly.
- December 30 • I wake up with inexplicable pain in my knee as well as stomach cramps that were much milder, but not unlike those that accompanied the kidney stone.
Today we’ll celebrate the end of 2021 with the family. We’ll all be in comfy clothes with no makeup and really won’t care a lick about anything except being together and the fact that it’s another holiday without Mother.
I could draw all sorts of conclusions from this saga. If I believed in karma, I could certainly go there and begin to wonder what horrible things I might have done to create this mess.
The only thing I can say is that it’s just life. Life is challenging sometimes, and it’s always unpredictable. It is stressful to be sure, but we don’t face it alone. I’ve tried during this time to look forward to the time when we’re all settled in, Mom is home and we have time to adjust to our new normal. As I write this, I’m sitting here with an ice pack on my knee, which is helping, so all is not lost.
In the meantime, I will focus on gratitude. I’m grateful for:
- Our move to Jonesboro two years ago. Not only is Jim enjoying his new career in real estate, we are thankful we’re in a position to care for Mother so that she can stay in her beloved home.
- My girls’ time with their grandmother during these trying moments. When Elizabeth arrived home after two years without seeing her due to Covid, Mom was asleep in her chair. Elizabeth crept over to her and sat on her lap with her arms around Mom’s shoulders. I wish I’d videoed it. When Mom woke up, the look on her face was pure joy. What a moment.
- My supportive family, all of whom have Mom’s best interests at heart and try to do what’s best for her.
- A sister, brother-in-law, and father-in-law who are physicians and can interpret the complicated medical jargon for us.
- Our church and community, who have been so gracious and generous with their prayers, concern, and genuine caring.