Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Tale of Two Summers

YAY! Summer! Not. Summer is far and away my least favorite season, but this one promised Pure Promise: a new(ish) house, a trip to Jamaica, a trip to California, and TWO visits from our cadet! What could be better? Well, as it happens...

Good Summer: A new house! Well, new to us. Definitely not our dream house, but we have discovered that our dream house doesn't exist. At least not in our price range.

More Good Summer: A visit from the cadet! Having him safe at home in his own little bed is reason enough worth living for, all by itself. But having him at home to lend some friendly muscle to toting that barge and lifting that bale, What could top that?!

More Good Summer yet: Our first trip to Jamaica, and all expenses paid! Jamaica absolutely lived up to every expectation. Waterfalls, beaches, open-air restaurants, humorous road signs, flowers in cascades of rainbows, good weather~complete with a summer storm~and friendly natives. But as much as we liked the "Jamaica" stamp in our passport, nothing measures up to the "America" stamp at the end of the trail. Well, to be perfectly honest, there is no "America" stamp, only a disappointing electronic swipe. But if there were an "America" stamp, it would definitely be the best.

And this is when the Promise fell apart.

Bad Summer: One day after we arrived back in the Land of the Free, our cadet showed up for his second visit. That is always cause for celebration, and so far so good. But one day after his arrival, one of our darling daughters got sick. Fine one day, deathly sick the next, with not an instant of warning.

For her: emergency room visits, tests, scans, labs, appointments with doctors of every specialty. Threats of lupus, Crone's disease, cancer, leukemia, kidney infections, and who-knows-what other unnamed horrors.

For me: grandma-ing in spades. Breakfasts and lunches, laundries, beds, toys, you-name-it, for four little almost-motherless kidlets. Keeping two houses going is not for sissies, and only the bare minimum got done at either place. My house, four months later, still looks like we moved in yesterday.

Thank God that the other grandmother, who lives in the area was able and willing to do the afternoon shift. There went eight weeks. And finally, armed with a freezer full of ready-to-eat meals and an accommodating husband, darling daughter was able to hold her own. Nothing heroic yet, but at least essential functions. So it was time for California for me.

Good summer: California! Sorta. I am NOT a fan of California, but my mom lives there, and my brother, who lives in Japan, was coming for a visit, so that is worthwhile anyplace. It was a trip to remember, dusting off old memories, and making new ones. We were kids again, visiting the house we lived in, playing in the house where we used to visit our cousins half a century ago, doing some touristy things, meeting the new neighbors, enjoying the 107-degree record-breaking heat that we thought we had left at home. Oh, no, scratch that last one. It goes under Bad Summer.

Bad summer: My little mother's health is failing. She can no longer get around without the help of a cane or a walker. Her beloved garden and outside birds now take up far more time than they used to, a way, time is what she has now. Some things she simply can do no more. She gave up driving, leaving her at the mercy of whomever will take the time to take her the few places she needs to go. I am sandwiched between the realization of the mortality of my daughter on one side and of my mother on the other side.

At last home again, home again, to things precariously balanced, but ok for the moment. Nothing good happened at home while I was gone. My house still looked like we moved in yesterday, and my paperwork was piled sky-high. Neither of those has shown any significant improvement. But nothing terribly bad happened, either, and though my darling daughter has had another small relapse or two, she is overall very much better, a fact for which we are very thankful, even though we still don't know what ails her.

Just to top off the bad-ness of the summer, shortly after I came home my internet went on strike. Two weeks later, I am still internet-less, on begged and borrowed computer time, and really, no relief on the horizon that I can see. Trivial in the big scheme of things, I know, but how frustrated do I want to be. Technology is wonderful. When it works, but, alas.... And now I am ashamed to even include this little irritation in my bad summer, because the hits just kept on coming.

More Bad Summer: Two days later we had word that our little 3-year-old friend died suddenly. Her grandmother and I were homeschooling moms together about a hundred years ago, when our children were young. A lot of things can happen in 25 years, and what happened was that our children grew up and became parents themselves. This little girl suffered some major injuries at birth, and her life was severely compromised. She was blind, and at the age of 3 still did not sit up or even hold her own head up. We always knew that "someday" this would happen, but we had no way to know that it would be as simple and sudden, and shocking, as a cold when she was visiting her other grandmother in Florida with her family. I am once again acutely confronted with mortality in a place you don't usually find it.

Yet more of a Bad Summer: My daughter's precious mother-in-law, so selfless and generous all summer long with her time and her resources, has been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. All the more unbelievable because she was perfectly fine until only five days before, but since then, every day she is visibly worse than the day before.

What could possibly measure up to a summer that set out to be so promising? Well, as it turned out, maybe nothing. Maybe nothing at all. Maybe what trumps everything is the uneventful, everyday, ordinary day.


sterling river said...

I bet this was very difficult to write. Whew! Hard times are HARD. Thank you for the article and being a tough grammaw.

. said...

I was there for most of this, so I'll leave the comments alone except...if you ever travel outside the СШУ again (not sure why you would), you can ASK the passport control people for an actual stamp on top of the swiping :)

Marytoo said...

That's good to know, . ! I will keep that in mind. ;-)

MyAwesomeOliveShoots said...

Whoa, that is a ton of stuff! Moments like the ones you mention rock my faith and sanity. You are a strong woman and surely a blessing to your family. We often overlook the blessing of a normal, boring day!