Settling In

Slowly finding my footing again after what feels like a lost week. Our house has been buzzing with well wishers and workmen. New counters are in, as well as new light fixtures. Pictures are hung. Furniture arrives in trickles – a side effect of COVID. I am grateful for all of it.

Rachel Sunshine

“Tell me a favourite memory from your travels,” my golden-haired nurse asked me as she scoured my bruised arms for an accessible vein. I’d blown another IV and options were limited.

Rachel Sunshine I called her, this wisp of a young woman who, at first hospital-glazed glance, glowed a with a yellow aura. So I told her about Arizona, and the Salt River where the wild horses roamed. She listened with awe, her expert hands painlessly setting up a new life line.

“Promise me, you’ll sleep tonight,” she scolded me, “and tomorrow I’ll braid your hair if you like.” And then: “But only if you tell me a story.” She wrote it on my care board so we’d both remember: story and braid

We’d bonded that first moment, when chastising herself for being a dummy. I blurted out: “Thank goodness you’re a dummy, then that makes two of us”.

I arrived in hospital the day before, delivered in what we oldies affectionately call “the bus”, with sirens ablaze. Steady hands worked diligently, plugging in machines, inserting needles, asking well rehearsed questions. There were tests and a lot of uncomfortable jostling and then admittance to this room around midnight. It hadn’t been quite forty-eight hours post surgery when everything had taken a turn for the worse.

The disgruntled ER doc mumbled something about why anyone would have sent me home post-surgery in my condition, and then kindly advised that my problems were caused by an obstruction in the intestine:

“Nothing can come in, and nothing can go out,” she explained. “No more food or drink orally until we know the cause.”

We never did get the story or the braid, Ms Sunshine and I, as overnight my body started to respond to interventions. By 7:00 am, I was sitting up, eating jello when Sunshine reappeared.

“I’m in IV prison,” I told her, raising my arm to indicate a stiffly wrapped hand.

“I heard,” she frowned. “I also heard you didn’t sleep. But there is progress and that’s good.”

The thing about Rachel is that she doesn’t just practice her craft from a textbook; she takes in all the cues being fed her, and listens. She is, in fact, no dummy.

When I again showed her my swelling arm (another line blown), she sighed and suggested we give the IV a break for a bit. And when she saw that rest would be the greatest healer of all right now, she pushed the doctor to reconsider my stay.

By 2:00 pm I was released; Sunshine at my back wishing me a speedy recovery.

So, I am back at home, having slept most of yesterday and last night. I am weak. I am battered. And I am a little bit better thanks to a nurse I’ve christened Rachel Sunshine.

It was warming and in some cases, cathartic, to wake today to your responses and posts. Paul, at parallax, challenged me to write about the caregiver who helped me through. Love you all, and missed our daily check-ins. So glad to be back.

Please check this week’s offerings if you haven’t had a chance. Thanks to all:

How Do I Heal, Blog of Hammad Rais
Homesick, I Write Her
Significance, Short-Lived, Eugi’s Causerie II
Take Care of the Old, Heart to Heart
Journey to Peace, Stuff and what is…
Take Care, parallax
How Some Take Care, Sgeoil

It will take me a bit to regain my footing, so there will be no challenge tomorrow, other than for all of us to take care this week.

(Image mine)

Scenes From Ontario Winter

I cast my shadow over white banks
assert my presence, proud, defiant

Will find beauty in deserted golf courses
and colour in a monochrome season

I am haunted by a Winter state of mind
resolved to stretch myself despite creeping chill.

(Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is winter scenes. This Winter I am challenging myself to endure a season that typically I escape. I am determined to find the blessings. So far, so good.)

Sculpting

The best openings are the one’s we carve for ourselves.

We spent New Year’s Eve reminiscing about eighteen years of togetherness. Stayed up past midnight, and talked about our future. Hope coloured our words.

Sculpting has been on my mind – not literally, but in the sense of chipping away at the outer facade to invite emergence.

Ric has shed fifty pounds of excess weight, and I am now joining him in that quest. We are entering this new decade with renewed vigour. There is much we still yearn to sample.

I’m lining up my tools, examining the material before me: changes lie ahead. Bit by bit, I will ply my craft, shed the excess, intuit the contours of this life I’m co-creating.

Emergence takes time, commitment, and a willingness to be open.

(Image taken from The Grand Trunk trestle. This town we have settled in stirs my impulse towards the creative. So grateful to be here. Hope it inspires you as much as it did me. I will be back Monday with a new weekly challenge.)

Grateful for Openings

“I bought a turkey roll and frozen stuffing,” Ric announced after a recent grocery shop.

I might have raised an eyebrow.

“Thought we could have it on Christmas day.”

“We’re going to visit Mom on Christmas day,” I reminded him. “At the nursing home.”

As a blended family, Ric and I surrendered Christmas day a long time ago. As long as Ric’s Mom was alive, we’d pick her up and spend the day at a casino, usually ending up with a tuna sandwich in the restaurant. After she passed, Ric and I went alone. Then we started going south, avoiding the day altogether. But when Ric gets something in his head….

So turkey went into the oven as we headed out the door for the forty-minute drive.

What are you doing for dinner? A text from my younger sister.

Ric’s cooking here if you want to come.

They never come. My family of origin doesn’t do holidays anymore. It’s just the way it is.

We’d love to come if it’s not too much work.

We visited Mom, and our eldest daughter showed up with two of our granddaughters. We exchanged gifts and ate goodies, and then moved on to visit my older sister – also in the nursing home. More gifts passed hands.

I texted D as we headed home. Fog had set in. She was worried about it.

Back at home, Ric busied himself with prepping the rest of the meal, and I rested. At five, the doorbell rang. There was my younger sister and her husband bearing gifts.

I can’t remember a Christmas dinner tasting so good. Maybe it was the conversation, or just the sheer joy of sharing it with family.

It’s never too late, I realize, to start new traditions.

Tonight my heart is filled with gratitude, and I am hopeful.

(Thursdays are currently dedicated to gratitude. Image from personal collection.)

Pausing to Revel

Remnants of wrapping paper peek out from under the sofa. Leftover goodies tempt from the countertop. In the aftermath of our family gathering, I pause to enjoy the peace, processing the sweetness of the day.

So many precious moments:

“Grandma, can we have another present?” Three-year-old August, so enthralled with the magic of the day.

“Mom, this soup is the best yet!” So heartwarming to be able to cook for loved ones and witness their enjoyment.

“Who wants to help Grandma?” Three eager faces gathering around.

My heart is full and I am exhausted.

This is the advantage of this stage of life: the ability to imbibe in the pause.

(Thursdays I write about the things that fill me with gratitude. My challenge this week is “pause“. Image from personal collection.)

“It’s the Best!”

“Wait till I tell my Mom I’m having hot chocolate for dinner! Do you have marshmallows, too?” she’d excitedly asked the waitress.

“No marshmallows, but we have whip cream.”

“Oh yum!”

Children are so easy to please. I’d been in emergency all day, but didn’t want to cancel plans, so Ric picked her up from school and we three went to a local diner for early supper.

Able to read her own menu now, her eyes lit up at the sight of her favourite beverage. No vegetables touched her plate that night, a sin her mother is sure to scold me about, but in light of the day I’d had, I just wanted to soak in her joy.

Afterwards, we drove around to see the Christmas lights and then home for some television, a snuggle, and bed. All pretty low key.

“Staying at Grandma’s is so so fun!” she told her sister when they came to pick her up the next morning. “You get treats, and to stay up late.”

Don’t worry Mom, she didn’t even finish the hot chocolate.

As for me – my cup was overflowing.

(Thursdays I dedicate to celebrating the blessings in my life, which often translates to sharing Grandma stories. Can’t help it. They are the best, through my eyes.)