Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A day that lives in infamy

There are many dates that live in infamy. Pearl Harbor, September 11th and others are dates that stand out in the memories of those who were alive at the time. Dates of horror. Dates of tragedy. Dates when everything changed.

For me a date that lives in infamy is May 23, 2001. 16 years ago today.

On that day my mom went in for a heart catheterization.  She had had a few mild heart attacks the weekend before and they needed to address the issues. My mom had had lupus and had been on prednisone for over 25 years and I don't know that the heart surgeon had noticed that when looking at her history or maybe he knew but decided to still risk the procedure despite her brittle blood vessels. The stint went through her blood vessel and they lost her for 10 minutes and worked on her for 30 minutes to bring her back. Not long afterwards she had a stroke and she spent the next several weeks in and out of ICUs before being stable enough to be transferred to a nursing home where she spent the rest of her life.

I came across some pictures the other day, pictures of that season, that season I don't like to remember.

I love remembering my mom like this:

It's hard to see pictures like this, when she first got transferred to the senior living facility in August.
 One thing I love about this picture though is seeing my dad read to my mom. I don't know that he ever read aloud to her before this season unless it was something he found interesting from the newspaper and I don't know if they had regular time in the Bible together before then but I know that time in God's Word was important to mom before May 23, her Bible had the Daily Bread in it opened to May 23th so I know that she read it before going to the hospital that fateful morning. Dad made it a priority to read God's Word to her since she could no longer read it for herself. It was so neat to watch my dad care for my mom and read to her from God's Word every day. He was an amazing, faithful caregiver. That's something I didn't really appreciate or realize at the time, young as I was.
We were hoping that mom would be able to someday to come home. We put our lives and plans on hold and moved from TN to NY to help out my dad, knowing that he wouldn't be able to do it on his own. The picture above is from a chance we got to bring mom home for an outing. It appears our cat made itself at home in her lap and she looks to be enjoying listening to Russ as we talked to him while he was off at college. [Do you remember being able to talk on 3 different phones in the same conversation??] She had lots of speech therapy and I know that at one point my aunt got her to say "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" but after May 23 she could never really communicate with words. I now wonder how that made her feel, as a teacher and public speaker.
After a while dad bought a wheelchair van and she got a bit better so he was able to take her on outings more often. This picture is from Thanksgiving when we got to take her to our family gathering at my grandparents' house.

My mom loved being a grandma and, though I prefer the pictures of her from the times she snuck down to TN to snuggle that Caleb...
 Or the time we made it to NY for Thanksgiving and to show off our boy...

 Most of the time she spent with Caleb was while she was in a hospital bed on Sunday afternoons after church when we would go and spend the afternoon with her for all those months that she was in the nursing home. I used to hate these pictures because I don't want to remember mom that way but as I came across them I realize that I am so glad I have these pictures of my parents enjoying Caleb during a visit.

They loved to watch him toddling around her room, playing with the hospital curtains and "helping" to push her wheelchair. Once a month dad's cousin and her husband and a few of their friends would come with a guitar and sing some songs to mom, and mom and dad really enjoyed watching Caleb dance to the music. How I wish I would have gone and visited her more...

 The summer of 2002 we were able to bring her to my grandparent's backyard a few times for picnics and, even though she couldn't eat (she could never pass a swallow test), she enjoyed watching people, especially Caleb splashing in the pool.
We even got to have a joint birthday party together since our birthdays are only 5 days apart.
I may or may not have snuck her a taste of that whipped cream.

I wish I could find a copy of the picture from October when we had Hannah's baby dedication at church. Glenn's mom and grandma had come out for a wedding so Caleb had 5 grandmas at church that day and he just kept turning around and saying, "Grandma? Grandma? Grandma? Grandma? Grandma?" There's a picture of mom "holding" baby Hannah that I may stick in here someday if I find it.

I used to hate these pictures because they were so painful but, looking at them today, I am so thankful that I have them and I'm putting them here because I want a record of this season. Yes, it was an incredibly painful season of my life for so many reasons and I have so many regrets from that season and it still hurts to see mom all curled up like that remembering her limitations and I miss my parents terribly but God has taught me so much both during that season and since, as a result of it.

Though I sure miss and long for wisdom from this lady that visited us for Easter not too long before...
I'm glad I had the chance to live nearby and have time with this version of her for about 19 months.

I'm also thankful that God was merciful and took her home in His perfect timing so she no longer has that old, broken, deteriorating body. What I wouldn't give to have a conversation with her, to glean some of her wisdom, but, instead, I get something better - I get to go directly to the One who was the source of all of her wisdom, the Savior that she loved so much.

Yes, May 23 is a day that lives in infamy for me but He is good and does good and I can trust that He knows best, even in giving us infamous days, because He uses them for His glory and our good and I am grateful.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Soon this will all be but a happy memory.

"Soon this will all be but a happy memory."

These were my parting words as I left small group on Monday night. I then got choked up and left. Caleb asked me if it was legal to drive and cry. I told him I hope so because I've done it many times.

Our time in Fort Worth is coming to a close. It's hard to believe 4 years of residency are almost over. I know most of my residency wife friends are so glad it is almost over and that their husbands will soon have a more normal, hopefully better schedule.

Change-hater over here isn't as excited. I've gotten used to the "not normal" of residency. If you don't like one month it's ok. It's only a month. Unless you have back to back MCH rotations and even then it's not that bad, at least for me with almost grown humans to interact with at home. [Re-reading that, I wonder, actually, maybe I do like change as long as it doesn't involve saying goodbye and purging and packing.]

Of course, change-hater over here is also signing herself up for a life of almost constant change. A life of packing and purging every 1-3 years. A life of near constant hellos and goodbyes. It is a part of this journey we're on, until we get to go Home.

"Soon this will all be but a happy memory."

I cried as I said those words but later they made me smile. I am so grateful for the memories that I have had the privilege of having in this stage of my life. How much richer my life is because of the happy memories.

I was worried about coming to JPS because the impression that I had gotten was that it was not family friendly and the schedule would be unbearable to those at home. That has not been the case for me. God allowed Glenn to match with some incredible people some of whom we've had the privilege of living life and meeting with on a weekly basis for Bible study, encouragement and accountability. I am so grateful for these friends and the others I have been able to get to know through JPS. The schedule hasn't been that bad either. Again, it may help that I have pretty independent, almost grown humans living with me not small needy ones. Surprise, surprise, God knew what He was doing. Happy memories.

Another group of happy memories I'm mourning is the loss of our school family. At the end of PGY2 I was about to pull my hair out and quit homeschooling but God told me not to give up and pointed me towards Arlington Liber Academy, a school that meets once a week that has helped me grow as a mom and teacher and helped my kids grow as students and humans. The lessons we have learned there and the friends and mentors we have had have been priceless to us. Again, surprise, surprise, God knew what He was doing. Happy memories.

In choosing a house to live in for residency our priority was a less than five minute commute to the hospital. A friend had recommended that I look for a place near a church to get involved in. That was not a priority for me but that is exactly what God gave us. We live across the street from our church which has been SO convenient and, though it is far from perfect (probably because it is made up of humans and our family would have ruined it if it was perfect), it has been a great place for us to serve and build relationships. Many adults from there have loved, spoken truth to, prayed for, and invested in our family and for that I am very grateful. Surprise, surprise. Again, God knew what He was doing. More happy memories.

"Soon this will all be but a happy memory."

Yes, yes, it will. I now say that with a smile. I am so thankful for the memories. How grateful I am for our 4 years here. Thanks, God.

Should the Lord tarry, I am sure that there are many times in the future when I will "get" to say,
"Soon this will all be but a happy memory." I'm looking forward to and excited about the chance to keep making happy and not so happy memories and trusting the Lord that He will carry us through both.