I want to sit a little longer in my chair. The breeze is blowing in the side window, and everything is so quiet. All our Littles have given big hugs, collected their flip flops and belongings, and been safely strapped into their respective car seats and boosters and shouted their good-byes. All my adult children that are “spoused” have packed their cars, hugged their Daddy and Momma and their sibs and in-laws and driven out of the lane on their way back to their normals.
It has been a bitter sweet weekend. We had planned to go to Pennsylvania to Copeland Lodge (http://copelandspring.com/) for five days this week (Wednesday to Sunday) for our biennual family vacation. Ten bedrooms, lots of bathrooms, big kitchen and great room — everything just so right for a family our size. Daniel’s sister, Lena, was going to be with us, so that made a grand total of 15 in the lodge. Eldest Daughter, Christina, had carefully planned and the rest had marshalled around her to help with food and expenses and activities. I could hardly contain myself, I was so excited. We had arranged care for Nettie and Cecilia, and time away in a neutral turf without home responsibilities sounded so wonderful.
Then Sweet Mama fell, broke her femur, had surgery, developed pneumonia, had a heart attack, developed a secondary infection and eventually came home from the hospital under the care of Hospice to a sunny corner room at the Country Rest Home where there would be care for her broken leg, and comfort for her remaining days. Our children offered me the option of not going to Pennsylvania, but rather a “stay-cation” where everyone would come home and we would do the best we could while here at home. I could almost feel the anxiety drain from my body as I discovered that this was not the offer of only one of our kids, but every single one of them, along with the three in-laws. I gratefully took the offer. It gave me the opportunity to be close enough to keep in touch, and my siblings graciously freed me up from having to be responsible for what happened with Mama for these five days.
And so, we’ve had some happy, happy times together. Some of the stuff they did without me. Some of the time they cheerfully held the edges of stuff together for me with Nettie and Cecilia and together, we just kept things going. There was a middle of the night call as Mama went into crisis, and then daily visits and catching up with calls and texts. I was so glad I was here, and could be involved in these critical days, even while others carried the brunt of the burden. The whole intensity of the situation felt so different than it would have from four hours away.
There was a time, Thursday night, when we did not think Mama would live through the night. I spoke to my brother, Clint, and asked him to come. Mark spoke to Nel and Rose and told them they should come, as well. Mama took one look at her oldest son and things were immediately better. When Nel got in the next morning, she went into a quiet sort of waiting that was much easier for us to handle. And while she is not getting better, there is a peacefulness that is wonderful to see. However, though things are not as critical as they were, she does continue to deteriorate. Clint left to go home to South Carolina around noon, and Nels plan to leave in the morning. The four youngest of Mama’s children will see this through. I’m so glad that Clint and Nel and Rose came. Mama’s most lucid moments were for them this weekend, and their memories will be far better than we had hoped when we asked them to come home. The days ahead look uncertain and difficult, but we are not alone, and we have incredible support from our families and the extended families.
And I am free to be more involved again. Once again, having Lena here, having Rachel home, and having Deborah’s familiarity with our house routine and good help are blessings of no small measure. There is much for which to be thankful.
And so, though our family may not have had the vacation that we had hoped to have, I believe that we still have had the very best that these days could have afforded under the circumstances.
. . . and my heart gives grateful praise.