Thursday, November 28, 2013

Reasons to Be Thankful (In the Category of Say What You Mean) #52Weeks

Tuesday, November 26: I'm sitting in a hospital waiting room right now. It seems like a strange place to begin a post about thankfulness. Or maybe not? I'm here by choice and not by mandate. I'm thankful for that. There were more of us here earlier, each of us hauling identical plastic bags filled with the belongings of the person for whom we are here. As the afternoon has gotten on, though, the ranks have thinned. Lucky bastards having outpatient surgery have wheeled by me, looks of supreme relief on their faces. I envy them, but I'm sure I've got nothing on how my husband will feel later, when he comes to with a shiny new hip that he'll need to learn how to use.


Thursday, November 28: It's not how we expected to spend Thanksgiving Day this year, here at home, the two of us. There's no turkey in the oven. We weren't sure we would be home, you see. Who knew that these days, they can saw out your yucky old hip and put a shiny new one in, get you walking on it within hours and then send you home the next day? I'm thankful for that fact. Otherwise, I'd be sitting in the hospital again today, not in a waiting room, but in an actual room, with a view of a roof and some vents. A "private" room where everyone knocks first, but they come in anyway.

For one month of this year, February to March, we actually expected to be in Chattanooga, Tennessee today, having a traditional turkey dinner with complete strangers and my father, who had become like family to these people. The idea that his daughters should meet his Chattanooga family (as he called them) made him very happy. Sis and I planned to bring the husbands along for this visit to Tennessee. We wanted them to see the aquarium in Chattanooga. In addition to the usual coral reef tank, the Tennessee Aquarium has one of the largest fresh water aquariums in North America (follow a drop of rain from the top of the Smokey Mountains to the Tennessee River). A second building houses a shark tank, columns of jellyfish, and penguins. There's a butterfly atrium on the roof.

And I wanted my husband to see the The Passage, a Cherokee memorial there at the river's edge. It's powerful, a tribute to Ross' Landing, the launching point for the Trail of Tears. Both of his Cherokee grandmothers managed to stay in Tennessee. His father's mother married a white man. He is not sure how his mother's mother managed to avoid the march to Oklahoma. I knew The Passage would speak to him. The Aniyunwiya, as they call themselves, believe they came from the Pleiades; they whisper to their own.


In March, a hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee called me. Dad had fallen and couldn't get up. That shit really happens. I don't chuckle at those commercials anymore. I got there in time, if you call five minutes "in time." Sis was still in the air. But I think she knew before she landed that Dad was gone. Just like that.

We didn't have time or the heart either in that trip or the next one a week later for Dad's memorial service. But we made it down to the banks of the Tennessee River, to Ross' landing.


After the shock wore off and we realized our Thanksgiving was again open, we considered several options for the holiday of food, football and family, but then Smitty kitty was diagnosed with cardio myopathy. The genetic heart defect requires him to take diuretics every 12 hours or die. We promised him in June if he survived being boarded during our trip to the Rolling Stones concert in Philly, we would never leave him again. He survived then and survives today, amazing all of us, including his cardiologists at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Vet Medicine. It's a reason to be thankful. We decided to stay home.

I planned to cook a turkey today, and green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, crescent rolls, and pumpkin whoopie pies.  By all rights, I should be on my feet right now, in the kitchen, making an enormous mess that smells delicious nonetheless. Few things make me happier. Back in September I invited friends, and the dinner party was on. I began to look forward to November. Around that same time, we learned that my husband's worsening hip and back pain would require hip replacement surgery. 

A month later, we learned the surgery date: November 26, a Tuesday.  Not just any Tuesday, though, the one before Thanksgiving. Facing the real possibility that the surgery would require two days in the hospital, I uninvited my Thanksgiving day guests. I ended up cooking a turkey the Saturday before the surgery so I would have leftovers to eat. It was nice, although not the same. But it's a reason to be thankful.

We're home today. That is a very big reason to be thankful. But we are both exhausted after two long and stressful days. Today is about learning to navigate the house with a walker and pull up socks with a reacher. Tomorrow we'll sort out bathing and shaving. Hopefully, we will get to see a friend or two before the holiday weekend ends; I'll be thankful for that.

But today, I write. Few things make me happier, and it's nice to be home and to have the time, because I have just under 10,000 words to go to finish the #NaNoWriMo challenge. I may yet pull it off. It's a reason to be thankful.


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