Up until a few weeks ago, I had a friend I had never met. We’d spoken on the phone many times — me, as a patient; she as part of my primary care clinic’s support team. No matter the reason for my call, crisis or question, procedure or prescription, she always makes me laugh. No easy feat because I’m usually stressed out about whatever’s going on. She says it all started about a year ago. I left a message on the clinic support voicemail. She returned the call and we spoke a few times about whatever it was.
A few weeks after I arrived at the transitional care facility where I’ve been staying, a care conference was held on my behalf. In attendance were the doctor, nurse practitioner, heads of nursing and therapy, my therapists (occupational, physical and speech) and the person who coordinates patient discharge.
My suggestion last weekend that we buy a Christmas tree elicited a few eye rolls and some “Are you crazy?” looks from my husband. A bit later, he asked how big I thought it should be. “Four feet,” I said. He disagreed. We compromised at three. It’s been more than 10 weeks since I was transported from the hospital to a transitional care facility in Bloomington. Ten weeks away from home.
If you read this column even intermittently, you know I often quote my mother. Mom had a saying for every problem, situation or occasion. One of Mom’s maxims came to mind the other day when someone mentioned running. I remembered my husband’s and my scheme, concocted decades ago, to run every day forever. In our 70s and 80s, we’d participate in 5K and 10K races.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love Christmas with its decorations, carols and cookies, too, but Thanksgiving is less stressful. It’s uncomplicated. No gifts to buy, few cards to mail; nothing to decorate. All Thanksgiving requires is a meal. The same delicious foodstuff every year. In the opening scene of the “movie, “Fiddler on the Roof,” the main character, Tevye, asks the question, “How do we keep our balance?” He answers the query himself with one emphatic word, “Tradition!” My mother fixed the same traditional meal every Thanksgiving.
Ever since I learned to read, I’ve loved books. Devoured them, really. With stacks of books at school, a bookmobile making regular stops on Fiftieth Street and a public library just a bike ride away, I was, literally, a well-fed kid. B. Dalton Bookseller, which Dayton’s department store opened in 1966 at Southdale, is my first memory of a real bookstore. I spent a lot of hours in that store. A lot of money, too. In fact browsing and buying books became an addiction. Something comes over me when I enter a bookstore.
About seven years ago, I wrote a column titled, “The lost art of handkerchiefs,” I told of my mother’s penchant for the delicate square pieces of fabric carried in her purse or pocket. Or, occasionally, tucked up the sleeve of her sweater. Mom had a fine collection of hankies, most purchased at Young-Quinlan, a downtown department store. Often, my sister and I helped Mom make a selection. So many to choose from, though.
A therapist recently made the observation that I am in denial about my disease. I took umbrage with the statement and stewed about it for quite awhile. The issue is that even though I use a wheelchair while I’m in transitional care, I haven’t given up on the idea that, with the right amount of therapy, I could be walking. I read “The Secret,” watched the DVD and feel strongly that if you believe something can happen, it will. Giving up is never an option.
A few months ago, I learned about a contest sponsored by a lending institution. Entrants had been asked to answer the question, “What makes a place feel like a home?” I didn’t enter the competition but the topic got me thinking about my own place. What, exactly, makes it feel like a home? And what exactly is a home, anyway? Merriam-Webster wasn’t any help. The dictionary states a home is where a person lives. Nothing contest-worthy there.
The other day I was thinking about the vows my husband and I made to each other when we married over 25 years ago. You may have made the same promises on your wedding day. As I repeated them over and over in my head, “For better for worse, for richer for poorer,” didn’t have as profound an impact on me as the part about “in sickness and in health.” During my first marriage, with two little ones, being poor meant living on peanut butter sandwiches, Campbell’s soup, hot dogs and Kool-aid.