Bonus Time

Yesterday, a week ago, Nick thought he was dying.

I did, too.

But thank God and good doctors and support of his kids and caring neighbors, Nick lives to be quiet and then drop a zinger that makes people laugh.

He lived for another trip to Blowing Rock.

It has been a hot and cranky summer. Little rain, big water bills, and a rain dance or too, that involved a pool. I will not say if it were Nick or I, who did the pole dance. But I bet you could guess.

It was mountain type of day. Nick had rested all week and he was ready to see something different. Mountains. They have always been an elixir in our life. Some people love the beach. We love the mountains.

There was a buoyancy in the car that hadn’t been there for a long time. We played music. Nick didn’t even mind my opera. Pavarotti. Three Tenors. Me, screeching.

We didn’t stay long at Blowing Rock. I think we wanted to see if it was still there.

Oh gosh, there is my woodpecker. I love birds with long peckers.

I think I scared him with that remark. He flew back into the woods.

We walked just a bit in Blowing Rock and had to decide if we wanted to eat lunch in a restaurant or pick up a pizza from Mellow Mushroom and take it to the mountain lake that is covered in places, with water lilies, has a wide walking path, and makes you feel free and healthy.

We got the pizza and drove to the park. We ate by the car and thenNikc got his walking stick out that I bought him a few weeks ago at McDowellNature Preserve. I got out my walking sticks that I haven’t used since last summer.

And we hit the trail.

Nick has not been able to do this for a long time. His walking is mostly in shuffling steps. But since his episode last week, and treatment with strong antibiotics, he walks better. He still isn’t strong and he has to watch his balance, but he can move.

Hallelujah!

We walked toward what had been a fish hatcheries, but now, only has water and some crawdads.

Nick sat on benches or rock walls, to rest. I bopped along with my camera and found things to shoot.

We talked about a neat-o tree and the lilies and I pointed out things that others, without a camera, not see. That is the thing about taking photos … you look for what others might miss.

I played with settings and chatted-up a couple of passers-by.

We didn’t go far in distance, but we went an eternity away from where we were last weekend.

The drive home was delightful. Nick shut his eyes and rested and I drove along in silence. No opera. No lalalalala screeching from my throat.

It was great fun being a wife yesterday. Nick had a delightful time. Bonus time.

And now, I shall go make some scones, tend my diminishing garden, fold clothes and do whatever I have to do to live in gratitude.

Because we just never know.

Susan

La Ploop

It is a mountain morning here in Clover. Cool, clear and chipper.

The backyard and outside are inviting. If I try, I can imagine that I am in Cades Cove, one of my special places. It would be nice to be there, but I am content with being here. Today, I don’t want to run away from myself.

The birds are skirmishing and I want to tell them to settle down, things will be all right. They might not be what you expect or desire, but they will be fine.

Yes, both feet are under me. The darkness of recent events with Nick have passed. Other situations are still in flux, but they will have to figure themselves out without me sorting them out. I have tried, trust me, but it is time to step back and return to my own life and things that I can control.

Good Grumpy Old Men, I can sound like I am picking lint out of navels.

Life involves a certain degree of naval lint plucking, doesn’t it? You feel washed by other people’s problems and forget things like boundaries and the fact that each person makes his or her own decisions.

Living other people’s lives is exhausting. Sometimes, I have to figure out the difference between support and enabling.

Winston was looking for his buddy, Tucker, when I took him out. Tucker’s mom stepped in and took care of The Boy, when Nick decided on joy-riding in an ambulance and partaking of hospital cuisine.

I have wonderful neighbors. Thought I felt alone last Friday, yes, a week ago, today, I found out that that we weren’t. Offers to help day or night, have been givenIt made me feel so much better. Several delicious dinners have been provided. And words of comfort have flowed.

The leaves on the trees have stilled and the birds are quiet. That makes my thoughts go in a different direction.

The Boy has come out to the porch with his tennis ball. Now he is staring at me.

We are just being.

I read Brad Pitt was having a heck of a time with Angelina Jolie and I read that Ben Affleck stopped at Jack in the Box on his way to rehab. Dennis Shield, Bethenny Frankel’s on again off again boyfriend died of a drug overdose a couple of weeks ago.

Messy lives. Money. No money. Fame. No fame. Money. No money. Hearts are broken at all levels. Bad decisions are made. People treat people they love or loved, like shit.

There really is no figuring life out, is there? As soon as we think aha, something happens and we, say, “What the hollandaise?”

OH, there is Mr. Woodpecker. He excites me. And there he goes. Skittish. Must have had an emergency on his branch.

It is a random thought, but I hope I don’t outlive my mind.

I am trying to decide whether to give people who brought us dinner and sent treats, my homemade sals or chili sauce. I know they will get a card with one of my paintings.

Back to my neighbors. As you can imagine, Nick and I miss a lot of parties and things because he doesn’t feel real chipper. I think people understand that. But even though we aren’t able to make a lot of things, they make us feel that our presence is missed, and I think that is lovely.

There are 3 goldfinches at the feeder. Nick just came out to sit. And he left.

You know what got me though the last few days?

The little things. My hot tea. Checking my propagation bins. Figuring out where to move which plant to get better light. Dead-heading some flowers. Talking to my neighbors and seeing their eyes full of concern. Knowing that the kids are back in their own lives. Having lunch with my daughter-in-law and laughing about stupid stuff.

Yesterday, I made myself laugh. I decided, after listening to a French song, that French people don’t poop. The ploop. I must go la ploop. And eat a baguette.

My toes have straightened themselves out. For the time being. Oh, ploop, the ugly birds arrived in a group.

But I clapped and they are gone.

A week ago, I thought that life as I knew it had ended.

I love it whenI am wrong.

Susan

When Your Mind Runs Amok in a Crisis

Life is one weird taco salad.
 
I feel like life has been one of those “48 Hours” episodes. Except without commercials that bring in revenue or at least give you a bathroom break.
 
First of all, good news. On his second ride of the day … to the dump, Nick said that although he still feels sick, he thinks he has more strength than he did before. We guess that it is because this infection had been brewing longer than we thought. But those words were wonderful.
 
Last night as we were scrolling through Netflix for a movie, I blubbered up a bit. Out of the blue. So Nick asks, “What’s wrong?”
 
“I thought I was going to loose you,” to which he replied, “It didn’t do me any good, either.”
 
Yessirreebob.
 
Here is one of the things I learned.
 
Episodes like this are emotionally charged. I looked at nick on the gurney in the ER, his blood pressure really high, unable to move much, scared, filled with anxiety, and weak. He was afraid. I saw it on his face, in his eyes.
 
At that time, I was not in control of anything, except being there and trying to assure Nick that he would be all right. That involved a cool washcloth and constantly rubbing his head and arms. Those were familiar touches to him.
 
Other than that, what happened, what was found or happened, was in the hands of professionals, but also, people I didn’t know. Yes, it was in God’s hands, too. But in that moment, you are looking eyeball to eyeball with people who have to make decisions that can make a person live, or, well, go on a very long vacation to some part of eternity.
 
Backing up. One of the toughest things I had to decide was do I call the kids? When should I call the kids? Should they come? Or do I say that I am taking care of things?
 
Is this life or death or is this me playing or sounding the wolf howl? Am I over reacting?
 
What are the doctors saying with their eyes or body language? Is this that time that I have always dread, where it will be the end of our lives together? Really. That was what was in my head. And heart.
 
I didn’t cry in front of Nick. But when I went out of the cube and tried talking to my son or a nurse, my face and voice simply went there. And then I sucked it up and went back in and got that rag cool, again.
 
After it was determined what was wrong, and a course of treatment began, a certain part of the anxiety is lifted … somewhat. Even if the treatment worked, what were the physical and metal repercussions of this? What if Nick couldn’t walk, go to the restroom on his own, talk, etc?
 
I have talked about time. Aging. Tim. Aging. Life.
 
In moments lie these, time, instant time, the time of the moment and future time, hit you all at once. People aren’t kept in a hospital until they fully recover, or not. They are sent home before your mind has caught up with what has happened.
 
My kids saw me at my weakest. I am not weak. But I can be weak. And I hated them seeing me be old and weird and sort of foppish. I really hated that. Would I go down in their estimation? Would they think, “Oh my God, look at what we are going to have to deal with?”
 
Would they think that all I would do is look at them and cry?
 
It isn’t that I had nick dead and buried, but as i drove in the dark to the ER, I thought, what if this is it? And what if I am going to be left alone in the dark of the night?
 
My dear daughter said that she would stay with Nick the first night. She knew I was exhausted. But I said, no. When she said, again, that she would do it, I said, “I don’t want to go home to the house without Nick.”
 
In the layers of my concern, I thought about how the kids had busy lives and they dropped them to come down and I felt so torn about that. Life moves on for everyone, sick, dying, dead or alive. The all had commitments. Why couldn’t I just handle this on my own?
 
I had thought that if things had gone the other way, and Nick didn’t make it, and I had said don’t come, it will be all right, would they be upset with me? Then I thought, how many times can I call wolf?
 
I swear, so many times I end up saying, well, dad has Parkinson’s or he has cancer, or I have cancer or I can’t see well or yada, yada? Will they wish we would just drop so they wouldn’t have to deal with aging parents?
 
I know that some of my thinking is ridiculous, but that is how I am. It is who I am.
 
Fortunately, we dodged a bullet. Someday, it won’t be so.
 
I am not out of my emotional woods yet. I was exhausted yesterday. On fumes. But I cleaned and went around like it was just another day.
 
And it was. And so will today be.
 
I am at my desk right now. No more screened porch for the time being. That reminds me of the past. I want to use this episode to change course a bit.
 
What good came out of this is that my kids still seem to be speaking to me. They are back in their own lives, flying here, there, teaching kids, living their lives. I have wonderful neighbors who care, really care, and have told me that 24-7, they are there if we need them. I think they really mean it!
 
Nick is up. I just heard him. I better go and see how he is doing.
 
I will let you know.
 
Susan