Thursday, September 21, 2017

Raise Your Glasses, Please!

Today is the twenty-sixth anniversary of the smartest choice I've ever made. Marrying John set my life on a path that, for the first time in my almost 40 years of twisting, turning, often jolting travel, felt absolutely right. I've decided that if there is no doubt about your choice of partner for a journey, there should never be doubts about where it leads you, regardless of the inevitable ups and downs. We've had plenty of those, still do, but I don't for a moment question the rightness of "us."

My first novel is dedicated "to John, who makes me possible."  I'd lived decades locked in relationships that dictated my every step, because any independent ventures were in some way threatening to my partner. With John, I was free to be, even encouraged to be, whatever I believed I might be. He has never questioned my ability to do whatever I dared attempt, whether it be taking on a starring role in a play two weeks before opening night, or tearing apart and reconstructing a 1940's kitchen. He has far more confidence in me than I have. It's that confidence that finally made "me" possible.

When I started writing, and amazingly continued writing, my first novel, I had no idea it would ever become more than a little story I wrote to affirm the shaky belief that I did indeed "have a book in me." I wasn't even willing at first to share it with John, but eventually it became perversely vital to me that he read what I'd written. He did. At the appropriate points, he laughed, he sighed, and he wept. It was then that we both knew, without knowing how, that this story could do more than exist for a time merely taking up space in my hard drive. I'm certain that without his encouragement, his patience, and his 20-plus years experience as an editor, I would never have attempted to send my little book out into the world. He's made so many wonderful things possible through our years together, and my writing life definitely ranks near the top.

The book John made possible, Hearts Unfold, is currently free wherever ebooks are sold. We can't offer you all a glass of  champagne, but won't you join us in celebrating this special day by helping  yourself to, or sending your friends a copy? We'd be honored to have you share in a "toast" to one more year of "us."

Friday, September 15, 2017

Take My Heart--and Other Broken Bits

The other day John called our pastor to give him an update on all of our various health issues. "The cat is the only member of the family who's well," he began with a slightly weary chuckle. These calls have been a regular form of communication for the past two years, thus the weariness of placing yet another one. Going on to fill in the current details, first his, then mine, and finishing with our cocker Raleigh's, he wrapped things up with gratitude for continuing prayers and all the many practical ways our little congregation has helped to keep us afloat.

I'm grateful, too, don't get me wrong. But the truth is, I'd rather not be in need of their gifts. I'm tired of being broken, not to mention broke. I'm sick of being sick, taking pills, seeing doctors, making appointments, taking tests, all at the expense of the life I'd love to be living. There was a time, a few years ago, when I regularly remarked at how healthy I was as I got older. I figured I'd put in my sick time in my twenties and thirties (that's a sad tale all its own.) Now I was able to enjoy doing most of the things I loved at the risk of nothing more than a few sore muscles. I actually anticipated being one of those tough old ladies, one like my grandmother, who at seventy could swing a grubbing hoe with zeal, can fruit and vegetables all day and then cook supper, and heft a load of wet laundry without so much as a grunt. Things are definitely not working out the way I expected.

After John's leg fractured in June of '15, my strength was put to the ultimate test. A non-ambulatory husband is more work than a newborn baby. Laundry, meals, baths, plus dressing changes, wobbly one-footed transfers, and restorative exercises, and don't forget the endless bills and paperwork, kept me steadily moving pretty much around the clock. Sure, I got tired, but who wouldn't? If I had a pain, I kept it too myself. I was prideful enough to insist I could handle things, mostly because who else, in all honesty, could or would?

I had a little secret, though, which I even tried to keep from myself. I was peeing pink. Whatever the cause, it wasn't going to be seen to until I could leave John for more than an hour, so why worry? That little secret turned out to be bladder cancer, and it was at that point, in June of '16, that I really started to fall apart. I went through a year of tests and treatments and at the moment, things look pretty good on that front. However . . .

I wonder now if I should have just kept some other things to myself. I know all too well that once you mention chest pain and profuse sweating to a doctor, they're not going to just let it ride. I'm having a cardiac cath  next week. And this nasty sinus infection that hasn't cleared up after two years of treatment? The ENT, who looks like he recently finished high school, predicts only surgery will do the trick. And sadly, I expect he's right. I'm not worried about myself, but I do fret over leaving John alone so much and not feeling up to taking care of him as I want to.

Enough about me. Recently, we noticed John having what looked a lot like TIA's and discovered he has a "smallish" cerebral aneurysm. Since his mother died with one, and his brother had one treated, we're certainly not ignoring that! Neurologists are as scarce as fresh seafood out here in the heartland, but we finally got an appointment with one in November. Meanwhile, I'm watching him like a hawk does a newly mowed field. He says he's not worried at all about himself, but he does admit to worrying about me. We're even on that front.

Of course, along with all of the above mentioned ailments come the bills--for every test, every unseen doctor who reads the results of said tests, every doctor's visit to get the order for the test and hear the test results. That's before the bills for the actual treatments, which would make my heart race even if it's perfectly healthy. Thank heaven for all the generous souls whose gifts at least keep us in groceries and more. Those gifts are more than money, they are love. They remind us that, worthy or not, we are cared for.

I so long to go back to becoming a tough old lady. My hope is that repairing all these broken bits will give us the time to do things we still want and even need to do. I even hold out hope of becoming a writer again some day. While we accept we'll never have money to spend the way we used to, money is nothing compared to days and nights spent together doing what we love. If you're one of those praying for us, just ask for that--time together to watch the garden grow, time to listen to the music, to read the books, and just be.