Then the time passes and I don’t.
But today, I think I will. Today is my mom’s 79th birthday. The morning breeze is flapping the American flag on my porch. The wind chime is singing to me. My husband woke before the sun to take my mom flying in his airplane as a birthday celebration.
It is a good day to be grateful.
This summer I have loved taking our jet skiis out on the lakes. This is our first full summer in East Texas–we arrived mid-summer last year–and the simplicity of having this readily available has been delightful. In California the lakes were far away, and it when you add the gas money, the cost of getting into the lake, and the time required we just did not spend much time as a family on the water.
This summer that totally changed.
It is 32 minutes from our driveway to being in the water. It is a $3 fee that we put in an envelope in a box by the ramp. SIMPLE. Affordable.
I love it.
Because this is the season I am living, and because this is my mom’s birthday, I am going to quote something my mom said in a text to my sister in law, thanking her for birthday flowers:
Thank you so very much. I’m 79 tomorrow! I’m so happy to make it this far; there were times, this past year, when I was unsure I would/could.
The gastroenterologist said this morning that I looked robust and healthy, and I did not look like I needed a feeding tube!
I don’t want anybody else’s life. I am happy and grateful to be living my own.
Building upon the quote from my mom, the most profound thing I have (re)learned if this: We are capable of learning new normals.
My mom, who reigned for decades as the Queen of Oversharing and who could talk the paint off a wall, can no longer talk. She cannot eat regular food or smile on command.
Something is going terribly wrong between her brain and her muscles. It could be her brain; it could be her nerves. What feels like a billion tests, ordered by a thousand doctors, in endless hospitals and offices, has resulted in several diagnoses she does not have.
We don’t actually know what she has, but her hands and her mouth don’t do what we want them to do.
We have been told it is ALS. We have been told it is not.
We have been told it is Progressive Bulbar Palsy. We have been told it is not.
We have been told by many people in several states that there is nothing that can be done.
That is our new normal.
And we are making the best of it.
For so long I have read mostly non-fiction, Bible Studies, medical and educational opinions and my sweet little brain struggles to follow stories…so the summer always inspires me to try to retrain my mind.
My first novel of the summer was one I picked up at Sam’s Club specifically because of the title: The Book Of Summer. I didn’t love it, but I finished it, so YAY me.
The next book I read (finally) because it had been on my shelf for a long, long time was Everybody’s Fool, by Richard Russo. That one I really enjoyed!
Finally, my favorite of the summer, was absolutely The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer.
My sweet, precious mother in law passed away this summer. Her father, my husband’s grandfather, immigrated from Guernsey roughly 100 years ago. As a graduation gift to our teenage daughter, my husband took her to Europe. They went to Germany and Guernsey.
My daughter met her grandmother’s cousin who lived on Guernsey Island while it was occupied by the Germans in WW2. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE how grateful I am she had that experience?
As they were flying over the Atlantic, I was at Barnes & Noble buying the book. I had wanted to read it for a long time, and this moment seemed to good to pass up. The timing was perfect…I devoured the book and loved every page.
REFLECTIONS***** In many ways the summer of 2018 was the SUMMER OF SADNESS. There were beautiful moments. But there were some hard, hard things as well that I will write about at some point. But the pause this precious morning to reflect on four things is one I am grateful for…four…