It’s Our Time, Again.

26 11 2010

I apologize for the rambling and disjointed composition of this post but this is the only honest way to write it.

It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and I cannot sleep.  No, I don’t think it was the late night turkey sandwich and piece of pumpkin pie although I still feel like I ate too much food yesterday.  My mind is churning–churning over the events of yesterday and how they impact my future and my view of the future.

Our family has always been big fans of Thanksgiving. Depending on which generation you would survey, the importance of the holiday would be based, to greater or lesser degrees, on religious faith, appreciation of family togetherness along with an appreciation of food as a recognition and celebration acknowledging the good life our family has had over the decades. However, yesterday will surely stand out in my memory as a Thanksgiving day full of drama, gratitude, realization and appreciation.

Considering the current situation with my mother, we decided that this Thanksgiving would be best if it remained relatively small.  Our two oldest kids and their crews had Thanksgiving meals with in-laws.  Our middle daughter and her family decided that they would take the day to finish packing in preparation for their move to a new home this weekend.  Our youngest and her husband (his family is in Canada) decided that they would drive to Princeton for the traditional meal.  That meant a total of five people to prepare a meal for.  This was a piece of cake.  Of course, that is easy for me to say.  Even though I probably do more cooking and scratch food prep than most husbands, I never lose sight of who does the lion’s share of meal preparation day in and day out.

As the culinary concoctions were progressing about an hour before our daughter and son-in-law were to arrive, Linda yelled at me from the dining room; she never raises her voice so I knew something was not right.  When I came into the room she was laying of a couch in the adjacent living room.  One look and I knew we were not in Kansas, Toto.  She was flushed, broken out in a cold sweat, shivering and complaining of chest pains.

Fast forward:  The paramedics have Linda on a gurney with all sorts of monitors attached and headed toward the door.  Once I made sure the stove and oven were turned off and my cousin was on his way to stay with mom until my daughter and her husband arrived we began our trip to the hospital.  I decided to drive behind the ambulance for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which was to give me some “think time.”  Additionally, I knew I wanted to call our daughter to let her know, sans certain details, what was going on and what to expect when she arrived in Princeton.

The EMTs were very reassuring that the EKG did not indicate that Linda was having a heart attack but they could not be sure.  They said that they did not see a need to make the run using the siren and lights since they were beginning to get her stabilized.  As we drove the twenty-five miles to the Evansville hospital through a rain and windstorm that has not been seen since Noah’s day, I tried to keep up with the ambulance as I hydroplaned through stoplights turned yellow.  I kept my focus on the ambulance’s break lights and the emergency lights.  I figured that if Linda’s condition changed, those would be the first indicator I would have.

As we came slipping and sliding into the ambulance entrance to the Emergency Room, I pulled into the first available parking spot and made a dash to the back of the ambulance as they unloaded Linda’s gurney.  I could tell immediately that she was feeling better–not good, just better.  She said the oxygen seemed to lessen the pain.

After multiple tests, x-rays, and constant monitoring by a group of very professional and considerate ER people the doctor concluded, based on a process of elimination, that Linda definitely did not have a heart attack but could not rule out a heart problem altogether.  He indicated, after getting a thorough inventory of our life experiences over the last few months that the problem might well be some sort of muscular-skeletal strain brought on by stress.

Relieved, I said that Linda just needs to drink a little more.  It doesn’t change the situation but at least you don’t give a damn about it for a while.  Everyone in the room laughed and then the doctor delivered the line of the day.  If it is not the lyrics to a country song, it needs to be.

“God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.”

After making the phone calls to all the kids and letting them talk to Linda making sure I wasn’t candy coating the situation, we drove back to Princeton–much slower than the trip three hours earlier.

We arrived back at my mother’s house and, as expected, Cass and Craig had picked up the ball and were running with it.  Thanksgiving dinner was on the table just two beers after we walked in the kitchen.  I love the relationship we have with our kids and their spouses.  Good-hearted kidding and true conversations are always part of the meal ritual and yesterday was no exception.  We laughed and cut up even when a glass of Pinot Noir went all over the deviled eggs, dumplings and gravy–may have even improved the taste, if that is possible.

Everything I have written thus far is just the backstory for what is really on my mind–the thoughts I had on the drive to the hospital and the reason I am unable to sleep.

When Linda and I decided to get married, we both saw the decision as more than a naive, romantic idea.  We both survived bad marriages and were not wearing rose-colored glasses.  I think it is safe to say that we both knew the kind of life we wanted as individuals.  After dating for two years and involving our three children in our activities, our multiple conversations left no doubt that our two visions for life were not just compatible but dove-tailed so well that we could expect synergy to impact our ability for reaching our goals in life.  Damn, were we ever right.

Back in 1994 when Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer, we were just entering the 2nd phase of our married life, the one where you have figured out what works and start to see the material, spiritual, and family rewards of hard work and playing by the rules.  Our three oldest kids were college-aged and our youngest was doing exactly what she was supposed to do–ride the emotional roller coaster of middle school.  At this point in our lives we were confident that the light at the end of the tunnel was not a train.

When the doctor told us that Linda had cancer we first cried.  Next, we did what we have always done.  We held each other, then sat down and talked.  Once we figured out the nuts and bolts of how we would finish raising and educating our kids if she did not survey the cancer we looked at each other, smiled, nodded and without saying a word, decided to kick the cancer in the ass.  We would do whatever we had to do to beat it and we did.

We are now just entering the 4th phase of our married life and yesterday a lot of memories came back from 1994.  The most frequently reoccurring thought was what life would be without Linda.  No longer were there considerations for taking care of our kids.  We are not wealthy but we want for very little.  For us, life is good.  Of course, I wish the stock market would come back a little more so that we could feel comfortable about spending a larger percent of our income on travel.  To be honest, outside of that time back in 1994 and yesterday, I have always assumed that I would die before Linda.  That is not based solely on a feeling but in part on family history and our respective current health conditions.

I suspect that feeling might be rooted in some sort of selfishness on my part. When you are dead, I doubt that there is any feeling of loss other than in those who are left.  In addition, I believe with all my heart that Linda would be able to cope with life without me much better than if the situation was reversed.  Like I said, that is probably just selfishness on my part.

One of my stock comments to doctors when I am having a check up of some sort is, “It would really piss me off to die at this point in my life.  Things are really getting good.”  On the drive back from the hospital it occurred to me that I need to revise that to say, “It would really piss me off if either one of us would die right now.  We are the reason that things are really good and getting better.”

When I mentioned this to Linda she squeezed my hand and said, “Yeah, we’re almost through paying our dues. It’s our time, again.”

I’m going back to bed.  I think I can sleep now. I’ll proof, edit and post later.





2 responses

31 12 2010

FYI, it is a country song. People Are Crazy by Billy Currington. And its good to hear your thoughts again, I have missed them!


1 01 2011


It’s good to hear from you. Like I said, I suspected it might be a country song lyric. Although the doctor did not mention pickup trucks, cheating, getting drunk or being in prison, so I wasn’t really sure.


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