Saturday, September 20, 2014

CANADIAN SOJOURN

I have safely returned from just under two weeks in Calgary, where I flew with my son Gilbert to help take care of my daughter Catherine, her new baby John, and the two older children, Maria Rose and Rae Maximilian.  We arrived in the evening and met little John, who is a placid, easy-going baby, with a personality that seems at least at first glance to be very similar to that of my husband.  He smiles, both awake and asleep, and I discovered a dimple in his right cheek when his smile is deep.

It was easy to see that we were needed.  Catherine isn't allowed to carry anything heavier than ten pounds, so everyone else became the porters of baby seats, baskets of laundry, dinners from the freezer, and children who needed to be removed to "quiet time."  A Home Health nurse was sent to change Catherine's bandages every other day, and the day after we arrived, her incision began to gush and we were told to get her to the emergency room.

Gilbert took over with the older children, and I took Catherine to the emergency room in a medical center undergoing reconstruction so that it was difficult to find where to park, where to go when we entered (there was blue and red electrical tape that showed you the path), and then we played an endless waiting game, rejoicing when we were finally called after several hours, only to be told to fill out some paperwork and sit back down to wait again.  Little John peacefully slept, nursed, or looked around for hours, and was the object of many smiles.  After four hours, Catherine was finally seen by an E.R. doctor, who said her incision is infected, took a swab to identify the culprit, and said he could just prescribe an antibiotic but he wanted her to wait to see one of the surgeons, and admitted that could take several hours.  We had arrived at 2 P.M., the doctor saw her at 6, and a surgeon finally saw her at 11.  While he was examining her incision, and pulling it about and re-bandaging it, I took John out in the hall since he had finally become a little fussy.
I walked him around for nearly an hour while he cried and I felt like joining in.

When Catherine was finally released from durance vile, I was told to go get the car and bring it around to the front entrance of the hospital.  By then it was midnight, and I asked if it would be safe to go out in the parking lot by myself.  The attendant laughed and said, "You're in Calgary; you don't have to worry about things like that."  What I had to worry about instead was how to get the car out of the parking lot where there was still snow left from an unusually early storm, put in the credit card--no, put in the ticket, then the credit card--and then drive around all the construction trying to find the way back to the entrance.  After entering another parking lot, driving the wrong way in still another, and finally circling the entire parking area, I got back to the hospital entrance, got Catherine and John into the car, and we headed back to the house.  Gilbert had called the hotel we were switching to and let them know we would be arriving late, and when we finally walked into the room it was exactly 1:00 A.M.

And since it is now time for me to get to bed so I can once again play with our church choir tomorrow, I shall leave the audience waiting for the next installment of our Canadian adventures.


Monday, September 1, 2014

CHAPTER 2

It has been even longer than normal since I last blogged and,
as usual, life has been busy and crazy.  I finally decided on the date to have the public unveiling of the mural painted in honor of my husband and the Grand Opening of my greeting card business.  Once we settled on a date, I was busy making cards, and the friend who did the reconstruction and has helped me get organized with my business helped get my new office ready and provided me with professional advice on what I needed to do to get everything in order. 

I sent out Evites, only to discover that the system still has a few glitches, so I did follow up phone calls, made an announcement at choir and gave out paper notices to those who requested them.  By the time I had to give a count to the caterer, I had about 130 people saying they would come.

On Monday, my fourth daughter Catherine, who was due in two weeks with her third child, was admitted to the hospital with severe abdominal pains.  They talked about inducing her, decided against it, and then she went into labor.  They thought it might be another ovarian cyst, so they wouldn't let her push during labor, but our eighteenth grandchild was born late that evening, a healthy 7 pounds, 15 ounces, and named for my husband.  

The next morning, they scheduled my daughter for surgery because the CT scan showed she had a total bowel obstruction.  While they had hoped to do laparoscopic surgery, it turned out that scar tissue from surgery she had at five had wrapped itself around 20 cm of her intestines and necrotized it, so they had to remove the entire section, but were fortunately able to stitch the two sections together. While she was in surgery, her mother-in-law called and said she thought I should come up as soon as possible since her house is all torn apart and she didn't know how long she could take care of the five and two year old.  So I changed my flight tickets and will be leaving much sooner than I had expected.

When I called my friend yesterday morning about the final details, she said that her husband, who had painted the mural, had just had a heart attack and had been taken by ambulance to the hospital.  He seemed to be stabilized, and she said she would try to stop by the house to do the unveiling and then go on to the hospital.

At 2:00 P.M. friends started arriving, and soon most of the 130 were here.  My friend was here just in time for the unveiling, we asked for prayers for her husband and Catherine, and then pulled the curtain on the 8 foot high mural.  It was greatly admired, a tribute to the artist's skill and my husband as well. 

Everyone circulated around the house, toured the new office, enjoyed the outdoors and the delicious food, and seemed to enjoy themselves.  And as I said just before the unveiling, those who were there are many of the people who have supported me, both when my husband was ill and after he died, and I wanted to thank them all for the prayers and love that have kept me going, not just surviving but thriving.

After the guests left, my two oldest daughters and their families enjoyed the leftovers for a late supper and rejoiced in the success of the celebration.  Three of our priests came: our first pastor, an Irish priest who was much beloved while he was here, and the two new associates, one from Nigeria and one from the Philippines, who was just ordained in May.
Their presence was a true blessing, and tied together my old life, when my husband was alive and our children were small, and my new life as a widow with grown children and 18 grandchildren, in a parish where I've lived for 30 years which seems to be coming alive even more fully with the presence of the Holy Spirit thanks to our three new priests (our new pastor was holding down the fort at the rectory and was unable to come).  God has been showing me more every day how many blessings he showers down on me, and as our Nigerian priest reminded us in his homily today on taking up our cross, that we are all called to glory at the end of our journey.  The gathering was a glimpse of the love and harmony that will be the eternal constant when we arrive!
The mural in honor of my husband
The parrots at the top, the gecko on the left, and the bird in the nest at the bottom, as well as the brick work, are all three-dimensional.