Silly me. I tempted fate. I claimed I had flown across country with my infant for the first and last time.
Dare the universe and usually you end up losing.
So here I go again next week. Flying to San Antonio to the bedside of my favorite relative, to whom I owe a huge debt, while she recovers from a surgery. That's the short story, here's the long one.
As many of you who read this and know me are aware, my father died of pancreatic cancer in 2008. He struggled for a mere 6 months before quitting all treatment and going home to die in November. 4 months before he was diagnosed I happened to have triplets. Leaving infant triplets at home alone with their father was really not realistic for most of the time, so I was able to visit twice for a weekend each. My aunt, his little sister, was there for him. She spent weeks visiting. She attended doctor meetings, studiously taking notes. She kept him company in the hospital. And, in the end, she held his hand as he died, 8 hours before I arrived fresh off of Thanksgiving weekend.
I owe this woman for doing my job for me when I could not. I owe her a debt of gratitude I can never repay. I owe it to her to be there for her like she was for my father. And so I will.
Monday she is undergoing a femoral endarterectomy. And some iliac thing. You doctors understand. A possible bypass. Her left leg has no circulation, the right still might be ok, but they at least need to go in and scrape all the plaque off the inside of the left femoral artery. Which sounds disgusting. She has every risk factor on the list practically: lifetime smoker, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inactivity and family history of heart disease. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. She is in so much pain right now but I think she doesn't know how in danger she is otherwise. Perhaps it's intentional on her part. In any case, after this surgery they say she needs 3 days in the hospital and 5 days off her feet at home. Her family lives near the hospital, so they can cover that shift. Once she gets home, though, all she has is a husband. A husband who neither desires to be nor is a caretaker.
So here I come to save the day. Yes, I like to save the day. I hope I can come and entertain her, feed her, clean her house and generally pave the way for her to have an easier life for a couple of weeks. I will only be there 3 days so I'd better work fast. But I love this woman as if she were my own mother. In fact I spent a great part of my childhood wishing she were. She is a lovely, gentle, genteel, southern woman with a tendency to drink too much and worry herself to death. I've spent a lot of time with her but not in the last few years, for obvious reasons. What I get out of this visit is time with her and a chance to do with her what I couldn't with my own father. She is the last repository of family history, recipes, names, funny stories and pride. I want to sit and absorb all I can because who knows when I'll get another chance? She is only a couple of years younger than my dad and he died 2 years ago.
This is going to be another emotionally rough trip but thank goodness I get to stay in her house and I don't have to tote the kid around in the heat and stink bug craziness. I hope the logistics being better makes all the difference. I hope that being aware that there will be some crazy emotional crap going on will also help. And good god, I hope the boy sleeps on the plane this time. Benadryl anyone?