Archive for November, 2010
She was exactly 11 hours and 20 minutes old. This morning as I do every year on my daughter’s birthday I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. Although each year added creates a distance from the “main event” of the memorable Thanksgiving holiday, I mark off each memory and smile just as I did then.
Tim won a turkey from the Knights of Columbus yearly turkey raffle at Blessed Sacrament and decided that we should have his family over for the holiday meal. He asked them all, and when he had their RSVP’s in hand he informed me that I would not have to do a thing; he would be cooking the turkey. Thanksgiving was November 28th that year, and as all the “old wives” were telling me the first baby is ALWAYS late. My due date was December 2, 1985.
What was I thinking? Obviously I wasn’t because there I was with my little helper. Maureen. baking pies on Thanksgiving Eve. After the pies were done, I decided that the kitchen floor needed mopping immediately. Forget that Tim would be cooking all day Thursday and the floor would undoubtedly need mopping again. On second thought, maybe I was guarding against a dropped turkey or some such other disaster. I should have known this task was not a good idea when Mo (Maureen) had to bend over repeatedly to pick up the mop and/or bucket as I laboriously worked from one end of the kitchen to the other. Anyone who has had that first baby will see this for what it was:nesting on steroids.
Thanksgiving Day dawned bright and early with frost definitely on the pumpkin. Tim’s turkey that year was exquisite and he handled the cooking quite well. For some reason, he retired that year. The family arrived and just as we sat down to dessert, my mother-in-law Jeanne asked me if i was okay. I asked why and she said that my face was as red as the jumper I was wearing. i told her that now that she mentioned it my stomach was cramping fiercely. All the women but me flew into action knowing that Katie Anne was on her way. They pushed us out the door telling us to forget about the dishes and Mo and Lady the dog. They would handle everything.
We arrived at MacDonald House in a record fifteen minutes. Tim says twelve minutes, but I have really never thought that humanly possible. As we entered with our portrait of a turkey designed by Mo, Tim’s pom pom shaker and our mix tape of Led Zeppelin tunes, we were prepared to spend the night awaiting Katie’s birth. One resident had other ideas. She told me that I needed to go home, put my feet up, have a glass of wine, relax, and I would come back tomorrow to have my baby. When she left the room, I told Tim that there was no way that I was leaving that hospital. Luckily, the nurse who patted my hand told me that I was going nowhere. She had already called my obstetrician.This vignette happened at 11:30 pm. Katherine Anne Ferris was born at 4:11 am November 29.
During my stay in the hospital, I dreamed of that piece of pumpkin pie I left on the dining room table. When Baby Kate was settled in with her Mamaw and big sister, I went to the refrigerator where there was nary a crumb of ANY dessert left. When I turned toward Tim, his response was”I didn’t want it to spoil”. I was gone for two days! I immediately remembered that we had the sweetest “little punkin” who would be with us each and every day. And KT, you knew I would say it didn’t you?
Two years ago today I started a journey that not only changed my life, but also the lives of my family and friends. Looking back, it seems hardly possible that two years have passed since that eventful day. When I woke up in December after spending 20 days in ICU, I could not walk, use my left hand, or stay awake for more than a few hours.
Days, weeks, and months went by and I although some days the steps seemed very small I continued to progress . My amazing friends and family have stuck by me the whole way.The staff at MetroHealth everyone included still tell me at every opportunity that if anyone was going to pull through they thought it would be me because of the wonderful support group that called, visited, and sat by my side during my recovery.
And, that brings me to the perspective of my post today—friends. Before going further, I want to explain that family are friends and friends are family. The two have been interchangeable all my life. My mother fostered that mindset from the time I was small. Since I was an only child, she made sure that I was surrounded by cousins and friends on weekends and in the summer so that I would not become bored and the handful that I could sometimes be. Ask Tim, he can tell you a few of m “brat” stories as he call them.
When facing a health crisis, I cannot stress enough how important a support system becomes and is. I am not going to chronicle those important people in this post because I wouldn’t do anyone justice, but I am sure that through the coming years I will write about many of them and those i don’t will know that the reason I do not write a vignette about them is probably because the connection is cherished in my heart and I feel I do not have the words to properly express the encounter.
Being a friend to someone who is facing a chronic illness can be a challenge, but not if we each realize that one in three of us will face such an illness or be a bystander to someone we love faces the challenges of a health crisis. Dropping a card in the mail, stopping for a visit at the hospital, taking a meal for everyone to share when the patient comes home , many, many things that take a lot of time or just a smidgen of time can make someone’s day brighter and sunnier. I know because my days have been much fuller and richer by the random acts of kindness that I have received from friends.
Two years later, they are still supporting me with words of encouragement, conversations over coffee, and including me in projects and decisions they are making so that I can forget my limitations and focus on the possibilities of my life.
Thanks to Google, I was reminded of one of my favorite childhood authors Robert Louis Stevenson. What ten year old doesn’t love Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Kidnapped? But my true love was the poetry written by the man.
Again, thanks to Google I found “A Child’s Garden of Verses”. Someone, on my eighth Christmas, gave me an edition of that volume of poems and the memory of that gift sticks in my head like it was yesterday. The cover was pale green with pink ribbons streaming down the front and back of the book, and my rush to open presents stopped, as I took the time to run my hand over the silkiness of the cover. The real treat came that afternoon, when I sat curled in my favorite overstuffed chair with my collie,Duchess sleeping contentedly at my feet, and I cracked that oversized tome for the first time to experience the poems of RLS. The illustrations were memorable and when I read the poems again today those pictures of yesterday filled my head. Some time over the years, I lost my book of poems, but I never lost my love for the poetry.
I’ve provided links to three of my favorites for just a taste of his grasp of a young child’s curiosity. I would urge any one who has a young reader on their gift list this holiday season to consider choosing an author, 160 years young, who will undoubtedly still stoke the creativity of a child’s imagination for that someone special, eight or 10.