thanks, giving, taking, illness, happiness

Thanksgiving is come and gone. There was a lot of food. There were visits from family and friends. Yesterday I worked for ten hours straight and didn’t even take a bathroom break. It was surreal. It was a nice day.

This morning we woke up with Nels in the bed (in between Ralph and I – how did that happen again?), and a curious kitty visiting each member of the family one by one with his snow paws until we all gradually had our eyes open and we all had our arms around one another. What’s nice is we get two more mornings like this in the weekend, mornings without Ralph having to rush off to work and me having to get the kids to school.

It seems there were a few people out for walks today as the weather was brilliant and clear. Our foursome walked a little under three miles and it was such a nice time talking with the family – well, especially Ralph who’s looking so especially handsome these days for some unknown reason – and viewing Skanky the Seal in the Hoquiam River. I finished Sophie’s two skirts but lost energy before I could start sewing the dresses.

My parents arrived back home today after their Thanksgiving at the family’s Mason Lake cabin. It was so nice to see them again tonight although being around them fills me with inner sadness I dare not show them. My father is having trouble swallowing because (we think) of the tumor growing just behind his stomach. He kept putting his hands to his face because his new medicine irritates the lining of his throat and mouth. I think it’s like having one’s entire mouth be a canker sore. The steroids are making him sleep poorly. He talked about waking up at 3 AM and being wide awake. I hated the thought of him being alone and wish I was in the house to sit with him. Despite all his suffering he was gentle and sweet tonight, chasing my children and hugging them. We talked about a recent ridiculous letter to the editor and laughed and laughed.

My mom was also bad off. We talked about some of the things bothering her for a while and she was, uncharacteristically, not able to feel better by the time I left. It isn’t just my father and his illness, but also some of her experiences with her own father and two of her siblings this weekend. I think my mom’s world is slowly crumbling in more than one way. I obviously know a lot more about her situation but there is no point to writing more about it here. These days I’m out and about I really will experience what people call “a chill around my heart”. When this coldness creeps into me it stays with me for hours at a time, even if I look like a loving mother or caring wife or a happy friend – I still feel it there.

My children are a saving grace. They give me focus, direction, and ground me in reality. Life goes on and my children are evidence. They are irrepressible, at turns incredibly wise and ridiculously irreverent, made of sturdier stuff than the rest of us. Give them a nap, tell them a story, feed them, wash their hands or play a game of 20 Questions and they are as good as new, able to handle a hike or bad news or a visit to the hospital or help with chores. They give us lessons in survival and unconditional love. I’m not sure what I’d do without them. I’m glad I have them.

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