This isn’t a blog post about a gal who just turned 40 and it isn’t going to tell you to eat this, not that, to meditate for this long and do yoga this many times a week.
This post is about the year in which I turned 40 and how I intend to make the best of the next 40, so awesome that the year in which I turn 80 a sequel must be written.
This is not just a year in review. I torture people with those one-pagers with a handful of photos every Christmas card season, but not this year. More on that later.
This is an “I can’t believe all of this shit happened AND it’s not even mid-December.”
So, let’s work backwards….
In December I had to have my nose cauterized twice after some majorly long and disgusting nosebleeds, but enough about that.
On November 14th I received a message via the “patient portal.” Heaven forbid the doctor’s office, nurse or nurse practitioner call you herself. It’s the doctor’s office way of communicating in 2017 – you log in to the portal with yet another username password combination you either forget every time, or have memorized so you don’t have to – and read a lot of medical jargon that ends with: “looks like fibrosis of the liver, let’s draw more bloodwork and scan again in a year.” Fabulous.
Wait!! I am barely a drinker so nothing, and I mean nothing, should be wrong with my liver of all things. Come on, I drove the sober ride home program for all four years of college. What??
October was chock full of a jaunt to the Mayo Clinic full of three days of testing, four flights total and all to be told “Well, you’re not worse, but you are no better either!” Again, what?
In late July I found myself back to work “fully part-time” as Do More with LES has returned to the real estate world and I am a Team Assistant to The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates, which is where I began my real estate career, so I feel I’ve returned “home” – every pun intended. Doing a little bit of everything from meeting the contractors, to coordinating the mass mailing of 288 holiday gifts to satisfied buyers, sellers and referrers. I am loving it! Looking to buy or sell your dream home in 2018, give us a call, the team is absolutely terrific! (And I don’t get paid to put that here!)
Skipping around a bit, in late May, early June, after Mayo but before Aunt Betty’s passing, I snuck down to Orlando, Florida to attend the Adult Congenital Heart Association’s annual conference. This was precisely the break I needed. Let me back up a little more.
Father’s Day weekend in June I spent holding vigil at the Montgomery Hospice, a place I pass a thousand times and think “oh the sadness that must come out of that place.” That weekend I lived it. I was there for and with my dear Aunt Betty, just as she was present practically every single time I landed in a hospital throughout my entire life. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her I was there or why, but I know she knew. She could not have asked to have been surrounded by more love and laughter. As awful as was the outcome was, our family had a lot of fun and laughs reminiscing that weekend.
In May, departing on Mother’s Day together with my mother, I made the journey to the medical mecca that is the Mayo Clinic for the first time. I prefaced the news when telling friends that I was headed there with “yeah, no kid born with a congenital heart defect wants to “grow up” to be “so sick” that she has to go to the Mayo Clinic,” but – I was flattered and excited and nervous and anxious to get there as the place has an excellent reputation. To say it met and exceeded our expectations is an absolute understatement. The travel logistics aside, the city of “Rah Rah Rochester,” Minnesota is beautiful. Friendly people, a lot of history and great blue skies made it just awesome. We spent Mother’s Day as tourists in Ubers, on trolleys and mostly on foot. It is hard not to want to exercise when it’s so pretty there and you are there to meet with cardiologists after all!
April was it, the start to the year that I was turning 40. I was born in 1977 on Easter Sunday. My birthday brings in springtime and the most gorgeous time of year. This year my birthday was on a weekday, so we partied the Sunday prior which was Palm Sunday. I didn’t want a big bash, I hate surprises, and I don’t drink so my husband put together a small brunch at a great venue in the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner, overlooking the water in Alexandria. I bought a new dress online, and it fit, so party we did!
Lucky me! Everyone I wanted to be surrounded by was there to celebrate with me. Friends, colleagues, my college “sweetheart,” two brothers, friends and their cute kids, a brother from another mother, even my dear friend and client who had just had her hip replaced! And at the very end, my friend who is a priest and her wife showed up, complete with collar and palms! Just a terrific morning!
That afternoon we went straight to the hospital to visit my grandfather. I thought he would want to see me that dressed up, so off we went! He was as fine as could be, albeit a bandaged arm from a failed surgery attempt, and he said “Hey, sorry I missed your party!” I laughed and shrugged it off and gave him the okay and my forgiveness. I knew he would have been there if the situation were different. It was that day that the nurses told his daughters and me, only because I was hovering, that it was time to call in hospice and that he would likely not return home.
Well, having the nurse mother I do, that nurse was mistaken. He returned to his condo under hospice care, surrounded by his three daughters, me and his wife. He passed just a few days later. Selfishly, I am glad it was not on my birthday, as I’m not sure I would have ever recovered from that. I am blessed to have been close by in his final hours and playing a role in overseeing his best loved ones saying their goodbyes.
It was an hour or two after shift change… We had Comfort as our overnight aide tending to Grandpa as his daughters and granddaughter slept on the living room floor around his bed. We shared good stories and lots of laughs and looking back it seemed to over too soon. Then, of course, the real work began.
Grandpa had family far and wide and friends all across this great country. He was a terrific, honorable and noble man who could charm anyone in his path, whether in uniform at the U.S. Capitol or in his scooter zipping around his condo. Always a collared shirt, always a smile, and most definitely always a good story. He is sorely missed.
For a week in January, Inauguration week, to be exact, my husband took a week of vacation days that were dubbed “use or lose.” Then he was called in for a very important meeting. Ironically it was the same day that I had stayed home sick. I came home early from work and he was headed in. Then, just like that, he returned home, threw a glossy folder down on the end table next to the couch where I was conked out. That was it. Bam! All he said was “February 10th will be my last day.” Holy schnikes, WHAT?! Yeah – so that was pretty much the beginning of our 2017, the end of frivolous spending and the reason there’s no glossy photo collage of his sweet daughter and our sweet dog! (but if there were, it would look like this!)
Sneaking in one more months’ worth of newsworthy fun, I did participate in the Women’s March on January 21st with my mom, sister, cousins, friends and millions of other fabulous females, and let’s not forget Fallopia herself!
All in all, what a year! I still have my health. I have new friends & old and very dear friends and family far and wide. I know many who are fighting too many battles and many fighting the good fight. Despite all of this I really do try and find silver lining. So, it goes without saying, no fun picture-filled card this year. Nothing too personal. All the very best to you and yours. I hope your elf has remembered to relocate all these crazy nights and I hope your way is lit by all eight candles this Hanukkah season & I hope Santa finds his way down your chimney.
Here’s to a peaceful and positive 2018 for ALL!