Isn’t it funny how much can change in the blink of an eye? My grandmother, who we call Mama Kitty, is nearly 92-years old. She is just about the sweetest, cutest thing ever, and has been all of her life. She’s a looker, a stunning beauty with an Elizabeth Taylor smile. Her husband (we called him Big Frank) passed a few years ago, and since then she’s lived in a retirement community where she reunited with old friends and made many new ones.
Until recently. Recently, she went downhill fast. Not physically. Mentally. Dementia. She moved to assisted living and within a few more days was in a nursing home. Because of her diminished capacity, she would get up at odd hours and forget her walker. Several falls later, she was also in rough shape physically.
All of this came to a head a week before the wedding of her second youngest grandchild, an event she’d been really looking forward to. It broke her children’s hearts. My mother, aunt, and uncle. It broke all of our hearts.
Then the doctors figured out that she was taking one medication too many and one too few. Within days of the adjustments, her mental acuity started returning. Not to her 27-year old self, but definitely to her 91-year old self, which was plenty good enough.
And three days later, she was here:
The belle of the ball, enjoying a wedding celebrating her life and the contribution of her love to the world.
So we got to enjoy her, and that was wonderful. Also wonderful? Spending time with our far-flung cousins.
Alabama, Michigan, Illinois, San Antonio, Chattanooga, Nowheresville. Not pictured: my brother (his wife is on the far right), and the photographer (the partner of my cousin on the far left).
How is it that life can speed by so fast that we spend more time with strangers than with those we love the most? We grow up and leave the nest. We raise our children and they leave ours. And at some point we begin counting the moments until we spend time with them all again, measuring our life by that precious time. That precious, precious time.
Meanwhile, I’m working my way through the revisions on Hell to Pay. I’m 10% of the way through. It is my hope to do this revision “one pass,” which is about the same time commitment as writing the original draft. I’m thrilled that it is starting to sound like the first two Emily books. Starting to sound like me.
Here’s your weekly dose of wildlife camera:
I promised Eric I wouldn’t post the one it shot of him in his skivvies when the sprinklers malfunctioned against our window at midnight and he ran outside to deal with them. The funniest part of it was that I fell back asleep and forgot about it, so when I checked the wildlife cam the next day I freaked out, thinking a strange man was running around outside our house (we are miles from the nearest tiny town, and in the center of many acres of private property) in the middle of the night naked. Or nearly naked, anyway, which was bad enough. Yikes. And then right before I ran frantically to Eric to show him the intruder on film, I had an “oh yeah” moment.
Weddings, words, wildlife cams. It’s interesting isn’t it, this perspective on what’s important and how it’s most clear when we miss it. Family. Home. Our passions. God’s creatures. We appreciate most what we miss or fear we’ll lose. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and familiarity breeds contempt, or so they say. I wouldn’t go so far as contempt on the familiarity part :-), at least not for myself, but certainly I am guilty of the former. I miss my family, all so far away. And where are the dear people I love most to spend time with? Our children (Houston, College Station, St. Louis, St. Croix), our parents (North Texas and Florida), our siblings (Sweden and Tennessee), cousins (see above), grandparents (San Antonio, North Texas), aunts and uncles (Austin, North Texas, San Antonio).
While we have found our peace and way in Nowheresville and Wyoming, where not a one of them are.
So here’s to those rare moments when we connect to what is most important to us (and leave our phones in the car): the people, passions, places, and (in my case) pets that enrich our lives. But mostly the people, because when I stop and let myself really feel it—feel it down to marrow of my bones—I realize that my life is pretty meaningless without them.
That’s all I’ve got,