December has proven to be an arduous month for us. We've been home in Mississippi just seven weeks and we've battled temporary amnesia we seem to be plagued with upon our returns each November: where is the shortcut to the airport? Wasn't there on that corner the restaurant we enjoyed last year? When did this road become a detour? Did Frank tell us he was moving? My gingko, taken in liquid form, isn't helping my memory any better than the capsules.
Then there're the decisions to make annually just before January when we want to schedule action: how to improve or upgrade our house. Let's face it folks, despite my boasting of living 4o more years, these decisions may curtail our lives considerably. All we've done these past years is shuffle the same furniture from one spot to the other,adding a few pieces here and there. Now we're ready to redesign our living pattern. And we can't decide which rug of the hundreds we'd like to live with for a decade or so! Decisions about redesigning the bathrooms leave us exhausted, design magazines lying like spilled toothpicks about the room; viewing bed frames on the internet until our eyes bulge; determining how to organize our precious junk-- I tell you, decisions are too much for our psyche!
The best decison came with celebrating our oldest son's birthday. He was born six days before Christmas. As the practice of overgifting on Christmas was not our choice, birthdays were and still are The Gift Giving Time. So despite his adult status, it was fun selecting his gifts and watching him enjoy the surprises as we've done in the past.
For a few years in his early teens, Jim always wanted a cheesecake for his special day. But only the cheesecake from the delicatessen of his choice. On one prior day to December 19 I made the purchase, took it home and placed it on the kitchen bar while I hung up my coat in the closet. Never did I think that Freckles would give Jim the worst gift. In the passing of two minutes, our Dalmatian couldn't resist the creamy cake in the box. He just swallowed it in a few gulps, leaving us with an empty carton.
We still laugh at that memory, and mourn the passing of this beautiful pet years later.
Then, unexpectedly, the shadow of disease darkens our doorway. My sister, living with us for a short time, receives the dreaded word that she has cancer. Just when we'd worked out a road map for her retirement. Helping her through two surgeries and impending chemo reminds us how precious life is and how easily cancer or another disease can redirect our lives. Richard and I have felt close to this disease with our friend Ed and my cousin Bobby and a number of other known friends and family battling for a few more years of life, feeling overcome by their fragility. Another cousin knows she has the disease but has chosen not to have any treatment, to enjoy the remainder of her life having a good time traveling and enjoying what is dealt. She plans to retire in nine more years. Perhaps she has the right attitude instead of putting those toxic chemicals into her body, reducing her to a wisp of a person, she's enjoying time she may never have again.
Our role as caretakers continue. First were the parents on both sides, now my only sister. I'll just dust off our cheerleader uniforms, pull out the pom-poms and practice the cheers.