Laughter: Worth a Repeat

I’ve posted this image before, but it is one of my favorite candid shots of us all laughing. When we left, the waiter asked us if we always had this much fun together. We said yes. We were in Minneapolis for our grandmother’s funeral. She was 104. She would have appreciated the laughter.

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KindaSquare#10: Still the Ones I Love 50 Years Later

When they made them, they broke the mold.

Four of six sisters, Home, c. 1970

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KindaSquare #1 – Kinda Cute Kids, 1969

Waiting for the Parade to Start, 1969, J.P.W. Friederichs

One of my pandemic projects has been going through my dad’s slides and getting them ready to send off to be scanned, which I did on Monday. My dad took a lot of pictures of us growing up and looking at them brings back lovely memories. Just what I needed at the moment. I grew up in a small town in northwestern Minnesota, close to the North Dakota border, population about 8.000. Smalltown America in the 1950s and 1960s was not perfect and certainly not the idealized bucolic place to grow up promoted by many people who look to return to a time that never existed. But it was a good place to grow up. Life was slower. There were school and community activities.  Kids could roam the neighborhood or ride their bikes to the city swimming pool in the summer without adult supervision. Candy at the corner store cast a penny. We knew most of our neighbors and the “neighbor ladies” had coffee outside on summer mornings. It was good to get a glimpse of this former life, to restore a bit of faith in humanity.

Every summer, Crookston held an annual festival. In my day, it was called Pioneer Days. Now it was called Ox Cart Days. The Red River Valley (of the North) was famous huge carts pulled by oxen along the route between St. Paul, Minnesota and Canada. At least one summer, they had a kiddie parade as part of the festivities. I think this shot was taken in 1969, based on the age of my two sisters who are in the photo. Our neighbor Christie is on the left, then my sister Karla and my sister Ruth. I’m not sure about the other girl but I think it is one of the neighbors. Dressing up was always a fun way to spend part of a day. I was 15 at the time, much too old and dignified for a kiddie parade. Here’s to those days, my friends, we thought they’d never end.  (The image is not the best. I took a photo of the slide with my phone before I sent it off to be scanned.)

 

 

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Sanctuary Sisters

Sanctuary: A Feeling, not a Place

Sisters

 

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Life is a Crapshoot

I haven’t posted anything since December. For many reasons, my interest in blogging crashed. I have been in Southern California since mid-December. I came to celebrate the holidays with one of my sisters and her daughter.

I stayed to help care for my sister, who discovered on December 27th that her breast cancer had returned and metastasized to her hip. On December 29th, her pain and inability to move on her own were so great we had to call 911. Today, she is doing well, following surgery, radiation, and oral chemotherapy. But it hasn’t always been an easy journey. And now, I remain in Southern California under a stay-at-home order as Covid-19 forces much of the country to shelter in place. Who knows how long I will be here. I live in Virginia. The stay-at-home order there runs through June 10, 2020.

I’ll be honest. The last three months have been a challenge for all of us. Watching my sister in terrible pain. Waiting for the results of each test and scan. Waking up and wondering what day it was and what was procedure was scheduled. It was my choice to stay and be her caregiver, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Luckily, three of our other sisters and her son were able to come for shorter periods of time to provide support, advocate  for her care, and to give me a break.

Her recovery from her February 3rd hip reconstruction and replacement surgery to remove the tumor and the damaged bone has been slow but steady. Today, she was organizing one of  her kitchen cupboards, as best she could with her continuing movement prohibitions.

Now we are bound together by a virus. I was able to make two quick trips home, one in early January and one in mid-March. Returning to California on March 17th, just as many of the travel warnings and restrictions were being put in place, was an eerie experience. Empty airports, nearly empty planes. Confusion about the lack of interest on the part of anyone in the airports if I had traveled outside the US recently. No extra screening. I flew on Delta and have to say I have never been on such a clean airplane. I felt like the airline took the risks of spreading the virus seriously.

I’ve learned a few things over the last three months. I’ve learned how comforting the company of a cat can be when you are worried about someone in the hospital.

Cleo the Cat

I’ve learned that even with the best medical care (and her’s has been wonderful) patients need to have family or friends to advocate for them so they don’t get lost in the circus that can be modern medicine. I’ve learned I never want to be in a skilled nursing facility if I have a choice. I was so distressed by the facility she was transferred to after her surgery that I wanted to put her in the car and run away. I’ve learned how important family is and how comforting it is to know they care. I’ve learned to appreciate social media (in most of its forms) for providing immediate connections and information, both on a personal and a human level. And I’ve learned how glad I am that I am not going through the pandemic on my own, isolated in my house in Virginia.

Oh, and I have learned to admire the doctors, nurses, and other medical professional who don’t always get the credit they deserve. And my hat is off to anyone who is a caregiver. I have a new appreciation for the struggles long term caregivers must face.

I think I am ready to return to my blog. I don’t have access to my photo archives so who knows what sorts of pictures I will post.  Luckily, I have lots on my phone. In an age of uncertainty, I am going to try to put a bit of order back into life.

 

 

 

 

Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas

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