I did not mean to let you hang off that cliff so long, dear readers.
When last we met here, I was sharing photos of a recent trip to my parents'. I had hinted at my father's extended lifespan, because I was marking the tenth anniversary of his heart transplant. (And let me go ahead and assure you that he is fine.) My cliffhanger was supposed to be wrapped up within a week, when I published another guest post from Dad reflecting on the past decade.
But then life intervened in a brutal and ironic way.
Dad is just fine. But Miss Chef has lost her mother to a heart attack.
It happened at work. Though she received immediate CPR and was stabilized at the hospital, she never regained consciousness. After a week, she was removed from respirator support and passed away peacefully in the presence of her family and her priest.
Yes, there was a history of heart problems. In fact, Miss Chef's mother and my dad had similar introductions to the world of cardiac intervention: at a young age (she at 19, he in his late 20s), they each contracted rheumatic fever, which left them with damaged mitral valves. My father's was repaired, Miss Chef's mom's was replaced. The difference is that Dad lived a normal non-cardiac life until he was fifty. Miss Chef's mom was always a bit weakened by her condition, and she had to undergo surgeries every ten to fifteen years to re-replace or repair her valves. Still, she raised two children, worked her way up from receptionist to CFO of a medium-sized manufacturing company, and was helping raise her three granddaughters. She was a very vital woman.
However, the other difference between our parents' stories is that Dad got a new heart at age 64. Miss Chef's mom was only 57, and never got that chance.
So that's why I disappeared for a couple of weeks. But I am home now, and for me at least, it is time to get back to Life As Normal. Miss Chef is still with her family, and her life is on hold for the moment. I am greatly looking forward to having her home again in a few weeks, if only to be able to take care of her as I wish I could do from a distance.
Part Two: Looking For Good News
In the meantime, I'd like to share a few pictures I took of the one good thing to come out of this great loss--I got to spend a lot of time with Miss Chef's family. While she has never told her parents about us, her dad adores me, and her brother and sister-in-law do know, and have accepted me fully--especially after the last couple of weeks.
As part of that benefit, we got to play with the kids a lot.
In the snow.
The funeral was held in Michigan, during the most recent cold snap and snowstorm. My first reaction, upon stepping out of the airport, was "It's like being home!" But that only lasted a couple of days.
Fortunately for the Alabama-born and bred children, Miss Chef had thought to buy them some winter gear, which they eagerly donned as soon as it came out of the bag.
After too many days of 13-degree temperatures and squeaky snow, the thermometer crept up above 20 degrees the afternoon of my departure. It seemed everyone was eager to get outside and make snow angels, have snowball fights, and hop on the snowmobiles.
|Look at those snow-caked gloves!|
|Miss Chef takes the snowmobile for a spin in the front yard.|
At least one Alabama girl would have preferred to watch it all from the warmth of the farmhouse!
Ah well. Here are some other, indoor pictures from the night before, at a birthday party for yet another of the multitudinous relatives I was busy memorizing that weekend. (Miss Chef's mother was one of a dozen children, and her father has three siblings...almost all of whom live within 20 miles of each other.)
|Miss Chef corrupts the children.|
|Truth be told, it was the eldest, at left, who suggested pool.|
|She didn't need to know it was the wrong end of the mic boom.|
Hopefully, the next post will be Dad's, which I know he's been working on for a while now. But for now, life's progress seems a bit less predictable than usual.
Hug your loved ones today.