Thursday, February 7, 2013

Difficult to Write

Part One: The Bad News

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.


  1. Oh sad, sad news indeed. So sorry about Miss Chef's mom. She was so young. Too young to die. So happy for you and yours you have such an extended family surrounding you. It certainly helps. Courage, ma chère amie, courage. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  2. Sad, sad news. Mothers are irreplaceable, and Miss Chef is young to lose hers. Please pass on my hugs and condolences.

    Funerals can be real double-edged events, can't they? Sadness, of course, but also celebration of a loved one's life, and the special joy of being with family.

    Love and hugs to you both from all of us here at Mucky Boots. (And can I tell you how much I laughed at "purrito" and "catsserole"? Those are good puns for the partner of a chef!)

    1. Thank you.

      (I have to admit, "Purrito" is not my neologism, but I'll be happy to take credit for "catsserole.")

  3. I did worry when you fell off the radar ... and with good cause, I see now. So sorry for Miss Chef's huge loss. It sounds like her Mom made the most of her time here but it was much too short.

    Glad you had time with her family and got on so well. Snow is a great toy, isn't it?!

    1. Yes, it has been at least ten years since I've seen snow like that!

  4. I'm sorry to hear the sad news. Big ole hugs to Miss Chef.

  5. My heart goes out to Miss Chef - I cannot imagine the depth of her sadness and sense of loss. I know I shall be devastated when I lose my mother, which hopefully won't be for many years yet. As well, it is a difficult time for you, with her being gone and with a road ahead in which she will need much support. Big hugs to you both, and sending as much virtual strength and courage as I can muster.

    1. Thank you Claire. Yes, those are many of my own thoughts. I realized that being married means you get to go through this four times instead of just two. :(

  6. Alison, I am so very sorry. My thoughts are with Miss Chef and you.
    The kids are adorable.

    1. Thank you. They are shockingly cute. :)

    A little escapism for you, dear.

  8. Aww, I'm so sorry for Miss Chef's loss. I bet it is also difficult for her knowing that her Mother never truly got to know how special you really are to Miss Chef. I'm glad you're Dad seems to be doing really well, though and that you enjoyed some snowy time with Miss Chef's family.


    1. Thanks, Lisa. It's amazing how much I miss her mom, since we weren't exactly close. But you can't know someone for a decade without them leaving a bit of a hole in your life.

  9. Oh, oh, oh my god! I am so very sorry for your loss. How heartbreaking for Miss Chef to lose her mom at such a young age. Tears are in my eyes and I'm holding you all in my prayers.

    xo jj

  10. Hugs to you and Miss Chef. I know the heartache of losing your Mom and the only way I know to summarize it, is, it sucks.

  11. More hugs from me, too, to both of you.

  12. Yes I echo dilly polo
    Hugs all round my gal x

  13. Hey there, Sugar Bear. SO sorry to hear about Miss Chef's mom. Oh, that's a tough one. Sending you both hugs.


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