The year was a blur . . .
We spent Christmas 2009 with Tom in the hospital and began 2010 with him in the nursing home. He had taken a definite turn for the worst and wondered if he would ever come home again. God, in His mercy, answered our prayers for improvement and he came home the first week in February. His condition is definitely deteriorating, with bad days outnumbering good days. Still, we have had some great times together and with our family.
Marty, Kevin and their three came for a visit around Easter and we were able to spend a long weekend with them in November when we went to Raleigh so I could baptize Colin. Marty has introduced me to Skype so we can visit "face to face" to see how the boys are growing. Mallory is in her first year of high school--hard to believe. Being around the corner from Tommy and Liz means sharing ordinary days, holidays and birthdays. I have loved watching Jacob develop his musical abilities and the two younger girls learn how to play together. Drew is very consciencious with his school work, but not so much in keeping up with things. I wonder if we have an "absent minded professor" in the making. Sarah helps both her mom and her dad around the house and is really good with her little sisters. I haven't cooked with her so much this year, but hope to resume that soon. They are all growing up too fast to suit me.
Our holidays have been relaxing--for the most part. I've enjoyed baking and having food to share. We had friends for dinner a couple of weeks ago and they brought beautiful pictures of a three month trip they took to Alaska in the summer and another about ten day one to South Africa in the fall. The travelogue was especially meanigful to Tom and me since we don't travel so well any more. Christmas Eve we had Tommy's family, plus Liz's mom and dad for dinner; I took stollen and ham biscuits to add to Christmas breakfast at Tommy's and went back that night with a plate full of goodies. I have made enough biscuits in the last two weeks to feed a small army! It was the right decision to start ordering 25 pound bags of flour from King Arthur.
One of my favorite things about Christmas is mail time. I love seeing pictures of children and grandchildren; I love hearing what everyone has been doing; I love knowing of others' lives. I am reminded of how grateful I am for friends and how I need to pray for each one. We were saddened one day to see the names of two who had special places in our life in a list of memorials. One was the name of the lady who was my mentor/friend when I did my Christian Education fieldwork and the same lady who arranged the first date Tom and I had with each other. The second was a friend with whom we shared lots of memories.
We learned in early December, 1981 that I probably had breast cancer. We kept the news to ourselves except for family and very close friends until the Sunday after Christmas--I was scheduled for a biopsy on Monday. I remember sitting in the living room while usual, traditional things happened all around us. Tommy was twelve; Marty was eight. I was aware that I might be spending my last Christmas with them and I was both sad and afraid. Here we are almost 30 years later and I am more aware than ever that each Christmas could be the last one that our family is together--in spirit, if not in body. The difference today is that I don't observe; I don't just let it happen. I am determined to participate and love every minute. This year I am especially grateful of the rest from treatment; I am grateful for energy to go to the grocery; I am grateful that I have learned to sit while doing many kitchen tasks. I am grateful for friends and family who don't listen to me when I tell them "I can do it myself." I am grateful for a husband who keeps on trying and keeps on loving and keeps on remembering the vows we took.
There have been some rough days when Tom's illness has taken over, when he has been too confused to know the difference between day and night. He gets a new scrape or bruise almost every day. We get impatient with one another, but have learned to talk about things as best we can, say "I'm sorry" and move ahead. All the time I know that he probably won't remember what we said.
None of us knows what tomorrow will bring. This may be the last Christmas many of us spend with our families. We just don't know! It's as the gospel song says, "We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future." That is our hope; it is our assurance!