Monday, December 31, 2018

Uncle Terry finds peace

Sometime around Thanksgiving we found out that Uncle Terry was in hospice care. He had exhausted his cancer treatment options and was in his final days.

It was incredibly sad, but also completely expected. Uncle Terry had been battling cancer for nearly two years. It all started when a stranger found Uncle Terry slumped over in his truck on the side of a St. Louis expressway. 

The news from that first hospital stay was bad. Uncle Terry had stage four brain and lung cancer. He fought hard for more than a year when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Everything was stacked against him.

Still, he fought as long as he could. Maybe it was the soldier in him that kept him fighting. He defied all expectations until his body could take no more. We received the call that he died on Saturday, December 22. 

Between the holidays and the government shut down, scheduling a military funeral took longer than normal. Aunt Mary was able to finalize a December 31 funeral. We all gathered in St. Louis for a really funny memorial service featuring by Star Trek and Winnie the Pooh and Aerosmith. We laughed through our tears. It was a wonderful way to say goodbye to Uncle Terry.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

And we have a winner!

The girls golf awards event was delayed. At the end of a match, the Varsity coach fell getting into the team van. She drove the team back to the school before deciding that she needed to go to the emergency room. The next day the team discovered that their coach broke her ankle. The original awards dinner was delayed until after the coach healed. 

When the team got together, it was like a reunion. The seniors talked about college applications and senior pictures. The freshman worried about their first finals. The parents wondered how the semester semester went by so quickly. 

The coaches did a lovely job talking about each player. They had special photo albums for each girl. There was a lot of laughing as the coaches and girls told stories.

The coaches ended with two awards. The MVP award went to the brunette twin's partner. She was a senior who mentored the brunette twin throughout the season. We were thrilled when she won. When the Varsity coach called the name of the other award winner, we all clapped -- then it dawned on me. The brunette twin was the winner. 

We were so excited for her. She really really liked being on the golf team. She was thrilled to be on the Varsity team. Now all her hard work was recognized. It was a terrific way to end her first season.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

I know what I want to do

The blond twin didn't want to leave the hospital. She was fascinated with everything going on. She asked a million questions of the staff. She liked all the hospital action.

We were sitting at dinner when she announced that she wanted to be a nurse. She wanted to work on a pediatric hospital floor. We talked about all the options nursing provided from hospitals to schools to becoming a nurse practitioner. She had a dozen questions for every topic. 

The brunette twin said she still didn't know what she wanted to do when she grew up. I said, "You're a freshman. You have plenty of time. And, let's try to figure out what you want to do without going to the emergency room."

Monday, December 10, 2018

From now on we lie

No one ever looks at the girls and guesses their real age. They have always seemed older than their calendar age. 

When Daddy brought the brunette twin to see her sister before her surgery, they were stopped at the security desk. The officer said, "How old is she?"

It turned out that they were not letting anyone under 18 on the pediatrics floors due to the flu risk. I completely understood the logic. There were children with compromised immune systems on all the pediatric floors. Since the girls started school, we knew that schools were a petri dish of diseases. 

Still, I was angry that the brunette twin wouldn't see her sister before she went into surgery. The surgeon told us that they could talk before surgery. We were all able to see the blond twin shortly before she went into the operating theater. The brunette twin was relived to see her sister. We were happy that they were able to talk.

We were sitting at dinner talking about the day when the brunette twin said she was really scared while waiting in the lobby. She was alone and scared and wondering what was happening with her twin. My heart hurt for her. I cannot imagine what was going through her head.

I looked at Daddy and said, "From now on we lie about how old they are." While I understood the reasons for the age ban, I was not ever going to let anything come between the girls again. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

I didn't die

When they arrived at the hotel, Daddy mentioned that the blond twin said her side hurt. I replied that she had a tumbling lesson earlier and probably just pulled something.

Before the concert, the blond twin mentioned her side ache again. I gave her some pain killer and she joined the other girls to eat pizza. She spent hours dancing and singing and taking selfies. 

Back at the hotel she ate more pizza and went into her room. About 1:00 a.m., I shut down all the girls. I said, "I'm waking everyone up at 9:00 a.m. so you can eat the free breakfast. It's time to get to sleep." Now, there wasn't a moment when I really thought they would go to sleep. I just wanted them to be quiet so I could get some sleep on the living room couch. 

I heard some strange sounds from her room about 2:00 a.m. I convinced her to sleep in the living room with me so her friends could get some sleep. I pulled out the sofa bed and we snuggled until she fell asleep. When she woke up at 4:30 a.m., she said she was freezing. I felt her forehead; she was burning up. It was then that I realized that she was really, really sick. I said, "Let's get more blankets on you." She said, "Mom, I think it's my appendix. We googled the symptoms." 

She fell asleep and I searched the symptoms. I thought it might have been her appendix, but I didn't think it was really a problem for teenagers. It turned out I was really wrong. The item that really caught my eye was that acute appendicitis was most common in people between ten and 30 years old. The blond twin was a prime target.

She fell asleep again while I texted Daddy to say that she needed to go to an immediate care center. By the time he arrived at the hotel, we decided she needed to go to an emergency room. They went to the hospital in our neighborhood while I stayed with the other girls at the hotel. 

By the time I delivered all the girls back to their homes, the blond twin had been in the emergency room for several hours. Daddy and I spoke on the phone, so I always knew what was happening. I arrived at the emergency room to find that the test results were coming back. The emergency room doctor said it was her appendix and it needed to come out immediately.

She was considered a pediatrics case, even though she was what we considered "fully grown." She was transferred to a pediatrics hospital where the surgeon was waiting when we arrived. The blond twin was in surgery shortly after we arrived. She was out of surgery quickly.

The first person we sent to the recovery room was the brunette twin. She really needed to see her twinnie. I was the second person to see the blond twin. She was sleeping when I arrived. When she opened her eyes, the first think she said was, "I didn't die Mom. I'm ok." She closed her eyes and I cried tears of fear and joy. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Jingle all the way

Months and months ago, I bought tickets to take the girls and some friends to the B96 Jingle Bash. I reserved a hotel room near the venue so we could make it an overnight adventure. The girls were so excited about the concert, but they couldn't tell anyone.

Two of the girls going to were not going to receive their tickets until just before the concert. The tickets and overnight adventure were part of their Christmas presents. The day before the concert, the last girl received her present.

There had to be a million and a half messages flying across all their devices. Every detail was under discussion. Our girls were busy making plans with their friend groups and with each other. 

They were all very excited as they arrived at our house. Given all the stuff they were bringing, you might have thought that they were going away for a week, rather than just one night.

At the hotel, the girls settled into their rooms and started getting ready. We had plenty of snack to manage their munchies. We ordered pizza just before heading to the concert. 

I didn't actually watch the concert. I brought a book. I sat on the floor near reading my book while the concert raged in the arena. Once in a while I stepped into the arena to see a specific artist. For the most part, though, I just read.

The girls were ready to leave the concert before the last act finished. They were disappointed with her performance. They were also tired. It had been a long night, and they were ready to start the next part of the party back at the hotel.