Last month, I flew to South Carolina to be with my mother for a few days. The intent was that I would be there for a week, but on or around Day 6, I decided to stay for a few days longer. When my Dad died last year, there was no surviving spouse, so I hadn't really considered the shock to the system when after the funeral, everyone who has gathered, returns to life and things get "back to normal."
A week after Jim passed, we definitely weren't back to normal. Pearl (my sister's dog) and I both sensed it. From Pearl's perspective, every time my mother would sit down, she would prop her soft head on my mom's feet and stay there. And if this isn't an endorsement to add a sweet Golden Retriever to your family post haste, I really don't know what is...
While I didn't prop my head on my mother's feet, I did sleep next to her for the next seven days and we did all kinds of important things together like re-arrange furniture, clean out closets, go to the DMV, swim at the YMCA, and sit in steam rooms. We also had a healthy dose of retail therapy when we bought mom a new computer, Apple TV, and dress:
And on a particularly melancholy day, we opted to stay in bed as I taught mom the art of live-streaming movies. Here we are watching one of mom's all-time favorite movies, "Cinema Paradisio."
Now way back in April, around the same time Carolyn and I had attended my Aunt Ann's spectacular 90th birthday bash, I had asked my mother if she would be interested in joining me on one of my quarterly business trips to Puerto Rico. Perhaps I would take another one of the kids, and they could have some quality time together while I worked? Mom agreed - and invited my Aunt Grace - and earlier this month, less than one week AFTER I had returned to Texas from South Carolina, my mom and her sister arrived in Houston:
They flew in on a Friday and we left on Monday for Puerto Rico, with Elizabeth in tow.
This trip was awesome, and will be the subject of a separate blog post. But what's important to note is that after a wonderful week in Puerto Rico - my mother decided to extend her trip to Texas for a few more weeks because Charlie was heading out of town on a Boy Scout camping trip with William - and I would be running solo with three of the kids. With school being out for the summer, and a particularly busy work schedule, I would gladly welcome my mom's help.
We arrived home from Puerto Rico late Friday night, and by Saturday night, Elizabeth had a violent case of the stomach flu. After staying up all night with her on Father's Day - I thought perhaps (please God, please!) it would be contained to *only* one child. She seemed better on Monday, and Tuesday morning, Aunt Grace flew back to South Carolina - while my mother, good to her word, remained here with us in Texas.
I continued to think that Elizabeth's illness over the weekend was an isolated event, until Wednesday afternoon when at around 1:35 PM - it hit me. As my insides were trying to get to my outsides, I wondered if maybe the two bouts were related? I didn't wonder long.
That evening, while Charlie was away at a sleep study for address what turns out is a severe case of obstructive sleep apnea, my mother came down with it.
(I call this mask, "Horton Hears A Who!")
Unbeknownst to us - my Aunt Grace came down with it in South Carolina at approximately the same exact time as my mother. By early Thursday morning, Carolyn had it. By Thursday afternoon, William - who was still at home and planning to leave for his camping trip Friday morning - came down with it.
By Thursday evening, only Charlie and Henry were unscathed. As I've written before, when your whole family is laid flat by the flu, and you're not ... well, it's kinda like staring down the barrel of a loaded shotgun. Unless you happen to have a Captain America'esque immunity force field that surrounds you. Which it would appear - as of this writing on Sunday night - Henry indeed does:
Friday morning rolled around and William was feeling better, so with fingers crossed, he and Charlie took off (in their own quarantined vehicle, as opposed to riding in the Boy Scout vans) for their nearly two-week camping trip to Colorado.
Whew, what a month!
I'm so grateful for the incredibly serendipitous timing of all these events ... our trip to Puerto Rico, the flu that wrapped up just in the nick of time to not prevent William's trip to Colorado, mom's ability and desire, to stay in Texas and help.
Although being here is a lot like being in a viral petri dish (as unfortunately, both my mother and Aunt Grace can avow), this house is also brimming with energy - love - and laughter. I'm hopeful that this grandchild-rich environment, along with bland foods like Saltines [the only food some of us can still tolerate] - is precisely what my mother needs. And if all else fails, Henry has promised that he'll live-stream Marvel movies with his Noni.
Mom has yet to see Thor.