Friday, February 7, 2014

Being Thankful

Early this morning I found myself on the highway to Green Bay, headed for a lab appointment for a blood draw.  It's been a few months since I started the new thyroid medication and a slew of supplements and my doctor wants to check my levels. 

I asked Mom if she wanted to go along for the ride.  I dislike driving in traffic but I do better if I have someone along for moral support.   Mom agreed to ride shotgun.  Unbeknownst to me, she decided to meet me out on the end of her drifted driveway because she was afraid I'd get stuck.  We haven't had any snow for a week, but it was windy and well below zero last night and the light snow drifted in off the fields and stopped in her driveway.   I felt guilty as I watched her walk on top of the rock-hard banks on her way out to the road.  I could have made into her yard, but she must have thought otherwise. 

When we reached the main highway, I noticed something peculiar in the snow-filled ditch.  At first I thought it was one of those deer statue/target things people use for shooting practice because it was standing on all fours but at a crazy gravity-defying 45 degree angle.  Apparently it was a road kill which was subsequently pushed off the roadway by a snowplow and landed in the ditch in a macabre stance.  (Either that, or the deer simply froze to death in his tracks?)

I'd missed the rush hour traffic and our trip was uneventful, but the car didn't warm up until we were over ten miles from home.  I had the defroster blowing wide open on the windshield to stop it from freezing up, but the thermostat on the car wasn't registering any heat for miles.  I'm always amazed   vehicles will even start in this frigid weather.  

On our way to the Big City we had to navigate a series of 'roundabouts' or traffic circles. Mom has never driven to Green Bay or dealt with these new-fangled roads, so for her, this was an experience.

"I could never handle driving on this road," she exclaimed.  "Everything looks so different.  How do you know what to do?"

"I rode along with Carl and Joel a whole bunch of times until I had these goofy things figured out," I said.  "With a lotta luck, we'll get there in one piece."

"Well, I hope so, I don't understand why they had to build a road like this," she muttered.   "And do the seats in this car go up any higher?  I can barely see over the dash."

I was going to grab a pillow for her before I left home, but of course, I forgot it.  Mom is barely five feet tall and my Pontiac is low to the ground, with bucket seats, so she can't see much at all.  I felt bad about that, but she said it was ok.  "Just don't ask me to drive this thing."

I don't mind the roundabouts too much, at least not the one and two lane ones, but they've built some three lane ones that scare the daylights out of me.  Some people fly right through the roundabout and switch lanes mid-circle which is scary.   I will detour my route to avoid the nastier, heavy traffic ones if at all possible.  The only problem I had today was the snowbanks which have grown so high it is almost impossible to tell if a car is coming around the curve.  If we get another big blizzard, someone is going to have to grab a shovel and level the banks off.

I made it to the lab with a half hour to spare and Mom and I parked our behinds on the sofa in the waiting room.  The lab is a very small place set up for a few businesses on our current insurance plan. The nurse practitioner was someone I'd never met before,  a very tall, slender lady who looked to be in her late twenties.  She greeted us cheerfully and took me in right away.

While she was putting the tourniquet on my arm, she asked me about Mom.  I told her she was just along for the ride and at 93, this trip passed for entertainment for her. 

"93.  Wow.  And she's still doing good?" the NP asked.

"Yes, she's still living alone and taking care of herself," I said.

"That's wonderful.  I lost my mother last October.  She was 63." 

"Oh, I'm very sorry," I stammered.  

She was checking on which vein she wanted to assault and the tears had sprung to her eyes making her hesitate.

"She was my best friend.  I miss her so much," she said.  She recovered her composure much faster than I did and inserted the needle almost painlessly.

"I'm sorry.  It is so hard to lose our loved ones, " I said.  "My heart breaks whenever I think of losing my mom.  You have my sympathy."

We sat there in silence for a little while, waiting for my blood to fill the five vials.  I wished I had something more comforting to say to her, but I was at a loss.

"I'm feeling a little like a vampire today," she finally joked.  "Five vials is a lot."

"I probably haven't warmed up enough to get the blood flowing."

 But finally the job was done.  I paid the bill and thanked her warmly, wishing her a nice upcoming weekend.

I held Mom's hand as we went down the icy steps back to the car, opened the passenger door for her, and seated her.

We made it back out of the wilds of Green Bay, past the prison, down the freeway, over the river, through the roundabouts and back past the Frozen Deer standing in the ditch.  Before we knew it, we were back home.

"Don't drive in, I'll walk.  You're going to get stuck," Mom said.

"Ack, no worries.  Hang on!" and I gunned the car forward into the hard drifts.  Mom was not thrilled with my driving, and clung to the door handle, but the car bucked through the snowbanks and I delivered her with a smile to her back door, safe and sound.

"Don't get old," she said to me, as I helped her get out of my stupid bucket seats.

"I won't," I promised.  I truly doubt I will live to see 93.

As soon as she was safely back in her house, I waved at her, as is our tradition, and plowed back through the snowbanks to the road and back home.  And as I drove home, I wiped a few tears away.

We never know how much time we have with our loved ones, but I was reminded again today to treasure the time we have left.

And I do.


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear, dear Karen ~ What a sweet, fun post. Your Mom is such a dear, spunky soul. I'm glad you shared that little trip together.

Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

Junebug said...

What a lovely post. You are so right about we never know how much time we have with love ones, elderly or young. Hugs!!

My Garden Diaries said...

So very true friend...I am glad you got there safely and that you have your mom! I lost my cousin this week so I can very much so relate to this post. What a gift our loved ones are...Nicole

My Garden Diaries said...

So very true friend...I am glad you got there safely and that you have your mom! I lost my cousin this week so I can very much so relate to this post. What a gift our loved ones are...Nicole

My Garden Diaries said...

So very true friend...I am glad you got there safely and that you have your mom! I lost my cousin this week so I can very much so relate to this post. What a gift our loved ones are...Nicole

Indie said...

What a poignant post. I lost my grandmother this year, and somehow I thought she would live forever. You just never know. What a blessing that your mother is so active and healthy!

Alison said...

What a great post, and so true. Thanks for sharing. I really hate having my blood drawn.

Stephen Andrew said...

AH! You've got me all teary-eyed. Not that it takes much! What a wonderful post. To take pause and reflect on what we're thankful for is a great thing.

Beth said...

What a beautiful post, Karen. You are lucky to have each other. I'm happy for you and wish you many more happy years together.

Pamela Gordon said...

What a sweet post, Karen. You are a writer! I enjoy reading of your adventures. Yes, we need to appreciate our loved ones each and every day, especially the older ones. Our parents are both gone so we are the 'older' ones now and I hope the younger ones appreciate us!! I think they do though. You are so blessed to have your mother so healthy and nearby. Blessings!

Betsy said...

Takes times like this to make us pause and be thankful. Your mom sounds like a young 93.
As always, I enjoy reading your posts. It's funny - mom says the same thing "don't get old". I like your response to that, I feel the same way.
My mom is 92, she is moving slow now and doesn't want to be by herself. She has early dementia, the doc says some alzheimers (whatever that means) 4 years ago.

Chad B said...

Beautiful, Karen. Just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

93 is such a long life, especially since she is doing well. I lost my my in 2009 and she was still in her seventies. You are very fortunate to have your mom who is healthy with you.

HolleyGarden said...

What a sweet story. I still have both my parents, but they are each in not-so-good health, so every day truly is a treasure. It's wonderful for you, and for your Mom, that you live close by. By the way, a friend of mine's mother will celebrate her 102'nd birthday this year. When she turned 100 she stayed out late dancing! :O)

Lona said...

My Dad use to tell me the same thing, "Lona don't get old". I know what he means with every passing year now. It is so hard to know what to say to someone who has lost loved ones. Sometimes just a kind word is appreciated and you did that. My Mom is 82 and physically okay but her mental bearings are going so fast now. It is sad to see. It is such a shame when a persons mind goes before their body so be thankful every day that your Mom is healthy in all these things at her age. It is wonderful.
Girl I hate those round abouts. LOL! We just got a couple in our nearby little town and they throw everyone off. They just start into them and stop wondering which way to go. LOL!
Have a lovely week ahead my friend.

Gardening in a Sandbox said...

Oh that was a good post. I can relate with the snow and the snowdrifts. I lost my Mom seven years ago and although we did not live nearby I miss her still. My dad is 94 but lives in a nursing home as he has dementia. Valerie

Carolyn ♥ said...

My sweet mother in law used to say "growing old isn't for sissys". I'm not sure I want to grow old.Like it our not... it's a coming!