Saturday, September 29, 2007

We made it. After 2439 miles and four days on the road, we rolled into the Bay Area this afternoon. So that’s the end of this story, but here are the details of getting ready to back out of the drive.

It all started almost two weeks ago. After an uncomfortable weekend when I always seemed to be tired, I got a call on Monday morning from my cardiologist’s office. It seemed that my 8.5 year old pacemaker was getting tired and its batteries were running down. So it had gone into a survival mode (both for it and for me) and kept my heart rate at a constant 65 beats regardless of what I was doing. It was time for a tune up and mine was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. The surgery was successful and I was home by 5:00 with a brand new high tech pacemaker and new charged up batteries.

I feel so lucky that Don’s battery died when it did. We had known that he was due for a “charge”- and even talked of scheduling it for January- the first moment the insurance would pay for a “routine” change. But suddenly the change isn’t routine”. Don was just so suddenly winded, his legs feeling heavy after just one flight of steps in our house. Of course a real clue was the fact that his pulse never changed regardless of what he was doing. From time to time I am abruptly reminded of the progress that has been made since I first was a nurse. I remember feeling so grateful for the first pacemakers- the ones that beat at 72 per minute with nary a budge regardless of what the patient was doing- and those very first pacemakers did save lives. Don’s life would have been one of those lives saved even then. Don is in complete heart block- so without the pacemaker his heart would never beat higher than about 30 or so- certainly not enough to sustain anyone’s life for long. But he would have always been so very tired with those old pacers. But not now- the new models not only respond just like a heart without the block- they have phenomenal ability to collect much info about his heart which he transmits over the phone to the Medtronics- the pacemaker company. Oh I know there are folks who wax nostalgic for the good ole days- not me- The difference that we can make in lives because of medical advances wasn’t even imagined by many of us those 35 years ago when I first became a nurse.
But an aside- I cannot ever think of a pacemaker without thinking of my dear Aunt Annie- our perfect Miss Pitty Pat. When we told her that Don had a pacemaker she exclaimed- “Why that’s wonderful- now he can never die!” She went on to explain that she had a friend that hovered at the door of heaven for several days- with all of the family sitting at the bedside- But that pacemaker just wouldn’t stop. “Why,” Aunt Annie said in that characteristic southern drawl, “they thought they might have to go in and take the thing out!”

Unfortunately, I was scheduled to go to San Diego on Thursday, so after a night’s sleep, I was off to the airport and a flight to San Diego where I was in meetings the rest of the day and then dinner that night. But again, unfortunately, the packers were coming to our house to pack our stuff on Friday morning. So I flew home Thursday night on the redeye and got home at about 8:30. The packers arrived at 9:00, and we worked with them until they left at around 2:00.

Don was so exhausted that he actually slept upright on the backyard glider while the movers were working inside.

It’s hard to know exactly what one needs to take for a year away from home. I scoured the kitchen for just what I thought might be necessary. The avocado slicer, mango slicer and garlic slicer all made the cut. The counter top mixer and food processer stay at home. The bread machine made the cut- Don loves homemade rolls. I put in the vegetable juicer- I keep thinking that I’ll become that California health conscious this year and actually make vegetable juice- I have much hope for California- I’m going to look svelte- lose 15 pounds and exercise regular- meditate with yoga- wear long flowing flower skirts- and look good-oh the dreams I have . The citrus juicer stayed behind- no family coming for breakfast that requires 40 plus oranges for breakfast in order to serve “fresh squeezed”- will just be Don and me. The stick blender definitely made the cut- the food processor stays at home. One time I read an article that all you needed were like 7 items to cook almost anything- I don’t remember the 7 things- the whole article was heresy- and missed the point. It’s not that anyone needs all that equipment- it’s just that all that equipment prompts trying new things- why if it weren’t for that mango slicer (with seed removal) I would never have tried so very many mango recipes. And blended soups- only for the opportunity to use that stick blender- to say nothing of homemade salad dressings- it’s the toys in the kitchen that provides the interest- And you’d think with all the interest my kitchen contains I’d do a lot more cooking.

That night we had dinner and played Bridge with our friends the Peairs.

I love to play bridge with the Don and Mary Jo Peairs. Of course a big draw is that the evening always begins with a wonderful dinner cooked by Mary Jo- not only does the food always taste great- but you always feel just a bit healthier after eating Mary Jo’s food. My Don and Mary Jo won- of course it was just luck- they had better cards. So I’m sure that had Don Peairs and I had better cards the outcome would have been reversed. But don’t worry- we’ve packed the cards- and they’re safe after the drive across country just waiting for Don and Mary Jo to come to San Fran for a visit.

On Saturday we started with lunch with Michael and Liz on the river and then they followed us home where Michael helped me move furniture around the house to fill up spaces that the movers left. Michael was a real savior helping me move a hide-a-bed couch, a queen size bed, and also bring a twin bed in from storage. Max and Amber and I probably could have eventually gotten it all done, but with Michael it was a breeze.

Michael is strong! It was amazing to watch this “boy”- now “man” do the heavy lifting with Don- who usually is the one doing the heavy lifting alone. It is one of those moments when you really see those passing of the years- that moment when the youngest Son is bigger and stronger than the Dad. But of course Michael would never let on- He’d probably always pretend that he was just helping- but then like father like son.

Saturday night we went a going away party with a few folks from P&G and had a great time with some of my favorite co-workers. Melisse (the host) fixed a great meal and we all had wonderful time.

Don is blessed with the most wonderful friends from P&G. But I am forever indebted to the “girls”- Rimma, Mary Pat and Melisse. They have done wonders to keep Don in touch with his feminine self. And of course I wouldn’t have my diamonds if Rimma hadn’t gently suggested that a KitchenAid counter top mixer was not the best choice for a 10 year wedding anniversary- Thank you Rimma! Because of the “girls” Don understands all of his women better- And for that I am most grateful!

Sunday, we went to our church for the last time for a while and then had our usual brunch at our favorite Sunday morning place, Gabby’s. Linda Wise, our friend from the neighborhood met us there for our 3rd or 4th good-bye with her. I spent Sunday afternoon doing final yard work, trying to get last minute gardening finished and then Mary, Kevin and Taylor came over for dinner and their last good-byes. We’ll sure miss seeing them this next year.

By the end of the goodbyes- And watching all my stuff packed and loaded in the truck I got pretty sad myself. I had been spending most of my time thinking of the wonderful adventure lying ahead- not much time thinking about all I’ll miss at Cincinnati. But boy- by the time I had had last meals with Sarah, Shawn and Deseree, Sam and Jan,

And then Mary and Fouad, Mary Jo and Don, Amber and Jason, Mary, Kevin and Taylor, Mary Pat and Tom, Melisse and John, Rimma and Kevin, George, Mimi and Adrienne and Linda- we actually did Linda twice! I was well over the top with the “leaving”. But in addition to enjoying the company of so many wonderful friends/family- I am also reminded that what I love the most remains 2439 miles away from where I am now.

I had to go to work on Monday to meet with a company that was in town from Taiwan, so that pushed me to the afternoon to pack for our drive. The rest of Monday was spent going from room to room trying to find stuff that we will need for the next year and then getting it all packed. We went back to Gabby’s for dinner (Monday is Italian night) and Amber joined us. Dino, Gabby’s owner gave us Italian Ice’s on house for dessert and then it was home for the final look.

Tuesday morning, I started loading the car. I think we filled it to capacity. The trunk and the back seat were filled up with miscellaneous bags of stuff that we kept finding that we couldn’t leave behind.

There was not a corner left without something stuffed into. I couldn’t even find a space to set the coffee cups when we finished without getting out of the car and rearranging the multiple “small canvas” bags. Don said the only reason we got so much stuffed into the car was because I had so many small canvas bags that could be “stuffed into yet another corner.

Finally, it was time to say good-bye to Semper. He knew we were leaving. He always knows when I get out my suitcase. But this we were taking lots of stuff, but not him. When I last looked at him he was lying down just looking at me. I think he knew that this was different. I hate leaving him home, but know that he would not do well living in a small apartment. He will have Amber and Amber’s dog Brutus to keep him company. I’ll miss Semper. He is the best dog I have ever known.


Anonymous said...

I am crying because of Don's Semper comments. Can you try not to end another entry that way? -Marianne (#3b since Clint is #3, and I'm his wife, this will be my new signature!)

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you two found the energy to do all you have done in the last two weeks. I hope the unpack is easy and you have a few days to relax before you rush into the world. We will be searching for leaves missing you SO MUCH!

Anonymous said...

After reading the blog I feel like I drove the 2,000+ miles cross country! One minor correction...Del Rio is 6 miles north of Mexico and therefore not entirely in the "middle of nowhere". Concur that the Semper comment is a tear jerker, particularly w/ the pic in the blog w/ Sempy sleeping behind Don. Looking forward to more.