Sheesh! I am thrilled it's 2008. I had been holding back on some info due to time constraints and wanting to tell friends by phone rather than via blog. I hope this year will go a little better than last fall did! First, we ended up losing custody of the kids! I still can't believe it. We are still in the appeal process, so things might change. At least one good thing has come out of this. The boys are both able to see more clearly and both of them want to come back. Yay! Pie says, "It's like you sent us to a military camp!" We say, "Well, it's not like we had much say in the matter." They are such good company these days, although fighty with one another. I have been focusing on having faith that this is all for the best, but man, has it been hard to think that.
The next very bad thing to happen was that my adored granddaddy died on December 5. He'd been fighting leukemia on and off for years, but he seemed to be doing fairly well. The leukemia had come back, but we assumed that another round of chemo would keep it at bay again. We were more worried about my grandmom & in fact one of the last solo conversations I had with my granddad was about us being worried for her health. She'd been to the ER with chest pains and had had all kinds of other health issues. But, when I got down there after Thanksgiving, I discovered that my granddad's sore throat had gotten much worse. He was on Vicodin & could hardly walk by himself. Good thing my great big cousin Aaron was there to help! That night, I took him some Jell-o and toast at 1:30 a.m. so that he could have more Vicodin. He ate very slowly and I just hung out on the bed with him while my grandmom slept. He said, "I bet you don't have to wait around for your cats to eat." He was utterly disgusted with his weakness. He has always been terribly independent, climbing up on the counters to fix a light fixture just a few months ago. I said to him, "Yeah, but you don't wake me up all night wanting in or out of the bedroom!"
The next night, he was much worse, really out of it, throwing up & running a high fever. So, we called 911. I sure was glad to have my cousin Leah there with me to wait for the ambulance. My aunt Jeanie had just moved down here from Vermont right before my grandmom's first ER visit...thank God she was here. They took my granddaddy in and I debated whether I should return to Cleveland for the weekend or not. My grandmom insisted that I do so, saying nothing much was going to change over the weekend & that my granddad would want me to celebrate the boys' birthdays with them as planned. So, I came home & we celebrated, although I didn't feel terribly celebratory. My granddad kept asking if it was Tuesday yet, when I would return. Tuesday, I went in to visit him. He couldn't really talk, but asked me what time I got in. My mom & I stayed a while longer, then went back out to the house.
In the morning, the doctor called my grandmom & told her we'd better go in earlier than planned. Brendan hung out at the hospital with us all morning, me, my mom & grandmom, Jeanie & Aaron. The doctors said there was basically nothing more they could do, so we made the decision to switch from restorative care to palliative care. I was really afraid that he would linger for weeks in a kind of half-life. Had he been able to be released from the hospital, he would have had to go to a nursing home. He never wanted that. Brendan did the service for the dying with us, then went to grab a bite to eat. My grandmom was halfway through her bagel when the intern came and told us we'd better come. She held my arm and finished chewing her bagel bite as we walked back to my granddad's room in the ICU. We formed a circle of love around him as he died. There is nothing like having a close-knit family at times like that. The family gathered at my grands' house that night and the next day to be together. It was decided by my mom, Aunt & grandmom that I must accompany J to Las Vegas on Friday, that she needed me more than the family did. My grandmom was very forceful, telling me it's what my granddad would have wanted, too. I knew it to be true, so I drove home Thursday night and we flew out Friday.
Our week in Las Vegas was fun, although I don't know that I'd choose to go there again. Her company put us up at the Bellagio, which was utterly lovely. The room overlooked the fountains and was across from Paris, so our window was full of Eiffel Tower and hot air balloon. We ate all kinds of good food from places like Spago, Emeril's New Orleans Fishhouse and Mon Ami Gabi, which was our favorite. It's a little bistro/café in Paris. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the warm weather and the people-watching. We split an artichoke, then she had a great burger and I had the best croque monsieur I've ever had. Yum! We saw the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana, which was delightful, filled with fabulous costumes, all rhinestones and feathers. J also saw Danny Gans, the night I'd flown back for school. The day before I had to leave, I got to have lunch with a dear internet buddy and her terrific husband. It was the first time I'd met them in person & now I wish I could teleport so that I could have lunch with them more often. I can't imagine living in Las Vegas, but they assure me that where they live is nothing like the Strip. I don't know if I found the gambling or the men passing out full-color cards featuring nude women and their prices more disturbing. Sure, we played the penny slots, but I saw a lot of people looking like they were up to lose a lot of money. One cousin told me that Las Vegas was exhausting, another that we could be completely comfortable in either sweatpants or formalwear. Both were right. Vegas is kind of like Disney, if Disney were designed and operated by Quentin Tarantino. Very strange town.
When I flew back into Cleveland, I popped home to check on the cats & then drove right down to Dayton, where all was apparently well. I attended class and visited with family. I was glad to be with my grandmom, who had suffered a heart attack while I was traveling. J was horribly distraught Thursday & Friday, weeping and afraid. I felt awful that I couldn't be with her & hoped that she would feel better once I picked her up at the airport Friday. That never happened. The third dreadful thing that happened was that I totalled my beloved car! On the way home that Friday, with only a few hours until J's flight got in, I tried to switch lanes. A center lane which had been empty moments before suddenly contained a car that had moved over from the right. I jerked the wheel to get back into the left lane. I must have overcompensated because my car went wildly out of control. I ended up in the median, after about 600 feet swerving all over the left lane. My car dragged along the cable rail for another 200 feet before coming to a stop. I was not at all hurt, thank God, but my poor car was declared a total loss. Damn. I loved that car. But, cars can be replaced & she has. I now have a 2008 Sonata & J has a cute, apple green 2008 Accent hatchback. Sadly, my car would have been paid off in just 2 months. Now, we have another several years of car payments on top of exorbitant child support ($1200 a month! Good thing I graduate soon & can work full-time!). All in all, though, I am simply happy to be alive.
Christmas & New Year's were nice and quiet. We saw 3 movies with the boys. "Sweeney Todd" which I thought was very well done. "I Am Legend" which I would have liked better if I hadn't seen it Christmas Eve, which is more suited to something like "Enchanted." "Juno" which is one of the very best movies I've seen in ages. Everything about it was fantastic!
Last weekend, J and I went down to attend my granddad's memorial service. It would have been his 89th birthday. We cooked a bunch of food to feed the family who were in town from all over the country. The service was lovely, with a perfect sermon. The family spent the whole weekend visiting & I got the chance to meet cousins I have no recollection of meeting before because I was so young when they last saw me. My closer cousins, aunts & uncles were around, too. It was so good to see everyone. My mama stayed with us at the hotel, which was wonderful. My grandmom seems to be getting better day by day now that the memorial service is over. She'd been in terrible shape both physically and mentally, but is now improving greatly. Thank God! I am truly blessed to have such a close family.