Saturday, October 10, 2015

Inch Eighty-Six: Portland Moments

Rosh Hashanah gathering 
A month ago I was in Portland for eight days. Five weeks later, the immediacy of the trip has faded. Rather, I find myself reflecting on what I carried back with me.

Oh, that's obvious. Love, family, togetherness. Warmth, laughter, some tears. Good times, good food. A Rosh Hashanah meal full of family and friends, including a nephew (from my prior marriage) whom I had not seen in 14 years.

But there are two specific memories that I carry deep in my heart, with all the other memories as an overlay.

The first is Ramona, who is now three. Her verbal skills have exploded. She is pre-reading and I found myself more than once listening to her sound out her world. "Uncle Pat has a dog, Grandma. Duhh-duhh-duhh. Dog. 'Dog' starts with a D, Grandma!"

At three, Ramona is no longer the frenetic ball of energy she was at two. Her focus is sharper. She will sit through several books, then "read" them aloud  herself. She is capable of creating and following a sustained story/play line using plastic animals (giraffes, elephants, lions, horses, whatever—it's a peaceable kingdom).

Pie making
Ramona and I baked a pie together, an activity I put at the top of my "want to do" list. At three, Ramona is not quite ready to make a pie from start to finish, but she was excited to roll out the dough. Well, she was excited until she realized she could run her finger through the flour/sugar mixture I dusted the rolling mat with and stick her finger in her mouth.

"I LIKE making pies, Grandma!"

The other deep memory I will carry forever is I sat my sons down and spoke with them about my health. I'm way, way farther along the continuum of myeloma, so much so that I have passed all statistical expectancies. My Mayo oncologist said that I am in a very tiny class at this point, definitely in the shallow end of the pool. While I am hoping not to die in the next several months, I explained that death is a lot closer than it was.  And then my voice broke.

"I am learning to say goodbye to the things and people I love, and other than Warren, there is no one I love more than you."

I managed to get that out before I burst into tears.

Sam, sitting nearest to me at the table, looked at me, his eyes wide and stricken. He reached over and covered my hand, holding it.

Ben, at the far end of the table, shoved away. I thought I had upset him so much that he was leaving the room. Instead, he came around to where I was sitting and put his arms around me. We all spent a few minutes sniffling (well, I was crying) and then regained our composures. We then started playing a card game.

There are far worse ways to deal with life and death than to talk, cry, and then play a game.

Life goes on. It goes on in a card game. It goes on in a hug. It goes on in Ramona saying loudly at the supper table, "Pie! P! I! E! That spells PIE!"

And it does.


Laurie said...

Spending time with those you love, letting them know it, and making memories is really what it's all about, isn't it? Now you've got me thinking of pie :o)

Darla said...

I'm so delighted that you got to make a pie with Ramona. And she knows how to spell it too! Talking to your family must have been extremely hard but brave as well. I even took it to heart as I consider you a friend who I care about.


Dana said...

You are such a beautiful writer. Your words are gifts to me. I've been enjoying small moments of great reward since my own mm diagnosis in 2009. My gratitude and my prayers are with you!