My beautiful (inside and out) mother, Anne Whittlesey Moore, turned 70 yesterday. Seven entire decades… and she’s still sane! More than that, she’s wise and loving, graciously inspiring to everyone who knows her—even a little bit. My dad (with whom she will be celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary in February) donated a hefty gift certificate for a swanky Santa Barbara hotel to the cause and all five daughters and our Aunt Sue (Dad’s sister and one of mom’s best friends) met up for the weekend. My mom and I drove up early Sunday morning to pick up Tamara (Kansas City), Acacia (Chicago), and Cambria (Seattle) at LAX, then drove the rest of the way together. Aunt Sue (San Louis Obispo) and my sister-in-law Nicole (Palo Alto) drove the other direction to meet us at the hotel.
Santa Barbara is one of my mother’s favorite cities. It holds her favorite clothing shop, which of course we visited in our fabulous shopping excursion, in which everyone bought something special to wear, if nothing else just for the togetherness of the experience. We do love shopping together, especially since its so rare actually BE together…and extra-rare to be without children in tow. We also love eating together, and every time we went to a restaurant for a meal, the waiter brought my mom a small birthday cake (or ice cream, mousse, or flan) which we gleefully shared, passing the play around the circle till it was clean. There were at least five separate candles she’d blown out by the end of her birthday.
Every mealtime, the seven of us huddled together and asked her about another decade of mom’s life: a story she remembered, a highlight, a lesson. We never got through all the decades, but it was sweet to see how she felt she came into her ‘purpose’ when she had kids. Of course its not her only purpose, but its good to be a child of someone who felt that great about mothering. And she still IS a great mother. She told us her great hope in mothering was always that she would be friends with her children. It was wonderful to bask in the collective love and friendship…and to honor this woman who made us all possible. (And in some ways, still does.)
My dad managed the kid’s schedules and care, and I was able to delegate babysitters and pick-ups mostly by text. It was also by phone that I could talk to the care home and the hospital about changes there. Vernon was discharged on Sunday afternoon, though I had originally been told it would be Monday. All seemed fine.
After dropping Acacia back at the airport this morning, Tamara, Cambria, and my mom went with me to visit Vernon in Costa Mesa. The first person we saw was Joe, smoking in the courtyard. “What’s happened to Vernon,” he asked. “He’s not the same man who left here last week.”
I was only slightly nervous about what I’d find, but he was worse than I had seen him for some time. His eyes weren’t squeezed tight—instead they were wide open. He muttered phrases over and over than made no sense. He yelled out a lot, quite energized but totally confused. I did manage to get him on the mat for twenty minutes or so, which seemed to calm him down a bit. We eventually rolled him outside to get some fresh air, and he mellowed out a little more, making slightly more sense, but not much. Though his face was less puffy than before the last surgery, we noticed how swollen his left arm and his hand had become.
If there are two new blessings in my life this year that I am thankful for everyday, it is Joe and Dr. Dan. I don’t know where I would be without them…let alone Vernon. I texted Dan the above photo (taken by my sister) along with my concerns, and within a short time, arrangements were made to send Vernon to the ER at Hoag yet again.
As far as I know, he has had an ultrasound on his arm, but it is almost 11 and I have not heard anything new. This most likely means he will be sent back to Mesa Verde tonight and will be back to dialysis and life as usual in the morning. I’ll be there to check him out, wherever he is then.
Now…transitions are hard. Going on a wonderful holiday with my closest family and then suddenly being dropped into more hospital drama isn’t what I would have preferred. But the holiday WAS wonderful and joy-filled and nothing can take that away.
Tomorrow has enough problems of its own to worry about them today. At the moment, Vernon is in the hospital…though I am concerned about him, there is nothing I can do now. Tomorrow I will know more. But tonight, I will go to bed with my heart overflowing.
I have a family who loves me as I love them. A living husband who is in good hands. And a mother who is my dearest friend (and role model) of all.