It is Sunday of the Thanksgiving holiday. The tree is up; the outside decorations are almost complete. (More later on my porch tableau. I even made Steve laugh with my dog house based decor plan) The baby wreaths were hung on the upstairs windows before the blizzard started. I said I would go onto the roof to position them, and Steve called me an idiot, a remark he retreated from rapidly. Smart man. (Steve actually helped a lot. I have my Christmas miracle: the marriage survived.) This year we will be minimizing our Christmas transformation. Steve is thrilled with the enforced minimalism, I am sad to miss the twinkle overkill. This, however, is non-negotiable. Around December 10th, a truckload of plywood and red oak will be moved into our home to acclimate. (Where to put it??) Even I cannot decorate around a mountain of wood. We have lived in this house for 33 years, and an update is needed. We have five different flooring surfaces on the main level of our house. A crazy quilt of carpeting, tiles, and wood is screaming “old people live here.”
The work is scheduled for January 2, at which time any inside decorations will need to be down. Furniture stashed. So..just a tree. (sob) We will leave home for a few weeks, probably spending time in Michigan and Florida. We will start the New Year as gypsies, in geography and in spirit.
Steve took Thanksgiving week off, and it was a chance for us to spend quiet time together. We practiced for his unemployment. We had a his 64th birthday dinner at Hampton Social Club, a venue Steve let me pick. Delicious! We saw A Star is Born and Widows at the fancy pants theaters. We celebrated Thanksgiving with 2/3 of the family and I made an unprecedentedly bad batch of pies. Steve was so impressed with my zeal for failure that he bought me a Kitchen Aid mixer on Black Friday as a Christmas gift. It is red and beautiful, but I fear it will not correct my bad alchemy. It is in its box on the floor. Perhaps Steve and I will become master bakers in retirement.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that I am on record as resisting. I love the Thanks part, and the Family part, but the food is too much work and too much white stuff. The girls at the Joliat house were the architects of the celebration. The men would go to the Lions game while we set the table, peeled potatoes, and prepared dinner. When they arrived home, we served, cleared, delivered dessert and did dishes while the males watched TV. (Good china and silver were hand washed- it took a lifetime.) I’d like to say my objections were the seeds of my feminism, but maybe I was just lazy. At any rate, I never fall under the spell of turkey dinners. I used to whine for a non-pumpkin pie, and Mom would make me a chocolate pie. That was my special Thanksgiving memory. What child in a large family doesn’t crave that special treatment? This year, as I failed 3 times to make a good one, I experienced some guilt for exploiting my Mother’s desire to please everyone at her table. I couldn’t just eat pumpkin pie?
The end of 2018 approaches. I look back at a year that taught me that health is ephemeral. In January, I had a cardiac episode and ended up wearing a Halter monitor that indicated that I was having erratic blood flow episodes. Three months later I was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery, radiation, drug therapy- I am now on the cusp of my 6 month rechecks. I am grateful for the care I received, for avoiding chemo, for an early diagnosis and positive prognosis. I am even more grateful for the wide waves of love and support that SO many people gave to me. You know who you are and what you did: words, soup, ice cream, totems, bracelets, kindnesses, funny cards, gardening help…the list of blessings I have received is endless. And I can never thank my kids and their spouses for knowing what to say and do to pull me to the finish line. Thanksgiving gave me a chance to look back at my blessings and good fortune. My cornucopia is full, so to speak. (I had created a blog to outline all these kindnesses, but I inadvertently failed to save it properly. Then I pouted for a month and did not post. I will return to this theme, which is the sustaining concept of my life. Not the pouting, the kindness.)
Of course, I am most grateful to Steve for hovering, listening, being my advocate and cheerleader. He is as steady as a St. Bernard. The Sunday after my first surgery was Mother’s Day. Steve organized the day so that I could see the kids and grandkids, then rest. I needed to spruce up with my first shower. I had not yet dared to remove the compression bra they strapped me into to reduce swelling, nor had I seen the surgeon’s handiwork. He found a shower seat for me and watched like a guardian angel as I tried to loosen the bandages that covered the stitches and steri strips. He helped. Didn’t wince or look away. I stepped into a waiting towel, looked at the ruins, and then became dizzy.Fainted. I awakened on the floor. Steve had managed to catch a naked, slippery me on the way down, without adding bruises or head trauma to my tattered body. Every step of the way, he has been a miracle. There. Present. Positive.Brave.
The last month of this year brings us the last day for Steve at WLS. He is a radio man. It drove him to GED out of high school and run errands for any station that would let him hang out. The station is AM and hyper political, and he is a bad fit in an ultra conservative line-up. Everyone who listens knows he is an anarchist at heart. (That was a joke.His are very complicated politics, but they start with a threshold of truth. He could never spew outrage and hysteria to sell boner pills. He just cannot.) He has been culled from the line-up, replaced with a younger syndicated conservative, ready to step into Rush’s shoes if he is ever unable (Rushbo will never be unwilling) to participate in the hate parade. He loves the Dahl team at NBC Tower, as well as the community he reaches on the airwaves. He mourns the loss of the magic of radio, which too often drifts from the intimacy of a local circle of “friends” to a bully pulpit or bullhorn. Radio used to be central to our lives: we got up to it, went to sleep with it. In fact, back in 1975 I heard the non-traditional voice of the man I would marry as I drove to work in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He played “All By Myself” and I figured he was trolling for girls on the hot line. (He was.) Ah…the beauty of a warm medium. No more. And even with his sad day bearing down, I am deeply thankful that he had 4 bonus years to dwell in the dream of the radio he loves. Every day we had last week on vacation was a dress rehearsal for this new configuration…whatever that will be. Steve is working his butt off to figure out the podcast future, and I am standing by to be his kickstand. There. Present. Positive. Brave. Most of all, we are full of thanks for this rich, wonderful, overstuffed, blessed life we have. You have to take the bitter with the sweet. The flop pies with the triumph.
Thank you for the circle of kindness and support. We are grateful. You are our extended family. We would have been glad to have you at the Thanksgiving table. And maybe, just maybe- with that motivation, I would have made a decent pie.
I will try to post more, save drafts better, not pout, and keep you abreast of all the stuff (turkey reference) that is happening.