Last 90 days.

Monday, January 1st, 2007

I am looking at a photo or two of a Cargill plant at dawn in Sidney, Ohio, perched atop my iPhoto smart album labeled ‘Last 90 days.’

So that means, with the relentless clarity that only computer-based metadata can provide, that it’s been 90 days since Sammy and I first headed up I-75 to “help out” as her Dad was scheduled to have a stent put in a coronary artery. As many of you know, this turned into a much more serious triple-bypass operation with extra postoperative complications, and a lot more “helping out” that reached a new chapter this week.

The photo is one that Sam shot from our motel room after a night of conviviality with our friend Martha in Cincinnati. A few short days before Sammy’s birthday. We were driving north into fall, and although we were prepared (I would say) for complications, we weren’t (I would say) prepared for all of what we had to do over the past three months.

We had a good holiday with our greater family (including Sammy’s parents but alas, not including my sister and her husband out west), and then Sammy flew back to Michigan, sheparding her parents safely back to the land of cold winters. Two days later, I loaded up the truck with furniture and other stuff her family will need and headed up the very familiar truck-filled lanes of I-75.

Meanwhile, the very next day, her mom checked into a facility that says they’re especially good at what’s called “memory care” these days. A new chapter begins for her, and for us. She lives now in an AmeriSuites version of her life, with familiar chairs and books and new furniture from an Atlanta Target and a TV she really isn’t interested much in watching and a view of the changing seasons from a large picture window.

By many standards, it has all gone very well, due in no small part to the strength of my spouse; her determination to do a good job for her family. By many standards, this is a process that can’t go very well, because it is a series of compromises brought on by what her mom can and can’t do for herself now, and her dad, now a recovering heart patient nearing 90 (he’s doing quite well with that recovery) can only do so much for so long.

So it’s sad. And it’s hopeful. And I’m just glad I can look back at this photo and reconnect to where we were and what we were thinking then…and I try to carry as much of that as I can, over and through the last 90 days, onward into 2007.