Sunday, September 11, 2011

America Shall Not Perish

[We] here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." ~ Abraham Lincoln, 1863

"That 'we here highly resolve...' in the midst of a bitter civil war, they came to listen: nearly twenty0-thousand people crowded onto a field in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was November 1863. Only a few months earlier seven thousand Americans had lost their lives on this ground.

"With his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln transformed a field of sorrow and ashes into a place of hope. He understood how precious it was for a nation to rededicate itself, in a war-torn world, to the twin ideals of liberty and equality. Today, those ideals still stand as our twin towers: beacons to guide us as we strive to fashion a world in which all people may freely live their dreams." - James West Davidson, co-author, The American Nation

Monday, September 5, 2011

Great grandparents

My mom called me on Saturday. My Granny's surgery has been scheduled for Wednesday, the 7th. I know I didn't get around to mentioning it before, probably because I was hoping to get some time to process it and write something poignant. But I'm pretty lazy when it comes to blogging I guess. My grandmother has breast cancer. And apparently it's pretty advanced, but it's isolated to a lump so her doctor was pretty confident that he could remove the lump and just give her radiation therapy to resolve it. My mom didn't think her health (she has COPD and was just getting to a point where she didn't need oxygen to move around anymore) would last through radiation treatments. So my mom had her doctor consider other options and they sought a second opinion. The next doctor told my grandmother that a complete mastectomy would negate the need for radiation. My Granny wasn't really going to go for it, but finally came around to our way of thinking. I think she was rather scared because my Papa passed away within months of his cancer diagnosis (when I was only 13). He had pretty advanced cancer too and when they went in to remove it, they found tumors throughout his body. He just never made it through the chemotherapy. But the reason my mom called, other than to wish me a happy birthday and apologize for not being able to visit, was to say that the surgery had been scheduled and Granny had taken a turn for the worse in health. She's been through a lot of tests to assess her for surgery and she's been getting progressively run down since Liam's birthday party. Well, it turns out that her potassium and sodium levels have plummeted again (this happened last year too). It leaves her so weak and unsteady; she's tired all the time.

We went to visit her today. She is pretty worn out. Her voice is deep and congested sounding. She was wearing her dressing gown. She hadn't made her bed in three days she said. We brought the boys to entertain her and just be generally cheerful, but I don't think her surgeon is going to want to do the surgery after I saw how she was doing. I made her bed. Jon went out and brought in the trash cans and took out the newspaper to the recycling bin. We brought in her walker and her toilet seat which upset her because she just got them out of the house at the beginning of the summer. She's back on oxygen, but only at night. She didn't have any water to drink the whole time we were there. Mom came in from work (she's just moved out of the house and back into her own house but is still working in Sac) and made Granny a sandwich and we had a little chit chat. I think it was a good visit overall and I'm glad we insisted on visiting. Who cares that she didn't have a gift or card for my birthday? I'm 32 tomorrow. It's not a cool birthday; I'm claiming to be 27 again. But she did give me some money. We stopped by Louis Cairos in Williams on the way home and brought home delicious steak dinner. I got a rib eye smothered in miso onion butter and grilled onion with ranch beans and minestrone soup. Yummers. So I still got a great gift.

On a side note, I also got a call from my dad yesterday. He was apologizing for being incommunicado the last 2 months and wanted us to swing by to pick up some money he wanted us to have for Liam's daycare. His van finally died last week and I guess he and my uncle Ted spent the day on Saturday shopping for my dad's first new vehicle since they bought my Garfunkle when I was 12 (um, 20 years ago!). He got a Toyota Tacoma pickup, new, and I think it will be a great investment for him and his property. But he also told me that my Grandpa Bert was in the hospital in Stockton, just having had surgery and was recovering really well. I thought this was for a kidney transplant that dad said he needed. But no. Apparently he had a brain tumor too. And his doctor had not originally wanted to operate on it; I guess he said "let's wait a couple of months and see, but I don't think it's malignant." So I guess my grandpa told him that if he didn't get the tumor out of his brain, then he would stop going to dialysis. I can understand his reasoning. The man's 90 years old. If his brain isn't good enough to rescue, why should his kidney be?

All in all, I'm so lucky that my boys have 3 great grandparents still in their lives, even though we only spend a significant amount of time with my Granny. I still have fond memories of my two great grandmothers, both of whom I knew throughout elementary school.