Richard was told as a young trim fit man that he had high cholesterol. In 1987, he was taken to Beth Israel hospital in Boston, where he was the recipient of the first stent put into a human. It’s still working. But he has been having difficulties for years. Every once in a while, he has had to stop what he was doing and sit down, sometimes with pain. But he put off going for help, after one doctor said he needed a bypass.
After riding his bike for three hours one day in July, the chest pains just didn’t go away. He waited a few days, in agony, until his family came back from the cottage, and his son took him to the hospital. I drove down the next day.
He was transferred to Southlake in Newmarket, which has a big cardiology centre. After an angiogram, a new stent, and an attempt to place another stent, he had a quadruple bypass July 27. His arteries were plugged right up, except where the historical stent was. I spent most of eleven days beside his bed reading aloud, playing cards, tucking in the covers, feeding him and walking with him. I took him home and helped care for him there until he was getting along pretty well on his own, in mid-September.
His family were there for him too. Dylan, 4, always ran up to Richard’s room and got the red heart-shaped pillow that Richard always forgot and needed to press against his chest when he coughed. Rick, his son, will come south with us and help do the work on the boat.
In September the cardiologist and surgeon, both pleased with his recovery, gave him the go-ahead for the rehabilitation programme, and now he is almost his old self, only with more energy.
He has purchased an electric windlass to pull up the anchor.
My boat is still here, thanks to the declining economy, and there is snow piling up on it today..
Virginia’s operation for suspected breast cancer went smoothly, and she is very happy in her little house, which she moved into in February. She still works at the grocery store weekday mornings and has an active social life. But she’s a bit of a hazard when she plays darts at the Legion. You want to stay well back of her.
When Mom went into hospital in March briefly, after Virginia moved out, Dad knew he could not care for her alone. He agreed that they would try Beattie Haven, the local retirement home, and they have settled in. It isn’t home, but the pressure is off Dad now, and the rest of us too.
Jeremy, Sandy’s son, who was hit head-on by a drunk a year and a half ago, had what should be his last surgery in October. His girlfriend was his nurse, so he’s getting good care. He showed me his healed scars last night, after beating me at Scrabble again.
Vonny and Ray made more permanent community and financial support arrangements for Tom, and he is doing just fine. They are back on their boat north of Columbia.
Mike, my son, has lots of friends, but the girl-friend is gone..
The eleven great-grandchildren include twins to Shane and Karen, who had a one-year-old and two-year-old at the time. Shane also had a lump of a particularly virulent form of cancer. It was excised, and he is being monitored to make sure no “satellites” appear.
Our parents’ home is empty. Sandy did most of the work. Every room took days, and was full of memories. She and Gerry have staged the house for selling, which took most of the summer and fall.
In mid-September, I got drawn into the federal election, helping the NDP in this riding. I worked dawn to late in the evening. It’s been years since I did this, and I have to admit I enjoyed it.
Richard visited, and was unhappy about the election work. But we’ll be together for six months on a 34-foot boat. I think he’ll get over it. If he doesn’t, I’ll make him read my copy of Loving Him Without Losing You.
Bill, my brother, and I took a creative writing course together at the local community college, and he followed it up with a little course that he gave. He’s a great writer.
Now I think about what is the most important thing to be doing each day. Often it’s time with Richard, or Virginia, or the grands.
I’ll miss my family, while carving out time for that precious other life on the boat with Richard. I have regrets and joy in either place.