Tag Archive | family

The Power Of Family

 

Last November, my 92-year-old mother-in-law was admitted to hospital with a serious medical condition. Let’s face it, at that age any medical condition is serious and we were becoming accustomed to receiving calls to come to the hospital, but this time things really didn’t look good.

After several tests to determine the problem, it was clear that surgery was definitely not an option so the plan was to stabilize her, treat her with various medications and hope for the best.

Normally mother-in-law lived at home with one son, and at least three more of us visited her regularly every week so it wasn’t surprising that once the word got around, everyone showed up at the hospital.

I hate to sound the alarm unless things are really dire but eventually there came a point where we really believed that she wasn’t going to survive this latest crisis, and I sent the message out to our three daughters, two of whom live quite a distance away, that now might be the time to gather round. Other family members had done the same and before long there were sons, daughters, in-laws, grandchildren and their husbands and even a great-grandchild at her bedside.

Now, I’m in no way religious, but I have to say that the effect of seeing all those caring faces surrounding her was nothing short of miraculous! The joy of knowing that there were so many people who truly cared about her well-being was unmistakable. Some people may have frowned at our numbers and the sometimes-raucous joviality no doubt engendered by a nervous concern for the patient, but I truly believe that the power of family brought her back from the brink.

Over the course of the next couple of days she perked up! She sat up and started eating. She made jokes and even managed a few steps with the physical therapist. However, this progress was short-lived and over the course of the next few weeks she was shuttled between ICU and a standard hospital room with startling regularity. It was like being on a roller coaster ride, for her and us.

Eventually it was determined that nothing more could be done and the decision to send her home under hospice care was taken. Once again, everyone came to grips with the fact that this probably was the end. But this tough old bird was not going to go down without a fight, almost literally as it turned out.

Winter came and went and spring brought hopes that once again things might be looking up. Mother-in law rallied to the point where she was able to walk a few steps with some assistance. And then the unthinkable happened.

Answering a summons from the doorbell one morning, my brother-in-law was lured out of the house by a man claiming to be there to cut down some branches that were overhanging a neighbor’s yard. While he was outside, another man entered the house and started rummaging through drawers and cupboards. Mom called out for her son and when he didn’t answer she knew there was something wrong. She managed to get out of the hospital bed that had been set up in the living room and, filled with righteous indignation, came steaming out of the room unaided and without her walker, shouting at the intruder to “clear off!” And he did, along with his partner in crime. He must have got the fright of his life when she came at him shaking her fist.

We laughed about it afterwards but things could have turned out a lot differently. Despite her claims that she “wasn’t afraid,” this by now 93-year-old, who also relied on a pacemaker to keep her heart functioning, could have suffered a fatal fall, or even been attacked by someone who could have quite easily knocked her down. But neither of these things happened and the episode became the topic of conversation for several weeks thereafter.

Summer arrived and things settled down. Although she wasn’t in great shape, Mom continued to show signs of improvement. I suppose, realistically, we shouldn’t have expected this trend to last and it didn’t.

Last week she took another turn for the worse and once again family arrived from different parts of the country to be by her bedside. This time, rather than rallying her will to live, I think she took comfort in everyone’s presence, knowing that now she could finally let go of life and eventually, on Monday morning, she slipped away.

We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues and I certainly found her infuriating at times but her loss has certainly left a void in our lives and, for some, her leaving will be a difficult thing with which to come to terms. Still, the power of family will keep us strong and together we’ll face the future with some fond memories of a woman with an indomitable spirit.

Note; – The rose images were captured at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It became increasingly difficult to coax mother-in-law out of the house when she got older but one of the last places we visited together was the Garden.

I’m still catching up with posts and replies but be assured, I will get to all of them eventually.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Butterfly Kisses

This week, Amy has chosen something Unique as the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours with the butterflies at the Chicago Botanic Gardens and, rather like snowflakes, it seems as though every one is slightly different.  And they feel like snowflakes too, whispering past my arms and neck, giving me those butterfly kisses just like my mother used to brush against my cheeks with her eyelashes when I was a child.

And there is definitely some butterfly hanky panky going on in here. What I at first take to be one very large, oddly-shaped butterfly turns out to be two having a good time in the afternoon sun. And there are more of them at it a little further along the path.

I wonder if it’s the rotting fruit that is driving them sex mad? There seems to be a constant flow of visitors to these colorful trays of tempting delicacies, including a butterfly that looks strangely like an autumn leaf.

Whatever the reason, the butterflies are extremely active, the air is full of them fluttering around. It’s a strange thing but although moths usually send me running for the exits or screaming for assistance in the house, butterflies are welcome to land on my shoulder or, like this one, catch a ride on my camera bag.

Each one of these little gems is a unique creation of nature, living a brief, gaudy life, distributing butterfly kisses and filling the hearts of young and old alike, with joy.

 

Getting The Point – At The Field Museum

Here is my second entry for Becky’s Spiky Squares photo challenge.  One of the best places to study nature in the Chicago area during the winter months is the Field Museum and this has to be one of their earliest exhibits;  those giant battling African elephants with their pointy tusks.  We had a great family day out there on Saturday.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Small is Beautiful

This week, Amy has chosen ‘Small is Beautiful’ as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  I didn’t need to search the photo files for this one. The choice was obvious. Our youngest granddaughter, just a few days old, small and beautiful.  For more on this photo challenge go to #11: Small Is Beautiful.

A Day At The Races

Summer wouldn’t be complete without at least one day at the races at Arlington Park.  Our granddaughter loves animals and especially horses so Arlington was high on our list of things to do during her visit.

I will say this, however, that a trip to Arlington may, on the face of it, seem like a cheap day out – parking is free and entrance to the Park is reasonable on certain days – but once inside, beware.  Apart from the obvious temptation to have a bit of a flutter on the gee-gees, the price of food and beverages is ridiculously high! I could have bought a decent bottle of wine for the cost of a small bottle of water and a thrifty shopper could have fed themselves for a week on what I shelled out for ice cream (the first thing the kids ask for when we go somewhere like this.)

Still, the high price of feeding and watering the troops was well worth it, just to see these beautiful creatures step daintily past as they made their way out of the paddock, hopefully with the winning jockey on board.

The horses aren’t the only things racing about at the track.  There isn’t an awful lot of time in between each race so we must decide which horse we like according to name, color of the jockey’s silks or the even more scientific method of sticking a pin in the list of runners, then run up the steps to place a small wager, out again and down the steps to view the horses in the paddock to make sure our choice is still alive and kicking, then back up again so we can go down to the rails to cheer the winner home. It’s quite exhausting!

Things usually go very smoothly at Arlington.  I’m always impressed by how efficiently everyone does their job, from the stable lads and the people who maintain the track to the person who plays the bugle (or is it trumpet?) before each race.

We did quite well that day. Three winners out of seven races which, for us, is about par for the course. And the pleasure we got from seeing our granddaughter meeting one of the horses face to face so to speak, rounded out our trip to the races very nicely.

The Sweetest Flower of All

We recently took a road trip to Texas to celebrate the birth of our youngest granddaughter and I thought that it would be interesting to take pictures of our garden prior to leaving and compare them to how the garden looked when we returned two weeks later.

The beginning of June is the most colorful time of year in our garden and I knew we would probably miss seeing some of the flowers that were on the brink of blooming, but there were enough of them out to wish us a cheery farewell. The peonies were in full bloom and irises of all types and varieties were looking quite spectacular despite losing many to iris borers this year.


Blues and pinks and purples were well represented, with flax flowers, bluebells, salvia Caradonna, Baptisia australis, pinks, weigela, heuchera Coral Bells, Johnson’s Blue cranesbill and aquilegia all making a fine show.


The poppies, including my favorite Turkenlouis, were continuing to burst open but I figured I’d probably miss the pink Carneums.

A lot can happen in two weeks!  Apparently we had quite a bit of rain while we were gone and the weeds had taken over. There were still a few remnants of the flowers that had been blooming when we left and some that had come and gone while we were away. However, the garden was not without some fresh color.

Apart from all the weeds that have invaded every part of the garden, some of the plants that are supposed to be here have run rampant and there is also quite a bit of deadheading to be done; a lot of work ahead of us, no doubt. But all the toil will have been well worth it as we got to see the sweetest flower of all, our little Texas treasure.


 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Liquid Ripples

The topic for the Weekly Photo Challenge is Liquid and comes fortuitously for me as you will see, later in this post.  Water can have a very calming effect and, with everything that’s happening in the world today, we could all use a few moments of tranquility to reflect, which is why, instead of heaving seas, raging rivers and tumbling waterfalls, I’ve opted for more peaceful scenes. The first two images were captured in Snowy Range Pass, Wyoming.

The next two pictures were taken at Sylvan Lake and Palisades State Park, South Dakota, perfect places to sit and meditate.

Wisconsin also has some very scenic spots in which to enjoy some relaxation time.

These gently rippling waters lead me to an opportunity to share a link with you that I sincerely hope you will try. My eldest grandson, someone of whom I have written about in several of my previous posts has recently started a podcast called Exit The Echoes. I cannot say enough good things about this young man, who recently became a father for the first time, and I am more than happy to give this new venture a mention here on WordPress.  The subject of his latest episode seemed to fit in so well with the pictures that I had in mind for this post, so please, if you can, spare a few minutes of your time to listen to  Meditation: Ripples And Echoes and I’m sure you will enjoy his liquid tones.

These last two pictures were taken at Whitefish Point, Michigan and Council Grounds, Wisconsin.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Liquid

Whose Zoo

Under normal circumstances nothing would induce me to visit somewhere like Brookfield Zoo on a sunny, mild Sunday, but when the Grandkids visit on a weekend and Sunday is the only available day, I have to brave the crowds and make the best of it.  As I suspected it would be, the place was packed! Luckily my Granddaughter is old enough to get around under her own steam and doesn’t tire easily so we got in a solid three hours of walking and seeing all kinds of wild and wonderful creatures. She even enticed me into the Australia House, something I swore I’d never do again after Mom and I were dive bombed by a giant bat, but I’m glad I chanced it as I got a nice shot of this kookaburra.

I always enjoy watching the giraffes. We caught this one in a confrontation with a couple of geese. The giraffe was a young one and was naturally curious about the two noisy interlopers in its enclosure. He bent down to get a closer look but the goose took exception and put up a bit of a fight. The youngster jumped back in alarm and then ambled off to chew on a few twigs.

My Granddaughter loves dogs so this one, an African painted dog, naturally caught her eye. No, I don’t think Momma will let you bring this one home!

Next up were the bison. I haven’t been this close to one of these animals since the time I found myself on the outside of an enclosure just a few yards away from one that they’d neglected to round up with the others, in Custer State Park, South Dakota. It was looking for its buddies and had snuck up on me, there being only one other hapless photographer between me and it.  Needless to say, I made a slow, backwards retreat to the car.

Granddaughter likes to get into the spirit of the thing.

On to everyone’s favorite, Tropic World. Well, everyone except me. I’m never very comfortable in here, with the birds flying about, but luckily they didn’t come too close and I was able to focus my attention on the animals.

The gorillas are always most impressive. especially the large silver-backed male who kept a wary eye on us and his family. There were several young ones playing about and I could feel for the mother as she tried to catch a few moments peace and quiet before they were back, jumping on top of her.

As is very often the case, many of the larger animals were taking a siesta and there wasn’t much action to be seen in either the bear or big cat enclosures.

 

It was a different story over by the sea lions. They were being put through their paces by some of the keepers and were demonstrating their fish-catching and flipper waving skills. Unfortunately there was a thick mesh screen separating us from the action but I found that if I zoomed in close enough with the camera, it magically disappeared.  All in all, quite a successful day, with one satisfied kid (after we’d stopped at the gift shop) and plenty of pictures to share.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Favorite Place

When Cheri Lucas Rowlands asked us for our interpretation of our favorite place for this week’s Photo Challenge, it will come as no surprise to some of you that I chose the Chicago Botanic Garden. On so many levels and for so many different reasons this is my go-to place, the place that never ceases to enchant me and to bring back so many happy memories. And where else would I go to see so much of my favorite color, purple!

No matter what time of year you visit the Garden there is always something beautiful to see. I have been here in all weathers and all conditions and there has never been a time when I’ve said I wished I’d stayed at home.

Every aspect of the place is pleasing.  Every path you take presents a different and spectacular view.  And the flowers are sensational!

Combine fantastic foliage and flowers with the appeal of various fountains, waterfalls and lakes and you have the perfect place to spend the day.

My mother adored the Garden and we spent many happy days here right up until a few weeks before she passed away. Our favorite spot in this our favorite place to visit was, perhaps not surprisingly, the English Garden, mainly because it reminded us of home and the other favorite places that we left behind so many years ago.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Favorite Place