Sunday, August 16, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Well, Norma's not even left yet and she's missed already.

It's 11:00pm or so and I just can't sleep. Normally, when Richard and I head to bed around 10-11pm, this is 'our time' to talk about the day, update me on what's been going on at the hospital, cuddle..... (of course), talk about how lucky we are, talk about things we need to do or don't want to forget, talk about how Richard's feeling, and well, just us, down-time. We're a banter-all-day-and-joke-all-day-nothing-is-serious-all-day kind of couple, but when we head to sleep, we get to talk 'for real'.

Anyhow, a week or so ago, I stopped at the store to pick up some thank you cards for some specific people, and then some that I just knew I was going to need. As I sat there looking at the thank you cards and what they said, our parents (mine and Richard's) popped into my mind. All through this journey I give my 'shout outs' and 'thanks' to everyone who pops by with something, helps with the boys, sends cards, well wishes, and much much more. But there are behind the scenes people like my friends who listen to me 'let it out' when I need to and do a lot more too. And there are our parents that have helped in ways that 'shout outs' and such just can't get a grasp on. Saying thanks just isn't enough. That day in the card store, and many other days through these 2.5 months, I've wondered to myself,
"How can we ever thank our parents enough?"
"When do we thank them? Formerly, like. Properly, like?"
"Should I pick them up a card right now?"
"No" , I think. "I'll wait until this is all done. And then, I can do something really nice and really special."
I think I picture things I've made with the boys when we do crafty stuff during the day. Maybe a special dinner. I don't know.

Norma is heading back to Nova Scotia tomorrow. She's coming back in 21 days or so, just as Richard's next round of consolidation chemo starts. I'll be back to work when she returns (mind you just once a week, and sometimes twice), and watching my friend Erica's kids once a week like she'll be watching mine once a week). Norma planned this very carefully to be sure that she was leaving at the best time possible, while Richard was feeling good, numbers are coming up, and appointments will be fewer and fewer.

But I'm left here, awake right now wondering, as I did in the card store that day. How do you thank someone for putting their life on hold to help you with yours?

I was planning on sending Norma a letter/card while she was in Nova Scotia. I started it a couple weeks ago, knowing that she was going to be heading back there. But then, why just thank her in a card? Why not let everyone know how wonderful it is to have Norma staying with us? Plus, I know she'll be checking the blog at the library in Baddeck, and she'll see this soon after her return home.

Norma came from Nova Scotia about 8 weeks ago, maybe? Leaving behind her husband, Bud, her dog, Java, her mom, Sadie, her brothers and their families, many friends, and 'her summer'. Her giving up her summer meant the boys could still have theirs. Sure, AJ knows that 'Daddy is sick', 'Daddy has Leukemia', and 'Daddy has to go to the hospital a lot to get special medicine', but other than that, he's pretty unaware of the whole situation because instead of being taken on drives back and forth to the hospital 1.5 each way or being taken care of by different people each day or every second day, he's been able to have a 'normal summer' full of lots of fun. Norma driving Richard to almost all of his appointments during her stay here, once Richard was out of the hospital, has meant that I can stay home with the boys to keep their lives 'normal'. Today, for instance, was spent at a playground,then finishing a sandbox, then wrestling and reading books, then playing in the sandbox, and then getting to see Grannie and Daddy when they came home from today's appointment instead of the boys spending most of the day in the car seat. It also meant, since I wouldn't be able to drive Richard every day, that Richard didn't have to be taking the volunteer driving service so far. Which has been nice for him. I can't believe how hard it would've been for him to ride in a car with a stranger going for his chemo and then feeling nauseous, and not getting to talk or vent about the day with a loved one. Norma being here has also meant that Richard has had his mom here, so that I can keep being his wife, instead of his mom.

So, Norma drives Richard back and forth to the hospital every day, and picks up prescriptions. But there's more.

There's lots of other things that Norma has been doing while she's here that help out, that only she, Richard, or I (or others who have toddlers, perhaps) can understand just how helpful they are. Beside my laptop here, I keep a calendar where I jot down things the boys have said, new words for Dexter, or milestones I want to put in their 'baby book' (the blog). Inside of that calendar is my other piece of paper where I write down the things I don't want to forget to thank Norma for. Here's a snipit.

Thank you Norma....

1. for offering to pick me up coffees while you're out.
2. for walking Dexter up the stairs when my hands are full. (man that cute little bugger tries to escape sometimes)
3. for 'getting me' and the way I am.
4. for wiping underneath of Dexter's highchair.
5. for not emptying the top rack of the dishwasher.
6. for wiping my kitchen table all the time (which I grossly neglect).
7. for understanding 'how I can be' when I'm vacuuming.
8. for your many games and puzzles you've played with AJ.
9. for your many trips with Dexter to Tim Horton's with just you and him. It's not often that Dexter gets to have special alone time with any of us.
10. for vacuuming my stairs and landings.
11. for watching Dexter with or without Richard while I've taken AJ to swimming lessons.
12. for the many times you've put either or both of the boys to bed while I've been out or outside.
13. for picking up groceries!
14. for understanding how important coffee is.
15. for getting that great bed for yourself to set up downstairs and make into your own little cozy space. I feel a lot better knowing that you feel comfy.
16. for loving the cats and giving them the extra attention they deserve.
17. for introducing us to those awesome chicken pizzas.
18. for reading stories with the boys.
19. for having a sense of humour.
20. for washing off the top of the stove.
21. for moving laundry into the drier.
22. for bringing laundry upstairs.
23. for even thinking to make your knitting chair match my living room and kitchen.
24. for being a mom and 'making sure that Richard takes his medicine'.
25. for worrying about Richard.
26. for coming to watch AJ and Dexter's swimming lessons and when you helped with getting them dressed afterwards.
27. for not minding when your sheets weren't washed when you got back from visiting Richard's grandpa.
28. for coming here, for being here, for being you, for being a mom, for being a Grannie.
29. for learning the boys' routines and what parts of their routines are 'flexible' and 'Grannie-able'.
30. for the many other little things you do that may have gone unnoticed or unwritten.

We love you. We'll miss you while you're away. We look forward to your return and your company!

Enjoy your time away! Call to talk to your baby as often as you wish!! He is, after all, your baby!!!

The boys are going to be asking about you every day!

I can picture Dexter tomorrow morning...

"Gah-ee? Gah-eee?" He'll yell down the stairs every time the door opens.

Call to talk to the boys whenever you want! You know when bedtime is and 'isn't'.


Steph said...

Lovely tribute - she seems like a special mom! Glad she's been there so much to help out!!!

Kristi K said...

aww I have tears in my eyes! That was the most heartfelt thank you to your MIL. Richard has a very special mom and you, AJ and Dex are just as lucky.