On Saturday we flew from Denver to Sacramento, leaving beautiful sunny weather and landing in a torrential downpour. Everything looked flooded and grey. It was the start of our Spring Break, and we were spending it with Grandma and Grandpa.
Saturday was M's 7th birthday. The night before, she opened the presents I gave her (dolls and clothes) and we had cupcakes for dessert. Her dad and her dad's mom gave M books for her birthday that had arrived earlier that week from Amazon. Saturday morning we got up and finished packing, and then took a taxi to D.I.A. M has traveled a lot and is a great traveler, so she sat in the back of the taxi quietly for the long drive to the airport, and then we went through security. By now, the routine is familiar: have your ID and boarding passes ready, take off your shoes, put your stuff in the bins and push them along the conveyor belt to be xrayed, walk through the scanner, wait on the other side to retrieve your stuff, put your shoes back on.
We took the underground train to the gate and then found a place to have lunch. After lunch, we found our departure doors and sat down to play cards. Finally, they announced boarding and we found our seats on the plane. We flew Frontier, which is only 4 seats across with an aisle down the middle, so M got the window and I had the aisle. She was wearing her "Birthday Girl!" pin, so just about every person we passed wished her a happy birthday. At the end of the 2.5 hour flight the attendant gave M a foil-wrapped stack of chocolate chip cookies, which delighted her.
Dad, Mom, and my younger brother met us on the curb and we dashed through the rain to throw the bags in the trunk of their car and get in. The drive back to Auburn took about an hour, while we chatted about the flight and the weather. It's been about 3 years since I've seen my brother, who is what we used to call Retarded. He's not able to speak, but communicates through a combination of sounds and gestures, and I've always been able to understand him. Maybe that's a result of only being three years older and closest in age. He had filled out since the last time I'd seen him and looks a lot better; I was happy to see that moving from San Jose to Auburn seems to agree with him.
My mother, who's been fighting Lymphoma for the past 15 months, sat in the back seat with M and me on the ride back to their house. She looks good too, but I know this can be deceiving. Still, it was good to see her getting around without her wheelchair, walker, or cane.
At first, we just hoped the rain would stop and sat around and caught up with the local doings and told stories about what we've been up to. My folks were delighted to see M and took us to a Chinese restaurant for her birthday dinner, and there was a beautiful chocolate cake from the best bakery in town waiting for us when we got home. My mother gave her more books and she got a Target gift card.
For the past several days, we've been just hanging out with my folks, talking, watching a few movies and Jeopardy, playing cards, and making meals. It's been lovely to be able to abandon the alarm clock and the watch, and simply move through the days without having anything that I NEED to do. M is sharing a bed with me and has been velcroed to my side throughout the nights, so I haven't been sleeping well, but there haven't been many demands on me, so I'm doing okay.
My brother went back to his home on Monday, and M and I drove down to Sacramento to see my dear friend S. We lucked out and three kids in his culdesac were available to play, and so the kids ran around and had a great time while the grownups got to talk. S lives in a gorgeous neighborhood and has great friends, and no matter how long I get to stay, I always wish I could stay longer. We got home about bedtime, just time to pop M in the bath and then go to bed.
Today I drove my mother and M down to Kaiser in Roseville to get her blood drawn. Although she's been recovering well from the surgery she had back in Jan. 2010 to remove spinal tumors, the other stuff hasn't been going as well. The last round of Chemo she was scheduled for had to be cancelled because her platelet count was far lower than it should be. Today's blood work was to see if the numbers had come up so she could try again, but this afternoon she got the report that her platelet count is even lower than before. We are waiting to hear if her Chemo will be delayed again, but we all feel certain it will be.
She says that the weird thing is that she feels better than she's felt in a long time. I can see how she is able to get around much better lately; we went to lunch after Kaiser and then stopped by Toys R Us so that M could buy a Backyardigans DVD, and Mom was not as tired out as I expected her to be. She is downstairs now, talking to M as she plays. My dad is not home yet from golfing. They are both 74.
We fly home on Friday. It will be our last weekend in the rental and I am supposed to close on the new townhouse on Monday, then back to work and school on Tuesday. I plan to move into the new place on the following Saturday. I know that like every body does, I will go about my business, take care of the things I need to take of, and hope for the best. But I wonder if my mother will ever see my new place, or if this will be our last visit. There is no way of knowing... we can't predict the future. I'm glad we are here now.
3 years ago