Stumbling My Way to Joy 3

There was a break in the usual winter weather; the snow cover was gone long enough to reveal the leaf litter and fallen tree branches which had been ignored in the fall. If only my husband would do something about it, I inwardly murmured. If only he hadn’t spent so much time hunting in October and November, the leaves would be picked up and the lawn made ready for winter’s snows. His disinterest in the way the yard looked added to my general gloom. “Something has to be done!” I became the nagging wife I had long vowed I would never be. “The yard has to be raked.”

Husband waved me off, heading upstairs for a nap instead. “Well, (I called after him, a slight attitude coming through here) I am going outside. Somebody needs to do it!” He replied, “Instead of that, just make me some cookies.”
Indeed. Cookies. There is work to be done and he wants me to make cookies? Harrumph. I put on my coat, grabbed a rake and went out to the yard.

The side yard was never officially graded and smoothed when the house was built. Rock outcroppings, large trees, and shrubbery thickets created an uneven landscape which gave it a charm surpassing the neatly manicured terrain of development housing. Charming it was, yes, but requiring manual, not machine labor to maintain. I raked, and fumed, and murmured some more when my foot went into a hidden-by-the-leaves depression as I took a step. Sharp pain followed the crack I heard. Oh. No.

Somehow managing to hobble back into the house, I started up the stairs on my hands and knees. “Umm, honey dear, we have a problem.”

A trip to the ER took care of my broken foot, his nap, my yard raking and any cookies I could have made. I looked forward to six weeks of plaster cast on my driving foot.

Meanwhile, the Rhode Island baby was in and out of the hospital. My helping trips were over for the duration. “As soon as I get out of the cast, I will be there.” Husband and son left for a college-visit trip, leaving me alone to do the stairs on my rump. Totally helpless to anyone now, the grip on my life line had become one of desperation. Joy comes in the morning. But what morning is that, Lord?

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Stumbling My Way to Joy 2

Beautiful September, a time of harvest and transition. I was called to Rhode Island to await the newest family arrival, our second son’s second son. The two year old at home would need a grandmother’s care. Leaving the family tension behind me, I drove north. The newborn Jonathan, with his dark eyes and shock of hair was a precious bundle as is any new babe. The morning after coming home from the hospital his mother came to me to say that he had not wanted to nurse all night long. Was this normal? How did my five sons act at first? Did they ever not want to nurse? “Never!” I replied. They were always ready, willing and able. We were both puzzled.

As the day wore on, and he continued to refuse any intake, I became alarmed. This was certainly not a good thing, and he would soon be dehydrated. I have never wanted to be a meddling, interfering mother-in-law, but finally had to speak up. “You need to do something. Take him to your pediatrician to see what he says.”

The doctor’s word to her was less than comforting. “If he won’t nurse, then give him water in a bottle.” What? This mother knew that would never work. No baby worthy of the name will choose water from a rubber nipple over a mother’s breast. I fussed, trying to keep my concerns pushed out of sight. Evening came; Son #2 arrived home from work. “It would be a good idea to take him back to the hospital and see what they say, don’t you think?” My fretting level had pushed through the do-not-meddle mandate.

That September evening darkness encroached further into our lives as we began to hear words of possible heart malfunction, or malformation in our little one. Hospitalization. Heart catheterization. Surgery. All on this little seven pound darling? On his 9th day the first of his eventual five surgeries and 6 catheterizations was done. What had looked like a perfectly formed baby boy on the outside hid a scramble of wiring and disorder on the interior.

Attempts to correct the situation continued for months. Jonathan was in the hospital more than at home. Week after week. Procedure after procedure. His other grandmother and I took turns doing two week shifts to care for the two year old while the mother was at baby’s bedside.

The two year old was upset at missing his mother; the family at home was upset with my absence. Tension swirled around as a tornado searching where to touch land. The lifeline was still there and I was hanging on to it fiercely.