After the holidays, we started planning our spring trip. My sister and her husband had recently bought a property in the North Georgia Mountains with plans to build a house, so our itinerary would take us south to son Pat's home north of Dallas, along the Gulf and up to Blue Ridge, Georgia. Then things started to go wrong. After a trip south fraught with nasty weather, when we reached Dallas one of the camper slides gave up the ghost. We were able to open it and complete a weekend visit, but once we closed it to leave, it was done. After no luck getting local repairs, we returned home.
Two weeks later, repairs made, we decided to try again and headed through Tennessee to Georgia. We visited friends and neat parks, had a great visit with my sister and started back home. After an Easter visit with granddaughter Jessi in Tuscaloosa, we stopped in a north Mississippi campground only to have the other slide go wacky. We made it home, thinking we had encountered the worst luck with our two year old travel trailer. Fortunately, it was still under warranty, but we were leery of what the future would hold for that camper.
We didn't know at the time, and would find out a few months later, that my husband was already being attacked by lung cancer. Soon, possible difficulties with the camper were the least of our worries. Our camping season ended in August.
The diagnosis should not have been a surprise. He was a long time heavy smoker. He had never had a job where he couldn't smoke. But his health had always been incredibly good. In spite of favoring high-fat, high salt foods and having a genetic predisposition to high blood pressure and cholesterol, his had always been excellent. I don't remember him ever having the flu, and he rarely missed work. Neither of us took medications and we seldom visited the doctors other than routine physicals.
After the diagnosis, all of that changed. Our schedule revolved around doctor visits and treatments. The cancer metastasized to the brain. His luck still held in some respects. He had no pain, no loss of appetite, --basically no symptoms. But after whole brain radiation last spring, movement, speech, and cognition began to be affected. The last two months have seen a dramatic decline in those areas.
In spite of that, we have had some high moments since the diagnosis. Two grandchildren were married, and three graduated from high school. We also have a second great-granddaughter. We did make some short camping trips this year with the help of our friends.
Despite efforts in the last two years to downsize to a one floor house, we are still in our old two-story with no bath or bedroom on the main floor. Earlier this week, an early morning trip upstairs nearly resulted in disaster, and we decided it was time to take up his sister's offer of their ranch house while they are gone for the winter. We made a rapid, haphazard move the next day.
It is a lovely home and there are no steps, but it's difficult giving up everything that is familiar. We don't want to move anything we don't need but every day I make a new list of things to get from our house. Instead of worrying about whether the camper slides will go out, I wonder each morning what new difficulty will present itself in the most mundane daily tasks. Physical therapy has helped some in his movement, but everything is an effort. His walker requires careful negotiating and constant supervision. His speech is often hard to understand and I can't always discern his wants. Falls are a constant fear. Most of all, his personality has changed and his sense of humor is about gone.
Family and friends have been wonderful with offers of help but there is little anyone can do. Our kids, currently living in Texas, West Virginia, and Illinois, have made visits to give much appreciated help. One grandson came to help with the move, and another grandson helped to rebuild a rotting step at our home. A former student of mine who recently lost her husband to lung cancer reached out this week with advice and a sympathetic ear. The student becomes the teacher.
So we plug away. My writing gives me some escape early in the morning. I'm not sure where I was going when I started this blog entry, except to say appreciate what you have when you have it. I look at photos of my husband from two or even one year ago and can't believe the changes. We have wonderful memories to cling to. I don't know what else to say.