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Rallying together
Rallying Together (Mouse Over)

Dear Kim:

The situation with my mother—like the weather in St. Louis—changes from moment by moment.

When I called the hospital yesterday morning, my brother had already left for New York. He has an appointment today to review my mother's case with his own heart surgeons.

My sister, who was just finishing chemo earlier this week, finally had clearance from her oncologist that it was OK for her to go visit my mother in the hospital. Hospitals, as you may well know, are not a good place for sick people. They are crawling with germs. Or is it that germs are crawling in hospitals?

Angie, the border collie and I watched E.R. when it came on West Coast time last night, so now she and I are now authorities on hospitals and germs.

Television fantasy life aside, we will know more today about what needs to happen.

The doctors at Rush are adamant that my mother needs a bypass. But as I have said, that means a lot of risk.

I am stunned and thrilled at how quickly my family is making decisions and how, after years of estrangement and fracture, we seem to be working as a team .

When I spoke to my sister this morning, she said that my parents have finally agreed that they are not in a good position to take care of themselves at this point in their lives. My father is missing too many cues, things can change too quickly. My sister, to whom much of their care has unfairly fallen over recent years, can no longer assume this responsibility. And she is the only one who lives in the same city as they do.

Until this morning's decision.

When I called at nine o' clock this morning, she told me that they have decided to sell their apartment in Chicago, close their practices and move to New York!

They plan to get their own place near my brother.

Ian has begged them to move to New York for several years now. He even retrofitted an apartment for them on the bottom floor of his town house for them to live. A sweet place that is too small and has stairs they cannot safely negotiate.

Sweet or not, they have never wanted to do that. They value their friends and cultural life in Chicago. My father loves his work as a psychologist.

Still, after all these years.

Still, at the age of 87.

Still...

Their independence is very important to them. So they have not wanted to move.

And most important, when Laurel got sick last year, they made it clear that they would not go anywhere. Not even for a day or two for a vacation.

As my sister went through various stages coping with her illness, there were weeks when she didn't want to see them. She, too, needed her independence and to know that some of her strongest support could come from outside the family. Nevertheless, my mother was firm that she would not leave town in case Laurel changed her mind and needed them.

Well, now Laurel has one more month of chemo. Hosanna! Hopefully, that will be the end of this dreaded cancer for all time. I hope. I pray. I try to believe.

And now, it is very clear that life as we all knew it has changed and that differentl arrangements need to be made. Quickly.

My mother was too weak to talk on the phone when I called so I talked with my father.

He said, "Is this the poet?

I said, "Yes."

He said, "Is this the playwright?"

I said, "Yes."

He said, "Is this the impresario?"

I said, "Yes."

He said, "Is this the pain in the ass?"

And I laughed and reluctantly said, "Yes."

And he said, "Will you come visit a lot?"

And I said, "Yes."

So that is where we are.

Regardless of whether or not my mother goes through with the surgery, they are going to move. My sister and I will have our hands full, as well as other body parts. Helping them to sell their place in Chicago. Find another one in New York. Pack and move everything. Get them settled.

And throw them the biggest good bye party our imaginations can hold.

Later,

Joan

Friday, Jan 20, 2006

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