“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

DSC04594We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations. (Anais Nin)

It has been quite an amazing week since last I posted. I did all that I wrote about and more: said goodbyes, had long talks with those closest to me, had a meeting of the Club (BCMA), watched a dear friend marry…She looked all shiny and new in her love, a radiant bride after a whole lifetime already lived as wife, mother, widow.

imagesOur friends in Chicago staged a farewell party extraordinaire, with foods gathered from the finest restaurants and bakeries the Windy City has to offer. Charlie Trotter’s rare beef tenderloin on Sarah’s brioche, cupcakes from Sweet Mandy B’s, world famous potato chips with rosemary, balsamic syrup, white truffle oil and parmesan cheese from the West Town Tavern,  caviar pie, champagne and Larry’s stand-up/knock down margaritas. Best of all was the company of our neighbors and the promise that they will let me cook for them all again, this time next year, in Asheville.

Throughout the week, always on my mind and in my heart, is Bud. Bud has fallen on hard times up at Lost Loon Lodge, quite literally. He spent 14 hours outside, through the night, in freezing temperatures after suffering a stroke. He found himself in this ignoble position because of choices he has made and we have respected. After my mother died he was clear about his intention to stay at Lost Loon Lodge in the tip of the Keweenaw up on the edge of Lake Superior. 300 inches of snow, soaring eagles, bears eating the bird feeders, failed plumbing, the same family of loons returning year after year and all of his incredible memories made with his life partner- there was never a question that he would stay. Over the past few years we have had discussions around the edges of other possibilities but really, we’ve all known that Bud would stay as long as humanly possible. This was the summer he planned to build his crypt at the back of their land.

Right now Bud has moved out of intensive care and into the rehabilitation unit at Marquette General Hospital. If you’ve followed here for a while you know that Marquette is a wonderful place 150 miles from that little cottage, a place where this family has gathered before. Right now, Laurel is at the helm and in the cafeteria (she reports that the menu of 23 flavors of jello has been reduced during these tough times). Bud is getting hours of hands on rehabilitation each day, growing in one dimension and not in another, unevenly. He is moving into less complicated clothing (hey! I moved into drawstring pants several years ago!) and determined to earn his release sooner rather than later. He seems to have a clearer idea of what that looks like than the rest of us; we are all still looking to doctors and therapists and social workers for answers.  

Major life events never seem to occur in organized fashion. As soon as we finish the transaction on the Chicago house I will head up there and see what I might do. Right now I feel relatively helpless, sad that he is struggling away from his beloved home in the wild and grateful that he is in very good hands for the moment. Our next two weeks involve back and forths, packing, movers, bankers and closings. The best I can do right now is hold him in my heart.

Oh! and send e-mail. One of the things that Marquette offers, as a regional care facility for the entire upper peninsula of Michigan, is a great e-mail service for patients. Bud has always enjoyed the blog here and he’s one of those people who loves mail. If you want, you can send him a note HERE. All you need to know is that his name is Eugene Avery, he is 81 and in room 388 in the rehabilitation unit. And you can attach a picture if you would like. Thanks.

So that’s it. Things are bittersweet and busy here. I’m taking this morning, just back in the middle of the night from Chicago, to catch up on mail, comfort the cats, enjoy the rain and a beautiful potted Persian lime tree that has mysteriously shown up on the doorstep. I need to track down the source. Meanwhile, my husband is sending me poetry:

It’s Monday

You’re not at the Zoo

The animals miss you

And I do too


21 responses to ““And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

  1. The thought of Bud lying out in the cold night alone for fourteen hours just breaks my heart. I’m glad he’s somewhere now receiving good hands-on care and rehab. I hope it all goes very well for him.

    Take care of yourself, Vicki. All these things are very high on the stress meter.

  2. Poor Bud. I hope he gets back where he wants to be.

  3. I sent an e-mail. I wish I were sure I wasn’t contagious, I run over the Skyway and we could sit together, watching the rain, contemplating the past and the future. As it is, know I am thinking of you. I wish I had thought about the lime tree. What a splendid gift!

  4. I will send an email later today. I cannot imagine what he went through, and I hope he will not lose any toes or fingers.

    Robin is right; your stress level must be through the roof at the moment, and little relief in sight. I’m glad to know that your days were full while you were gone and you had a good time. God knows that’s very important at any time, but especially now.

    I’d love a photo of the Persian Lime tree, and a guarantee that you will take it easy for at least a few days!

  5. My parents are 80 and 81 and I know how difficult it is for them to get used to something new. They could not make it on their own now, I think this fact is slowly getting through to them. All I can do is as much as they will let me… at the same time, trying to leave them as much to do as they can so they still feel useful. I think that is so important for the elderly… to feel needed and useful.

    I will send Bud some e-mail and pictures… he loves birds… our bluebird hatchlings are getting bigger every day.

  6. Ooh, I didn’t know the stroke bit or the lying outside in minus 20 for 14 hours. That is very worrying. He was super lucky to survive – tough old Bud!

    My dad is 89 this year and my mum 86 – they have a hard time just keeping up with things and I am 200 miles/3 hours away. But my sis is next door to them so we cope.

    You will cope too.

  7. I sent Bud an email, and will do so again.

  8. amarkonmywall

    You are all wonderful friends for encouraging Bud. I know that he is often torn between his independent self-reliant side and the part of him that enjoys friendship, conversations, and companionship. Now is an important time for him to fall to the side of being involved with others and relying on them for support and assistance. I am certain that friendly e-mails will really help so much in this regard. Thank you.

  9. Yes, indeed, I believe that Ella the Bella remained standing, and you’ll notice she was wearing flip-flops. I’m in Virginia now with her. I’ll be here until the 6th of June or so and then finding my way back to Florida.

    Thanks for the report on Bud. Bless him. On my way here, I stopped in High Point to visit an 87 year old friend who is like a mother to me. She has been there for the last ten years living with her son. Her strength is waning; her memory is going, and it was so hard to say good-by as I left her, knowing it would probably be the last time on this side that I’ll see her.

    I look forward to seeing you again. I’ll drop Bud an e-mail too.

  10. I love Rich’s poem to you.

  11. A man who writes poetry is a keeper.

  12. I sent an email with a photo of our two Golden Retrievers. Don’t forget to take care of yourself with all this stress going on around you!

  13. Hoping that Bud is feeling better and improving daily! Love the poem. Going to go look up what a Persian Lime looks like. 🙂 Tried to send Bud mail but it wasn’t working. I’ll try again tomorrow!

    Robin’s right about the stressors. Even good change is still stressful change.

  14. I hope things work out favorably for all involved. I already worry over what will my sister and I do if we are faced with similar circumstances when our mother ages. My mother has been adamant all of her life that she doesn’t want to be in an assisted living facility or nursing home if there is any way around it when the time comes. I already have tons of guilt about the entire subject. I can’t even begin to imagine the stress you must be under. *hugs*

  15. I sent an email. How nice that the facility offers that! He won’t know me from Adam, but at least it’s not junk mail!

  16. You and Bud have been on my mind.

    I just returned home after a lovely long weekend in Iowa watching Evangeline graduate and then helping her pack up the last 4 years of her life for the trip home. My email to Bud will have to wait for tomorrow as I am off to bed this minute.

    I’m glad your neighbors in Chicago made a big fuss about your departure.

    I’m glad you got to see your friend get married.

    And a quote from Anais Nin! What a lovely post.

  17. My mother-in-law fought going into an assisted living for years, and when it became necessary, she went with fear and trepidation. Within 2 weeks, she was right at home and loved every minute of it. Being in a place where ‘everybody knows your name’ and likes you really beats years in an apartment alone. Bud may find that he enjoys being around people more often. I hope so, for I would never want a repeat for him of what he went through!!

  18. Sorry that Bud isn’t feeling well. The journey of life has many twists and turns. Some we see coming, some we don’t. I ditto Kenju’s last comment. My grandmother fought going into assisted living as well. She didn’t want to live with those “old people.” (She’s 97 herself). But she went into assisted living a few months ago and now talks about her new friends.

  19. Love sent to you and Bud and many prayers also for all your needs.

  20. I sent Bud an email, and I’m sending you telepathic voodoo hugs. Be sure to take care of yourself, too.

  21. It is so easy to take on guilt because we’re not there with our loved one to take control of the situation. Even knowing Bud is in good hands doesn’t help when you feel you should be the one taking care of him. Been there, done that. By taking care of your own moving/selling matters and having that off your mind you will be better able to deal with Bud’s situation in the future. None of which helps right now, I know.

    In the meantime, breathe. Folks have your back.

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