A most gorgeous rose David gave Rachel one June afternoon.
A rose creation by Abby (Play-Doh on our kitchen floor.)
Wood roses Brian sent me 26 summers ago from Hawaii.
We were engaged to be married and Brian was working at Barking Sands on Kauai while I was working at DARCOM in Alexandria. It was a hard summer being apart, but it did produce a box full of mushy love letters. They were good old-fashioned snail mail ones written and received EVERY DAY.
This an excerpt from the letter (dated May 21, 1984) that accompanied the wood roses. Brian insisted I not include ANY "mush". "Mush" can only be revealed when we have left the earth!
I have a needy knee. Five months ago I found out that I have arthritis--bad.
After examining the x-ray the doctor repeatedly asked me how old I was. "Forty-five," I said, "Just 45."
It turns out that my knee is that of an old lady--a very old lady. The cartilage is completely worn away. When Brian saw the x-ray for the first time this week, he, in his most eloquent way, said, "Whoa! Your knee is toast!"
The irony is so rich. The number one reason I had chosen to be an active adult and exercise regularly is because I didn't want to be a crumpled up, slow moving, poorly-oxygenated old woman. The image I held on to was that of a vibrant, thin, gray-haired octogenarian who was still able to hike and walk and play--to be whomever and to go wherever I wanted.
Me have arthritis? How could this be? How did this ever happen?
I used to run for exercise, but then for some reason my knee started hurting. Maybe I needed new shoes? Maybe I needed to stretch my quads more?
Eventually, I decided to forgo running and try working out on an elliptical instead. It was great. No problems for a good long while.
Five months ago the achey-ness was enough to send me to an orthopedic specialist.
I was given a cortisone shot and promptly forgot about any discomfort. I denied its existence and hoped it would just go away.
Four months or so later (right on schedule) the cortisone shot gradually wore off.
I was really hurting. The pain was waking me up at night.
I WAS EVEN LIMPING!
My kids joked that we needed one of those electric chairs that the old man, Carl, in the movie UP used to descend his stairs.
I returned to the doctor.
I had an MRI (to check for a torn meniscus.) It was negative.
Second cortisone shot.
This time I will not forget. This time I KNOW it is real. It will not go away. I still feel the ache--the knee ache and the heart ache.
I didn't know exactly what to expect, but I had heard of several rather unpleasant if not awful MRI experiences of my brother and dad.
Brian came with me to the appointment and just knowing he was close by was a great support as I was called into the exam area, removed all my jewelry, changed into scrubs, and was questioned about medical history and metal objects of any kind in my body.
I wasn't too surprised when I entered the MRI room to find that the set-up looked just like something off the silver screen. At that moment I was grateful to HOUSE for giving me a fairly accurate mental image of what I would encounter.
I judge medical personnel with how well they explain (step by step) exactly what is going on with any type of procedure. This technician was perfect for me--kind and caring and willing to answer every question I had.
"This will be easy," he said as he explained I would be put into "the tube" only up to my neck. (That was a huge relief.)
Gingerly I climbed onto the table, had knee propped in place, and was told to hold VERY still.
"It will be loud," he said as he handed me earplugs. (This I expected.)
Question: "How long would it take?"
Answer: "About 25 minutes"
Question: "Are you cold? Would you like a blanket?"
Answer: "My feet are a little cold. Maybe."
Question: "Is there any way to tell how much time has gone by?"
Answer: "Possibly," he responded and explained about the digital screen in my upward line of sight that would tick off five 3-minute intervals. (I did the math. That was only 15 minutes. I could do this.)
Question: "Is it ok if I fall asleep?"
Answer: "Sure. Some people say it sounds just like riding in a car."
I readied myself for the statue-like state.
Into "the tube" I went. Beeping and banging. Loud yes, but bearable.
Am I feeling an itch on my eyebrow?
My lips feel chapped.
Wish I had taken a sip of water right before.
I was tense, nervous, tried to relax. Deep yoga breaths, I told myself.
I watched each 3 minute interval pass and thought of my dad and Steven. They were very ill when they had their MRIs. I could do this.
Twenty-three years ago on June 2 (when I was 23 myself) Rachel made me a mother. It is a tough job being the firstborn. I should know.
Rachel is energy and passion.
She is an avid chef who gets absolutely giddy in Williams-Sonoma. She adores it so much that she has insisted on making her own birthday cake since she was 12--the more intricate and involved the better. This year she made the eleven layer Chocolate Transportation cake from the Death by Chocolate Cookbook. It was decadent, rich, and delicious!
Rachel is courage and persistence.
She works incredibly hard at everything she does, including practicing the flute FOUR HOURS A DAY. She makes very beautiful music!
Rachel is one-of-a-kind.
She is a gal of many talents including the ability to levitate a peanut M&M.
Rachel is goodness, exactness, and love.
The VERY COOL thing about this birthday is that I am exactly twice as old as Rachel. I am 46. She is 23. This will not happen ever again for her and I so we are relishing our special year.