The past year has been a big trial for my family and me - but even though several trials continue - I am so happy to say that it's FRIDAY!
I don't mean that in the typical, "thank God it's Friday" kind of way that so many in the workforce utter each and every week - but I am very pleased about this particular Friday.
Last year in August, my father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. As a lifelong non-smoker, the diagnosis took us all a bit by surprise. Never once did he even consider a cigarette or cigar. Yet he was afflicted with a form of cancer that typically afflicts smokers. When he was diagnosed, he was also told that his cancer was already Stage IV, which surprised us all as well. WOW.
In September my lovely bride flew west to spend 10 days with her dad - to be a helper, not really knowing what she might face while there since the original prognosis was that he had about 6 months or less to live. But during that time, he seemed to get a bit better. Upon her return, we started to plan and figure out how or when we might be able to get the family out there to see him before it was "too late." We determined that Christmas break would be the time, and so we started to plan for a Christmas vacation in sunny Southern California. While there we would be sure to visit my aunt in central California who has struggled with lymphoma for the past several years. We loving dubbed the visit our California Cancer Tour.
While in Southern California, celebrating Christmas, we went to the Disneyland Resort. We stayed at the Grand Californian Hotel in a beautiful 2 BR villa, overlooking the Paradise Pier section of Disney California Adventure. My father-in-law, the trooper that he was, came along and stayed with us for one night. He didn't want to go down to the park to watch the then-still new World of Color show, but he was able to see it from the window of our villa, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. The next day - he went with us into Disneyland! It was a crazy, crazy day for certain. That particular day turned out to be the busiest day in park history. A friend of mine who works there, visited with us at lunchtime while we ate (at Redd Rocket's Pizza Port) and told us that they were all afraid they would run out of food that day! The ticket booths stopped selling tickets at 10am... the earliest they'd ever done that. Crazy. And we were there. We didn't get on much that day due to the very, very long lines. Even using the wheelchair entrance for Pirates, we had to wait over an hour (the regular line was between 2 & 3 hours) - and then we got stuck down in the jail scene of the attraction as it had broken down. YO HO, YO HO kept playing for a good 20 minutes before finally they turned off the soundtrack, turned on the work lights, and started to evacuate everyone. By the time we were out we'd been down there for 30 minutes. All through it my father-in-law was such a trooper.
The months continued to pass, and his condition seemed to take a couple steps forward and then one backward. My wife went out to Southern California again to spend another 10 days with him this past June. While she was there - my grandmother, my final living grandparent, came very close to death. We thought that Julie would be going to a funeral while visiting her dad. While that didn't happen, my grandmother did die soon thereafter and I went out for a memorial service in mid-July. I stayed with my father-in-law while out west, and his condition had markedly decreased since I'd last seen him in December.
He kept telling us that he wanted to come out for a visit, but of course, that wasn't going to be possible. We determined to get out there and spend some time with him - at least Julie and the kids. I had a business trip for work scheduled for mid-October, so hopefully, we would be able to make it all come together and each of us is able to see him again. Then in early September, another shoe in our crazy year dropped - I was now unemployed. Just a week before Julie and 2 of the kids were scheduled to fly west to spend time with her dad.
We worked out the details, and by the end of September, my older son and I were on a plane heading west to spend some time with Esau. My son only had 5 days excused from school, but he enjoyed the time with his grandpa. (We also took a day to go to Disneyland while there... it was fun). My son had to return home, and I stayed on in California a few more days - when the younger kids and I all flew home. The day that we flew home, my wife and her brother took Esau to the doctor for a check-up visit. Upon their return home from the doctor, she told me that the doctor felt he had about 2 weeks or less to live. That prognosis turned out to be true, as he left this life 8 days after my kids and I returned to Indiana. Suddenly we were planning to go back to California for a funeral, which took place last weekend - a week ago tomorrow.
So why am I so happy it's FRIDAY? I'm thrilled, because after 7 weeks away - my lovely bride is finally returning home to me
, and to our kids. It was such a blessing to be able to "give her back" to her dad for a time when he really needed her... but it will be such a blessing to have her home once more. I have spent 5 of the past weeks running the house as a "single dad" - all while seeking replacement income for what was lost in September - and it makes me appreciate her so much more than ever before. She really does an awful lot, that as a homeschooling mom, goes entirely unpaid. She works just as hard, if not harder than most moms who work outside the home. I feel for all of those single parents who have to "do it all" each and every day. Especially when you throw in all of the taxi driving that we do for our VERY active teenager, our active pre-teen, and our just starting to get active, elementary student. WOW. It's not easy running here there and everywhere - making sure to keep those hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the vehicle (of life) at all times!
I'm thrilled that it's Friday... my bride is currently on a plane heading east. I get to pick her up in a few hours, and all will be right at home once more.