In my last post I wrote about two major events which occurred in late 2016: my sister’s illness, and the Presidential election.
The rest of 2016 was dedicated to matters close to home. I just couldn’t afford to think about the election travesty, and anyway that wasn’t until January, if the world lasted that long. Soon Ellen shared the news of her illness with the rest of the family, so that I could openly discuss plans with my other sister Carla. We had just gone in October to visit our terminally ill cousin. Now we would go together again in early December for Ellen’s surgery.
Ellen had with her usual efficiency taken care of her underwear situation and organized her home. When Carla and I arrived the day before the surgery we were just in time to help her decide to place a groovy vintage couch on layaway. For one must recuperate in style. We met her at the hospital early the next morning. I won’t share a picture here, but she was as cute as a button, armed with a holy cards, one of which was that of St. Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer patients. But here we are the night before, sporting matching infinity scarves made by Ellen’s best friend Sherry.
During surgery there was nothing for us sisters to do, except walk from our hotel to Old Salem. Who was I fooling, thinking I would have been able to knit, to make something while Ellen was um, deconstructed? No, all we could do was look at beautiful things and buy some. Carla can always be relied upon to contribute to the local economy wherever we go.
The days run together in my mind, but Ellen’s surgery Carla and I were there the next day when she received visitors. Ellen’s oldest daughter doesn’t live in Winston and was starting a new job, so she was ordered not to appear for the surgery. Bailey and son Lyle were able to breeze in to see their mother, but Mary Hannah, the youngest, wasn’t so sure she liked being in a hospital room.
Mary Hannah’s reluctance gave me a great chance to wrestle her down into a recliner and hug her tight. We then passed the time looking at pictures of what she might like for Christmas.
Things like this, just in case you’re trying to think of a gift for her.
After a couple of nights Ellen was discharged from the hospital. While she waited upstairs for a wheelchair that never arrived, Carla and I sneaked into the hospital gift shop. How could we not have already thought of a going home treat for her? Because one couldn’t prepare for every little thing, I suppose. Neither of us had thought much about gifts, as our presence was surely the best one of all. The night was cold and windy, and Ellen wouldn’t have thought of bringing something warm but stylish to wear home. No worries. The sisters found a matching tunic, scarf and jewelry for the ride home. Because one must travel in style.
And did we enjoy getting to make her fashion decisions, knowing that in her drug addled state she was putty in our hands? Oh my, yes. She might have chosen the underwear, but we controlled the rest!
We helped bundle the patient, redolent with stylish accoutrements straight from the hospital gift store, into her husband’s car to go home. As her home was not close to the hotel, we did not accompany her. With our precious one in good hands, we repaired to our hotel, battling the winds whipping through the parking lot. I think I may have forced Carla right into the hotel restaurant, which to me by then could have been a five star destination. We were cold and tired, and were happy to have whatever the special was.
I may not have mentioned that everyone loves Ellen, her husband, and her whole family. I’ll bet there aren’t but one or two people in Winston that she or members of her family haven’t cheerfully helped, through a variety of organizations, or just on the sly, knowing someone could use a hand. They know how to give, meaning they give with no thought of receiving anything in return. Carla and I were certain that once we left town folks would be lining up to have a chance to return the many favors Ellen’s family has so selflessly given through the years.
Carla and I had the Hawthorne Inn Restaurant, along with its one waiter, almost to ourselves. In a sudden wave of giddiness brought on by worry, love, and exhaustion, we judged the diet coke and house cabernet to be the best we had yet encountered. We had loved our favorite girl right through her surgery and now she was safe at home. Nothing could beat that feeling.