A few days after my cousin returned to Colorado I flew there to celebrate my actual birthday a couple of days later. She said we would have chocolate cake, my favorite. I anticipated a cozy evening in front of the television with her and her husband after a nice meal and a slice of chocolate cake.
On the second evening of my visit she said we would go to a Polish restaurant she wanted to try. I was game for it and we headed out at about five thirty.
As the drive took us in the direction of the airport, she said she had to fess up and I suggested, “That you don’t know where we are going?” She said something and stayed on track.
We got closer to the airport and I said “It looks like we are eating at the airport.” To which she said that she and her girls have done that before. I am thinking we could’ve moved out of the arrivals lane, but not only does she not, she pulls up to the curb and announces that Mika, my daughter, would be joining us for dinner. Still not getting it, I said, Oh, wouldn’t that be nice?” In a last ditch effort to make it clear to me she said, “Her flight is due at 6:30 and it is 6:33!” Alas it dawns on me that this could happen and I ask, “You mean she is really coming?” A few minutes later she came through the doors waving at us. At the restaurant, we got some drinks before an excellent dinner with much chatter and laughter.
Back at the house we settled in and Mika and I retired with our glasses of wine to sit and catch up on her news since our last visit. When our eyes were closing we said goodnight and she went to the guest room across the hall from mine. Sleep came to me soon.
On Friday, my actual 80th birthday, in the early afternoon we went to the Eldorado Canyon State Park and absorbed the amazing beauty of gigantic slabs of upturned hillsides, the locals call “Flat Irons” formed during mountain building the last time the Rocky Mountains rose up from the ground.
Theresa’s daughters and the elder one’s fiancé arrived early in the evening. Jesse and Zack lugged in a giant pot for the homemade spaghetti sauce which they promptly set about preparing. Zack was stationed at the sink cutting up 52 tomatoes while Jesse cut, and then diced a jumbo onion. I lost track of the process as Annie presented me with a gift bag containing dark chocolate morsels – always a good gift, and everyone was talking and laughing and visiting. In time we sat to enjoy the wonderful dinner and just that quickly it was over and with their giant pot now full of the savory sauce, the youngsters bid us all a good evening as they left and we waved them off. Another day well spent.
Saturday after leisurely breakfast we set off for the airport again. My daughter returned to her life further west and we turned back into local traffic to stop at a store before getting home. The girls stopped by for another visit before going on with their agenda for the weekend.
Theresa and I went to the Cathedral of Denver for Mass, arriving early since she was due for Choir rehearsal before services began. At communion time, I stood up to get into the line, but I had not taken a step before the vigilant Sacristin arrived in front of me and served me the Holy Eucharist.
Going into and out of doorways had become a difficulty for me and worried my cousin. I was also thinking about how I would get up the steps into my house. I called my friend-neighbor, Marilyn, to ask if she would help me when I got there , she said yes without hesitation. When I pulled into the garage and called her, she let me know she had gotten injections in her eyes earlier that day, but thought she could drive her car, and that her husband forbade her to walk. Somehow it all worked out and she made it safely home.
For awhile I was thinking I would not be able to go anywhere if I could not get back into the house without help. Then I realized that sitting onto the small bench I keep at that doorway and swinging my legs into the house, like getting into a car that is too high for me would work. I had done that before the trip to Colorado, but now I needed that kind of device for the first step as well and then the ah ha moment occurred when I remembered my two step aluminum ladder, that I have had for decades. Putting it in front of the first step, sitting and bringing my legs onto that step was the key.
A day of rest, and then I committed myself to the business of replacement of my left knee, the worse of the two. The Orthopedic Surgeon I had seen last spring advised me that I was “…driving on two bald tires.” The deed will be done mid January and I am advised that with a new knee, I will be in for four to six months of pain. Sigh.