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When a family member’s health declines suddenly, thoughts fill our hearts and actions fill our lives.

How lucky am I that my mom, who is almost 92-years-old, has been healthy and independent most of her life. Up until recently she  lived in a 3-story townhouse. She’d attend my exercises classes, shop at Costco for her favorite foods while perusing for clothes or books from the best seller list. While visiting my sister and her great grandchildren, her husband would load her Kindle with an ample supply of books and online classes.

One day, without much warning, her neighbor texted my sister and I to say he was bringing her to the ER because of abdominal pain. Once at the hospital, her CT scan showed an obstruction in her colon. She went home with instructions to return in a few days for a colonoscopy. Two days later, before her test, her pain returned. This time there was no time for delay. They retested, then sent her right from the ER to the operating room. At 2:00 a.m., after five difficult hours, the surgeon said he needed most of her colon and lower intestine removed. She had the BIG “C”. I cried…a lot.

Hundreds of thoughts ran through my head. Each day was touch and go but through all the agony, pain and tears, she managed to get stronger. My sister and I would divvy up duties, as we usually did when she was hospitalized in the past. I took care of communicating with her medical team and reached out to all her family and friends while my sister picked up her mail, watered the plants and took care of finances.

She received lots and lots of calls that surely made her feel important. I know it has helped her heal. The big question remains: would she be able to move back home? Drive again? We think not. Would she agree to chemo? The jury is still out. For now, she lives in a lovely board and care, eats well, does her daily exercises and enjoys visits from family and friends. She is so lucky! And so are we!
Whatever your family dynamics are, for my sister and I, this experience, unlike others in the past, has been a blessing. As Thanksgiving approaches….I know what am grateful for! What are you grateful for? Miracles come when we recognize what they are. No matter how trite they may seem.

This Thanksgiving, I am so thankful to be able to take this journey with my mother. I am thankful for a good night’s sleep. I keep those not as fortunate always in my memory. I am thankful for food, as I remember the hungry. I am thankful for my health, as I remember the sick. I am thankful for my friends, as I remember those who are alone and friendless. I am thankful for my freedom as I remember those enslaved.

I wish all my clients, friends and family kindness and thoughtfulness. I encourage all to recognize what you are thankful and grateful for—especially this time of year.

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