This isn't exactly what I anticipated writing on my blog. We've been on vacation since September 23 and expected to be back home by now (October 18). Taking our camper (a converted U-Haul truck), we drove from our home in the northwest corner of Montana to Boulder, Colorado where we met the folks at Paladin Press and picked up some more of my books. From there we went to Kansas to spend a week with my family. After a great visit we headed south to Texas to meet up with some friends there.
While in Texas I received an email from my son to call my mother in Kansas. My youngest sister had died. My sister had heart surgery to replace a valve they'd put in many years ago but the second surgery had gone well and many months had passed without problems. News of her death was a complete surprise and the last thing I expected when I called my mother. We drove the five-hundred miles back to my mother's that day, arriving just before midnight. The funeral was held four days later and we all bid a final farewell to our youngest sibling.
Two hours later, back at my mother's home, my stepfather passed out. An ambulance was called and he was rushed to the hospital. He'd had a stroke. He's been in the hospital since that time as they ran tests then began treatment and physical therapy. He's recovering well but it's going to be awhile before he gets back to normal.
In one short week my mother has had to deal with her daughter's death and her husband's near death from a stroke.
Now everyone has gone home except my wife and I and our two-year-old grandson, Scott. I have one other sister that lives nearby and is in contact quite often.
It is times like these that give us pause to consider the lives we lead and the assumptions we make. We are thankful that we had our earlier visit so that we got to see my sister just prior to her passing. We had no idea that this would be our last opportunity to spend time with her. We assumed that we'd see her again. We were wrong.
Our stepfather's stroke was another unwelcome surprise. Again, there had been no warning signs or signals. One day he was getting along quite well for a man who was on the wrong side of 80. The next day he was laid up in a hospital and couldn't walk, could barely talk, and couldn't write his name. Our assumptions regarding his future and his assumptions regarding his future were both wrong.
This would be the place where a deep thinking person would insert some profound statement putting this all in perspective. However, since it's only me, there are no profound statements … just a few thoughts: Cultivate patience. You may never get a chance to apologize for harsh words or thoughts. Do not put off opportunities to do things for others. The chance to brighten their lives may never come again. Spend your time wisely. Hug your children, your spouse, your parents and your siblings. Finally, life is short and very uncertain so be thankful for every breath you take.