(Before I get started, credit goes to Joanne for the bingo title, because she might read this!)
Cousins Weekend had arrived! My sister Joanne and I had planned to drive down to Santa Cruz together, as she was going to be picking me up from my meeting with my transplant doctor at 4, after her own meeting. This way, Howard and I did not have to take two cars to Stanford. Something positive came out of the appointment being cancelled. I was able to go with Joanne to her meeting in Pleasanton. All I had to do was kill time shopping while she was busy, and our weekend started a few hours earlier than it would have!
Now, I am capable of spending extended periods of time in a mall without making a single purchase. But Friday, I had two things I don’t always have: money and a mission. I had my own little “pajama party”. Most of the pj’s at Penney’s were on sale and I wanted to stock up for my hospital stay.
Pleased with my purchases, we were on our way!
So, how did the weekend come about anyway?
It isn’t something we do all the time. This was the first…and I hope not the last.
It all started at our family reunion for the Italian side of my family back in a March. We were celebrating the arrival of my grandfather at Ellis Island in March of 1914, so it was the 100th anniversary of the Ottone’s in the US. Several of my cousins and I had become Facebook friends and we had been chatting online. At the reunion, we talked about getting the girl cousins together, but we didn’t set a date.
When I posted about having the transplant coming up, I was seeking out people to have fun with, before the process started. My cousin Maria jumped in and said we should really do it. So we came up with a date for July. It was another positive thing coming from the land of rare disease. These silver linings are out there and they are not hard to find!
Maria graciously offered her beach home. We cannot thank her enough for hosting this magical weekend. What it turned out to be was a fabulous time to get to know some people we had been related to all our lives, yet hadn’t had the chance to really know.
My Italian grandparents had five children, who went on to produce the next generation numbering 24, 13 of which are female. We got together at family gatherings when we were young, but most of us did not see each other outside of that. We did not go to the same schools, and there was quite an age gap between the older and the younger cousins. I hardly talked to my older cousins. I was one of the little kids and was pretty non-existent in their eyes. I don’t blame them. If roles had been reversed, I’m sure I would have done the same. Fast forward about 50 years, and it’s amazing how much closer in age we are now! A five year gap means nothing. This was an opportunity to get to know some pretty amazing people. I had been very excited about it and it was all I had hoped for. There were eight of us in attendance.
When I was expecting my second child, I talked to my mom about her having 6. I was so in love with Trevor, my first, that I couldn’t imagine feeling the same way about another child. But she assured me that the heart expands to accommodate all of the love you will have for all your children. She was right, of course. I think about that a lot now. My heart has expanded many times over. I cannot believe the amount of love I have in my life. As I continue to connect with people I have known, but of whom I’ve lost track, and meet new people, I am often overwhelmed to the point of tears, with the good fortune I have. I have so many incredibly wonderful people in my life. And this weekend was another opportunity for my heart. We talked about our early memories, our lives today, our kids, our jobs. There were family stories, a few secrets and a few surprises. It was a low key weekend, with no pressure to do anything but be together. We ate, we drank, we laughed. Thank you to my sisters, Marilyn, Susi and Joanne, and my cousins, Maria, Joan, Leslie and Laurie. I found the perfect sign at a shop in Capitola to summarize, which I gave to Maria. I certainly can’t tell all!
On the last day, Joanne and I went to Salinas (not exactly on own way home) to see our dad. Visits with him are hard for us. We remember the incredibly active and social man he was late into his 80’s. He is 92 now and barely knows who we are. He no longer speaks very much. But his eyes lit up when he saw us and that alone made the extra hours on the road so worth it.
That night, Joanne picked up our brother Gerry from the airport, as he was visiting from Wisconsin this week. Monday I got the pleasure of going on a hike with him and having him over for the afternoon. Joanne had made a comment on Facebook about “sibling bingo” and filling her “card”, as she had seen or texted or talked to all of the sibs in one day. Thus the title. I can say that with the exception of my brother Bill, I had a full family bingo card for the week, even though we had not all gathered in one place. I didn’t get to see Gerry today as I was busy, but I’ll get to see him again before he leaves.
And what was I busy with today?
It was colonoscopy day! So exciting! The truth is, having been warned on how awful the prep for this is, I have to say it it was not as bad as I thought. Now, mind you, it was unpleasant. I did not enjoy it.
But it just goes into my file of invasive procedures, along with all the others that I keep in my head. I’ve gotten through everything. I will get through more. I was highly motivated to get it done. As usual, I was treated extremely well by the good people at Stanford. The procedure went off without a hitch. I passed (no pun intended!) with flying colors and the results are on the way to my wonderful insurance company now.
This transplant should be back on track! I should know soon when everything is going to start again. I am ready!