Last Christmas, life sent my sister a curve. A really bad one. Let me tell you a little about her first. Even though she's retired, she is still a workaholic—always for someone else. Since she has no children of her own, she “adopts” everyone else’s. If one of us is ill or had surgery, she’d drive over (no matter how far) to help. She’s the family conduit—the one who keeps our families connected. When Mom’s Alzheimer’s got to the point where she couldn’t live alone, my sister moved in to take care of her. That’s the kind of person she is. Always ready to help others.
Before she drove from Detroit to Indy for Christmas with our other sister, she’d driven to St. Catherines, Ontario and spent a week helping our dad’s cousin (who’s in her late 80s) sort through 50 years of “stuff.” Then she drove across Michigan to help our daughter celebrate a milestone birthday. Following that, she drove to Cincinnati to celebrate an early Christmas with our brother and his family. Then she went to Indy—pushing herself, even though she was starting to feel bad.
She didn’t just feel bad, she had the flu. Influenza. Yes, she’d gotten a flu shot. Obviously, it didn’t protect her. The flu then went into pneumonia—diagnosed at a Walk In Clinic. They gave her meds but that didn’t help enough. Three days later, she ended up in the hospital. The flu plus pneumonia gave her what the doctor called a “sick” heart. What none of us knew was that the chemo she’d had twenty years before for breast cancer had weakened her heart. The flu plus pneumonia pushed things over the edge. She was so lucky she was at our sister’s and not at home alone. After four months and outfitted with a heart monitor and defibrillator, she finally came home to Michigan.
Weakened yet always wanting to help others, she tried to get back to her old life. She still tires out often, still pushes herself. She even went to St. Louis this summer to help our cousin sort out our aunt’s house after she'd passed away.
So why am I talking about all this now? Yesterday, we celebrated my sister's milestone birthday. In fact, it was a surprise birthday party. With all that she went through last year, when we all worried that she wouldn’t make it, I’m so glad we were able to celebrate another birthday with her. You just never know what curves life will send so (I know this is a cliche) live life to its fullest. Don't worry about what might happen. Live for today.
Diane Burton writes romantic adventure . . . stories that take place on Earth and beyond. She blogs here on the 8th and 30th of each month and on Mondays on her own site: http://dianeburton.blogspot.com/