Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Checkout Line

When my Diddy died from West Nile virus in 2002, it was a hard pill to swallow. Granted he got to take the Leach Express Checkout. Went from perfectly healthy to being taken off life support in less than two weeks.

Once admitted to the hospital, started his "Ten Day Trip Down The Nile."

No  rehab, nursing home or hospice for this one. Whenever we'd (the three Sib's) call him "Old Man" his response was always "That's MISTER Old Man, to you."

As much as I miss him, I'm so very glad his journey was through the express checkout...just like our momma's.

She made it through the express checkout in one minute flat. That was a harder pill to swallow, especially at the age of seventeen but in hindsight am grateful she did.

I also call it the Great Escape. For some reason our family has been blessed with it. When it first happened in 1977, thought of it as a curse and spent decades beating myself up over all the "what ifs."

At the age of (almost) fifty seven, realize how lucky I've really been. So what I had to move away from my sister and leave the best job I'd ever had, raking in money hand over fist.

That job helped us to get where we are now. Tim had a more than a two year struggle to even find a job but now has a fantastic one, albeit four hundred miles from what I call home.

When our Diddy died, had been 'keeping company' (his term) with a sweet woman around his own age for more than a few years. She was sharp as a tack, went back to school in her sixties after raising three boys alone after her husband died at an early age to get her college degree and was the epitome of a southern woman. She lived right around the corner from him in East Point (our childhood hometown).

She owned 25 acres on a mountain in Blue Ridge, Georgia and she and my Diddy spent a lot of time there together, working on a little shack in the middle of God's country.

She spent those 'Ten Days Down The Nile' with us, me and my two Sibs. She was heartbroken when he died...just like us.

She did okay and we all remained close. She bopped along in life well into her late eighties, then hit a bump in the road. After going to the gym and working out started to feel pain in her legs. It escalated in twenty four months and wasn't a pleasant journey. First moving to assisted living (okay place but I'd kill myself...just sayin) then after a while couldn't even get out of her recliner so just slept there. It was a really nice recliner one of her sons bought for her, the  kind which tilts forward to help you stand up. The problem was now she couldn't even do that.

So she was basically sitting in a chair waiting to die. I wanted her wait to be over. I think deep down she did too.

Then she was hospitalized for too many reasons to go into, and it all kind of went downhill from there...not that she was on top of a mountain to begin with.

Through all of this and much more, she still kept a brave face on and accepted each new complication with more strength than I my age of fifty seven.

Then as if she hadn't been through enough, this past week suffered a major stroke.

As horrible as all this sounds (and is) was made even worse by the fact that she was still as sharp and mentally alert and unfortunately knew what was happening to her.

She was still a smart and intelligent woman... trapped in a body so badly broken and worn that without a miracle, wasn't going to get better but increasingly worse.

That just blows.

BIG time.

bitch, please...
  That was the only way to put it.

My sister and I prayed for God to take her sooner than later because in our book it was way overdue.

This wonderful woman didn't deserve this kind of life and simply couldn't understand why she was being put through such torture.

I was in the kitchen this afternoon cooking dinner for a co worker of mine and her family. Her mom has debilitating MS and dad is battling back from cancer. I had my Bose speaker cranked up with my new favorite radio station streaming from Cocoa... 98.5 The Beach. It's through my phone so when I get a text or call it notifies me with a ping.

At 5:09 my phone pinged. I looked at my cell and saw this message from my sister:

"Elizabeth is all well!!!"

I sent back:

"With our Mama and Diddy?"

She replied:

"Yes. Hallelujah!"

It's over.

And not soon enough.

She is whole again...smiling and can jump up, dance and sing!

And I'm dancing a jig here on earth for her as well.

Thank you, Elizabeth for coming into our lives. Thank you for making my Diddy happy. He loved working on that little cabin in Blue Ridge with you...and he loved you too.

My kids have fond memories of days spent there as well.

Before meeting you, my kids never knew you could drink water from a creek and it be more pure than what they got out of the tap at home.

Life is a journey, trust me I know...but never had to endure what sweet Elizabeth went through this past year.

I bet she's working the Front Gate up there right about now...after all she's been through, and should be. I hope they had her shade lipstick, she always put her lips on.

My own three kids were given their marching orders years ago. When things get bad for me or make things bad for them.

"Do it."

Just bring your dads' (seemingly) ten pound TempurPedic pillow and hold it over my face till my feet quit kicking.

Today makes me realize how extremely lucky I am, even with the ten year debacle we've been through.

Rejoicing for Elizabeth's release and continuing my journey on this long and winding road of life.

Till next time...COTTON

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