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0 In aging/ musings/ Rudy Wilson Galdonik

Blueberries and Balsam — finishing well in New Hampshire

I’ve always wondered about my funeral. First, for any conversation to take place, two or more people will need to show. I’ve got two kids. They’ve got spouses, plus M might still be around, so I choose not to dwell on attendance. Rather, I wonder will people talk about the struggles? The challenges? Will they reminisce the antics? The time I slept through a gas leak and neighborhood evacuation? That time in the airport with the escalator ? Only a few close family members know that story. Will they laugh? I hope they will laugh.

If people laugh at my funeral, then, I will have lived a life

well done.

My first husband’s funeral was quiet, solemn. He died way too young. We were new in town. Moving boxes were still tucked in the corners of most rooms. So I threw a funeral in a majestic white Georgian with a large circular drive that was only a block from town.

When we arrived in our new home we didn’t look for a church. The cancer showed up the same week. It moved too swiftly. There was no time to look for a church. Without that connection, the only music at my husband’s funeral was a scratchy recording of a pipe organ that suggested Frankenstein lay somewhere in the bowels of the parlor’s dark basement. I hated that music. It suggested I had let my husband down. He deserved a party to celebrate his life.

Maybe my funeral hang up is because I should never have lived to see my thirtieth birthday. I was born with a congenital heart defect at a time when the only heart lung machine was a milk pump from a dairy farm and beer hose which hooked desperately ill children up to one of their parents as their only source of oxygen. (If neither parent was a viable option, compatible prisoners were offered time off to volunteer!) This system, cross-circulation, gave doctors 5 minutes to operate on a living, beating heart. Growing up, I remember the fear in my mother’s eyes whenever I pushed my limits. I wonder now if she ever contemplated my funeral during that time.

But I was one of the lucky ones. I was 24, a newlywed, before my heart began to fail. My first corrective surgery was the day before my 26th birthday.

Life is a challenge. Life is interesting. Life sometimes brings you to your knees in anguish and pain. But life is also full of blessings, joy and laughter. And I believe we have a choice – and I choose joy. I choose laughter.

Kids make me laugh. I’ve been blessed with two. And there’s M. Six weeks after my first husband died, I lay the local paper across the kitchen table and I asked, “Where do You want me to go?” And I felt led to a tiny little church that worshiped in a rented dank and dusty Mason’s Hall. M was one of the founding members of that church and his marriage had already dissolved before I arrived. During our first conversation, I knew God had plans for us as a couple – but that’s a blog post all it’s own. But the story still makes me laugh.

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God is in the details and I believe He is in the details of the journey that’s about to unfold. M is approaching retirement. We are moving to the woods — the hills of New Hampshire, where my hope and prayer is that I will finish well.

Join me on this journey, where I will uplift and encourage and share lessons learned for those who have wondered,

Is this all there is? Is this what it means to finish well?

 

0 In aging/ heart stuff/ humor/ misc./ musings

One Hour Kidney Cancer

I got kidney cancer last night. Fortunately, the disease only lasted an hour. The fact that I was the diagnostician had something to do with the length of the disease, but what else could I suspect when, getting ready for bed, the toilet water looked liked I had hemorrhaged? Then I realized these symptoms had been building for the last couple of days. Since I had no other symptoms typical of a UTI, kidney cancer just plain made sense.

As I lay in bed, trying to wrap my mind around my diagnosis, I wondered when I would find the time to pee in a bucket at my doc’s office, only to make it official. Then, my husband Mike showed up for bed. At first I didn’t tell him. I wanted to shield him from the pain. He likes me, or at least he tells me that a lot. Finally, I decided it wasn’t fair to keep the news from him. So, I sat up in bed and announced, “Mike, there’s blood in my urine.” For a moment he was despondent.  I like that in a man. Then he paused. “Ahhh, Rudy, do you think it could have something to do with the beets?” Oops!  It’s true. About a week ago, I started drinking a daily glass of beet juice. And that was around the same time my urine manifested a funny, much darker and robust color. A fellow heart patient had reported online that she experienced wonderful cardiac symptom improvements with daily beet juice, so I had decided to give it a try. As Mike readied himself for bed, I googled “drinking beet juice” and sure ’nuff, there on WebMD, the last sentence of a 5 page article mentioned an eery symptom of blood-like pee. Oh, well. . .

Here’s the really good news, when I climbed into bed before Mike arrived and subsequently cured me, I whispered a prayer to Jesus and it went something like this: “It’ll be ok, Jesus. I know we’re in this together.”

Have you ever had a scare, unfounded or real? And did you invite Jesus to walk alongside you?