|Four year ago when I adopted Joy at age 11|
On the afternoon of New Year's Eve, I was furiously working towards my goal of completing 50,000 words on my goat book so that I could celebrate a quiet evening at home with Mike. At 5:00, however, everything changed. My sister-in-law called to say that my mother-in-law had "taken a turn for the worse." She had been diagnosed with lung cancer in the summer, but when we had seen her on Christmas Day, she seemed fine. She was eating well, joking, and playing cards with the family. I found Mike outside and told him we needed to head over to his mother's house as soon as he finished the evening chores. It was the last time I would look at my manuscript for eight days.
We finished up everything at home, got in the car and headed over to her house. My sister-in-law was there, making phone calls to relatives when we arrived at eight o'clock. We hadn't eaten dinner, so we brought some cold meatloaf with us and put it in the kitchen. As soon as I saw my mother-in-law, something in my head said that she would never see 2013. I don't know if she ever knew we were there, but Mike held his mother's hand for the last two hours of her life.
The next six days were spent driving back and forth from home to the Peoria area to help with funeral plans and be with family members as they flew in from across the country and around the world. It was the most beautiful celebration of her life as we all scoured dozens of scrapbooks that chronicled all of her travels and volunteer work. She and her husband, who is now in the final stages of Alzheimer's, had traveled to 44 countries, some for fun and some to do volunteer work, like their trip to Haiti as support staff for doctors who were caring for the people there. Over and over, the words, "a life well lived" kept going through my head.
And every night, as we drove home and I walked into my bedroom, I kept expecting my little Joy to greet me, hobbling across the floor with tail wagging. And then I'd remember that she was gone.
Luckily, my two youngest children were on break from college, so they were able to run the farm when Mike and I were absent. Still, it made me think about what would happen in a similar situation when all of our children have careers of their own in a few years. But I know we can't live our lives based on "what if."
In the midst of all this, my son's car broke down and had to be towed, which was followed by a $600 repair bill. And he and I just got home from a three-day conference. We've also had to get ready for goat kidding to begin. Trips to Memphis and Dallas to do TV shows promoting Ecothrifty had to be canceled. Memphis is rescheduled for March, but I haven't rescheduled Dallas yet. And the elephant in the room, which no one really wanted to discuss, was the fact that Mike's father will probably not be with us much longer either. So I feel like I'm in the middle of a huge life lesson on acceptance and patience.