Archive for June, 2015

“THE BETTER TO SEE YOU WITH, MY DEAR”

I’ve been procrastinating posting —  recently only every other month.  Have been living my life, rather than writing about misadventures — fewer of late — less perils than pearls. Today’s the last day of June, so here’s what’s been happening.

Dr. Gail Schwartz, my expert new ophthalmologist, a petite dynamo, performed a trabeculectomy and cataract extraction on my right eye the end of April. This time all went well, unlike the glaucoma and cataract surgery on my left eye over two years ago when I lost some vision.

And I still shudder when I remember how close my son and I came to colliding with a car running a red light straight at us on our way to the hospital.  (See “Fasten Your Seat Belts” March 2013) The idiot didn’t even slow down, sped away that dark March morning after missing us by a fraction. Both cancer survivors, we didn’t need a reminder of life’s fragility. However, an occasional nudge doesn’t hurt.

Fluid pressure in my right eye has been fluctuating from low to high and back again — Dr. Schwartz assures me this is normal, and will stabilize eventually. She’s examined me frequently post-op, and I’ll see her again in three weeks. My sight is clearer with both cataracts removed — and she’ll operate on my left eye in October to improve drainage, lessening  further visual field loss.  Concerned about my left eye, I’ve been practicing driving with it closed — just in case. As I’ve noted, Our Creator thoughtfully gave us two of most parts.

Last Thursday, Dr. Jennifer Cooper, my caring dermatologist, cut off a suspicious spot on my right forearm for biopsy — whatever the report, it’s unlikely I’ll lose that arm — and I’ve got another one on the left. Former dermatologists previously excised a melanoma and a squamous cell carcinoma. I’d spent many childhood days on the beach and in the ocean at Breezy Point in the Rockaways.  Burning, peeling and freckling were routine.  In adolescence, my friends and I basted ourselves with baby oil laced with iodine to deepen tanning at Edgemere Beach. Then there were the years basking in the Hamptons.  Who knew those with pale Celtic skin would someday pay the piper?

Other doings: At the end of May, Angel and I drove to my nephews’ house in Southampton, and I visited my cousin Paul Beatty and his wife Audrey next door. Paul had been on dialysis for ten years, had heart surgery last year, and several complications since. I was shocked to see how ill he looked since I’d seen him in September. We talked about our close family, especially our parents, and the good times we had at our grandparents’ house in Brooklyn and at Breezy. As I was leaving, he asked “When are you coming back?”   “On June 29th,” I said. For the past year, each time I saw him I wondered if it would be the last.

On the way home, I stopped to meet three friends, librarians at the East Meadow library, for lunch at our favorite Friendly’s. We’ve kept in touch since I retired, and enjoyed catching up with each other and what’s going on in Libraryland — not as dull a place nowadays as you may think.  Less colorful than Disneyland — but with its own unique characters ambling around.

Angel and I stayed overnight at Garden City’s LaQuinta, and the next morning visited our friend Eleanor at her assisted living home in Lynbrook. We’d bonded 18 years ago, both working part-time at the Peninsula Public Library, both treated badly by the cantankerous assistant director.  El’s a marvel at almost 92 — good, cheerful company — proudly showing pictures of her granddaughter’s and grandson’s weddings.  Since breaking her hip, she maneuvers deftly in a wheelchair, though she’s practicing using a walker. She loved Honey, and is as charmed with Angel — so were other residents, smiling and petting her as we passed by..

The next week, a delightful afternoon at The Baltimore Science Museum with my grandsons and their mom.  The toddler experimenting with a light bulb exhibit.  Gleefully trying to catch multi-colored scarves air-blown up and out a glass enclosure.  Making music play on a harp without strings, moving his hands through apparently empty space. The nearly one-year-old pulling himself up to maneuver a ship’s helm. Splashing his fingers in a water display. Playing with other babies in a room filled with foam blocks, board books, mirrors, and other fascinating toys. Memories I’ll treasure, but took photos of the little boys absorbed in their activities — and, for contrast, one of the imposing dinosaur skeletons in the lobby.  Deep thought alert: They once had their day. Tempus fugit.

My first grandson turned three on June 23rd, and we marked the milestone the following Sunday with a picnic in a nearby park — the reserved pavilion decorated with a Happy Birthday sign and festive balloons.  Pizza, watermelon, pineapple, fruit juices on the menu.  A shark piñata the children whacked enthusiastically with a bat.  Goody bags to take home.  Relatives, friends, other parents with their toddlers and babies.  The birthday boy’s mom and dad baked a shark-shaped birthday cake — my son’s talents are multiplying as he matures. More pictures of a memorable day.

I didn’t see Paul again.  He died peacefully at home on June 28th, at 81 years of age, his wife and five adult children at his bedside. He decided to end the debilitating dialysis a week before, after respiratory distress.  I’ll be going to Southampton again for his wake July 1st and funeral Mass July 2nd, to be celebrated by his friend since kindergarten, Msgr. John Martin, at The Basilica of The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. My cousin was an exceptional man — a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and friend.  Wise and kind, with a wry, captivating sense of humor.  A devout Catholic and Eucharistic Minister.  Very successful in advertising and publishing, retired from McGraw-Hill.

My son and I are thankful his “Uncle” Paul  arranged a prompt appointment with top doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering after my son’s Hodgkin’s Disease was finally diagnosed at Moses Taylor Hospital — near The University of Scranton, where he was a senior.  A grueling, then experimental regimen of  chemotherapy and radiation at Memorial cured my boy’s initially misdiagnosed, advanced disease.  Worried and frightened only a year after my husband’s death from pancreatic cancer, I had called Paul, knowing he’d do everything he could to help us, as he did so many in his time on earth. He’s reaping his well-earned reward — and will keep helping us from Heaven.

On Saturday, July 4th, The North Sea Beach Colony will celebrate its 100th anniversary at a party on the lawn above the bay, across from my nephews’ house. I’ll be there wearing red, white and blue. Beer, wine, pizza and salad will be served — hot slices guaranteed — baked on the premises in a traveling truck. Many good people of the Colony have died since I first came to this Eden almost 50 years ago, but their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are now enjoying the beach, the peaceful environment, and each other. I’ll clink a glass of wine or two toasting Paul, his sister Mary Denise, my sister Mary Beth, my mom, and the others who’ve gone ahead of us.

Pizza, salad, wine and beer probably won’t be served in the afterlife — though we can’t be sure.  But I know God will provide treats and wonders we can’t imagine with our finite minds. We’ll be surrounded by love, though —  and that’s what matters in the end.  It’s sad that some, busy with empty distractions. don’t notice the simple joys and pleasures all around them. They’re missing the big picture, too — don’t see the forest or the trees.  Here’s a good place to put: “There are none so blind as those that will not see.”

By the way, I’m not a fan of Sondheim’s music, but if you haven’t seen the movie “Into the Woods” take a look.  Johnny Depp’s sly cameo as The Big Bad Wolf was worth twice the price of admission.

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