|The day after my first chemo, one of our sweet twin granddaughters, Allison, passed away peacefully and totally unexpectedly in her sleep. We were devastated beyond imagining. She was 16 and ½ months old and the autopsy results were “natural death of undetermined cause”. 34 hours before she died her picture taken professionally and she looked perfectly happy and healthy. As I write this over a month later, it is still hard to believe that it really happened. She was so loved by her Mommy, Daddy, big brother Ryan, twin sister Anna, and her extended family including Mimi and Poppy.
The next few days were almost a blur of people doing wonderful things for the family and preparing for the funeral. Our daughter’s family had just moved into a new home and despite the fact that the neighbors didn’t really even know them, they brought food, sent flowers, and one gentleman even mowed the yard. A group of nurses had a star named after Allison; coworkers brought food every night for weeks; a group of classmates from college sent a magnolia tree for their new yard with a medallion with Allison’s name engraved on it; a group of Correctional Officers brought food and a monetary donation; friends of ours had 25 trees planted in a National Forest in Allison’s name; Ryan’s kindergarten class collected money for a brick with Allison’s name on it at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum; a co-worker donated a week’s vacation time to Karen; someone Karen met on-line in a Multiples Support Group sent necklaces to Ryan and Anna with Allison’s picture on it; their daycare planted a “Memory Garden” for Allison; and the list goes on.
When Allison passed away, I acquired a new perspective. My Lymphoma became a blessing because it brought us here – otherwise we’d have been in Gulf Shores, Alabama when Karen needed us. Derek, her husband, had just had foot surgery the day before so he was at home instead of at work when Karen found Allison.
My chemo has been uneventful and I am grateful that I have almost no side effects and remain free of the typical Lymphoma symptoms. After the first chemo, I saw the doctor and told him I believed the enlarged lymph gland under my arm was gone and he confirmed that so we are confident the chemo is working. We are staying in the Terre Haute KOA and plan to be here until mid-October when my 6 treatments are done and I have a PET scan that will, hopefully, indicate a full remission and begin bi-monthly maintenance treatments. Then we will get back on the road. It remains to be seen if I will have to fly back to Indiana for the maintenance treatments or if I can get them in other out of state facilities.
We have been traveling locally spending time with family and friends, attending grandson’s soccer games, and even had a visit from some of our Surfside pals (where we stayed in Port Aransas, Texas) who live in Springfield, Illinois. We did meet a couple of interesting gals from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana (where we had just been) in a 50 year old Shasta trailer that they bought in Kokomo, Indiana. This was the 3rd vintage trailer they purchased together and pulled home with the truck they co-owned for their husbands to help them refurbish. Both of their mothers were named “Rose” so they planned to decorate this Shasta with pink roses or a Roseate Spoonbill. Genee was a dental hygienist and a member of 6 women’s camping clubs including “Sisters on the Fly” and Kaye was wearing a t-shirt that said “Get Away Gals” on it. They acquired their 2nd vintage trailer by cleaning the seller’s teeth. I asked if they sold the trailers they refurbished and they were appalled – they plan to use the new Shasta as a guestroom. We exchanged phone numbers and they offered us a free place to camp and T-shirts if we return to Breaux Bridge during the Crawfish Festival and agree to work in their booth. And we met a couple from the Dallas, Texas area who said they felt like they were in the jungle here in Indiana because of all the lush green trees and ground cover since the green in Texas is really sort of a gray-green.
As of June 10, our 42nd Anniversary, we have been full timers for an entire year. We can truly say of this last year “It has been the best of times and it has been the worst of times.” We look forward to resuming our traveling and have no intention of stopping anytime soon.