A Touch of Nostalgia

I try not to talk to much about my personal life in this blog. It’s boring, and I’m sure most people don’t care. I prefer to stick to more interesting topics, like books, writing and video games. But this blog is, at times, a record of significant moments in my life. Fair warning, this post is all about me.

Shortly after we bought this house, a little over one year ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm. By the time the doctors discovered it, it was too large to remove via surgery. No one’s quite sure how much time she has left; this aneurysm was apparently present for several years before she became aware of it. I choose to believe she’s still got several strong years left in her; of course I want her to be around to meet her great grandchildren, which are still a few years off.

It was a blow. I’ve written briefly about it before, but my grandmother and I were very close in my youth. I lived with her (and my mother) for the first four years of my life. After that, I slept over at her house at least once a week. This was never something I was forced to do; it was always something I wanted to do. Something I looked forward to every week. And when I got old enough to have friends I wanted to hang out with instead, the sleep-overs stopped. Yet my family still went to my grandmother’s house for dinner every week. And when I was in high-school, I was able to bring friends with me to share dinner and the visit.

My grandmother has been a constant presence in my life. She even wrote the dedication in the bible my husband and I used at our wedding. I simply cannot come to terms with the thought of not having her here. So it was difficult to receive this news when my bank account was smashed from the purchase of a new home and I had no means by which to go and see her.

My visits home have been sparse since I moved to Canada. International travel is expensive, and my husband and I have never owned a car (since owning a car in Toronto is just a needless expense). My grandmother expressed pride in my ability to purchase a home and understanding that I had no means by which to reach her. The Internet is a wonderful thing; it allows me to talk to my grandmother face-to-face every week via Skype. But nothing quite compares to being able to visit in person.

Worse, several months after this devastating news, one of my cousins was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease (or Hodgkin’s lymphoma), which is a form of cancer. It was my choice to move away from the place I grew up, and the family I was close to, and build my life elsewhere. And I have never regretted that choice. But I have also never felt the distance between us so keenly as when members of my family needed my support and I was unable to give it to them.

This post has started on a negative note, but a sad story isn’t what I’ve set out to tell. Luckily, the cancer my cousin was diagnosed with has a high survival rate for people his age. Youth works to his advantage. His last chemo treatment took place on October 8th. It is my hope sometime shortly after this post goes live, he will be considered in remission. And though there’s no way for my grandmother to be rid of her condition, she’s still going strong a year later. In fact, she’s going out more. The ladies in her church keep her busy, and I couldn’t be more thrilled whenever she talks about going to lunch or sipping margaritas with her girls.

But given the situation, you can imagine how I jumped at a chance to go and visit everyone. My in-laws, amazing people that they are, decided to go on vacation to New England this year to hike the mountains during the fall foliage. And though it was several hours out of their way, they offered to take me home ‘on the way’. My amazingly awesome friend Rowena stepped in and offered to drive me home. And suddenly family was a lot more accessible than it has been the past five years.

This isn’t the first time I’ve visited my home town after moving to a much larger place. It’s always interesting to see how much, or rather how little, it’s changed. Businesses and restaurants cycle through but, for the most part, it’s the same old town it’s always been. But it’s surreal to see how much my cousins have grown. I’ve mentioned this on twitter a few times, but I was the oldest grandchild in the family. So I ended up babysitting most of the others when they were only knee high. Now most of them dwarf me! Having to look up to hug my youngest cousin felt very strange. But it was great having a chance to see everyone.

I stayed with my grandmother for most of a week. We watched some of our favorite movies and shared some of our favorite snacks, just like old times. My mom came up for the weekend to visit with me and we attended the Selinsgrove Market Street festival together. For me, it was the first time in ten years being able to attend. It’s always been one of my favorite events. I got to see my cousin Nick’s soccer team beat their rival for the first time in almost a decade as well. He’s a defender and he had several saves throughout the game. It was great! My aunt told me he had his name and his picture in the paper the next day. I also got to see the Bloomsburg Fair, first time in over a decade for that as well, and hung out with my good friend Kristin and her husband. I finally got to see their house and meet all four of their cats.

It was an amazing visit. I had a great time. And although I know my grandmother worries it will be the last time we see each other in person, I’m hoping for several more. Next time I want to bring my husband; school teachers can’t just take off in the middle of the school year, so our next trip will have to be planned around his schedule.

Thanks to everyone who hosted me for however short a time, from dinner to over-night. I tried to be a good guest, and I hope to be able to host each and every one of you one day in return.

2 Responses to “A Touch of Nostalgia”

  1. Katy Huth Jones Says:

    Aww, I enjoyed reading your nostaglic post. Change is never easy, and it seems the only constant in life IS change! I pray your Grandmother will get to see her future great-grandchildren, and I hope your cousin IS and will STAY in remission! I’m very thankful for the internet, ’cause otherwise you and I would never have met. (I actually did not mean for that to rhyme…lol.)

    • Striker Says:

      Thank you :) I’m really glad to have met you as well. While I was visiting, Trent told me how much your emails met to him and how helpful it was to have someone who’d been through the experience to talk to. I don’t know if he said the same to you, but now you know ;) I’m so grateful that you reached out to him and to me.

      A lot of people have encouraged me about my grandmother’s condition. Some people have family members who have survived ruptures of the aneurysm and lived for several years after. I’m still praying she has a long time before the rupture, but I’m encouraged to know that might not be the end and this condition might not be the death sentence she fears it is. And I’ll continue to think positively and hope, because I believe those are two very powerful forces in this world.


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