Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas with Eleanor


We got a late start on Christmas this year. We were busy with Nationals, work and life in general. It seemed to get underway when we went to our annual Christmas concert with Don and Eleanor. This year we enjoyed the symphony orchestra with the Colorado Children's Chorale singing. One of the highlights of the concert this year was when the man who was the Love Boat captain read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to music. He did a really lovely job.

The concert was both enjoyable and very hard for me. I silently cried through most of it. Even writing about it now chokes me up. I could not help but think that next year she would not be here. I am amazed at the grace with which she is able to handle all of this. I hope that when my time comes I have such dignity. We had a party earlier in the day and Eleanor was very tired. She had tried to give her ticket away, but in the end she attended. Larr drove us down in the van, dropping everyone off on the main level. Ethan and Don helped her walk without falling on the ice. Ellie opened doors and did what ever else was needed. My heart is so thankful that my children are those kinds of people. I went home and thought about it all for a while before going to bed. I had to find a way to enjoy the holiday without crying my way through it. Ironically, it is Eleanor that gave me the strength to find a way to do it.

When we first found out that Eleanor had cancer we asked her what regrets or wishes she had. She said she has had a wonderful life and does not have many regrets. One of her hopes was that she would make it to Christmas. With each passing week we were encourage. Perhaps, it seems, we had caught the cancer on the earlier side. Family near and far made plans to come for the holidays. Shuttling people to and from the airport were planned. Snow stones around the country got in the way a bit, delaying some arrivals. Caroline and Marty came from the Thursday before to the Saturday before Christmas. Doug arrived Saturday. Truike and Jan made their way from the Netherlands to Denver on Monday. Rex arrived Perrin, Anne and Calvin flew in from Jamaica on Tuesday. Laura was stuck in Seattle and finally arrived on Christmas day. Once everyone was here we felt more at ease.

On Christmas Eve (Wednesday) Rex and Doug went with Don and Eleanor to a doctor's appointment. The doctor gave Eleanor a new pain medication to try. It did not work out well and the day was not a good one. We all worried that Christmas day might not be a good one as well.

However, she went back to the original medication and had a better day on Christmas. The house was full with 18 of us. Everyone enjoyed the company of the others. Doug, Perrin and I cooked up a veritable feast. We saw a slide show of life in Jamaica. We showed a slide show of our year. We previewed Jan's movie of the trip Don, Eleanor, Doug, Laura, Truike and Jan took in 2007 and we watched a movie about Holland. We opened presents. Then my mom, Aunt Kathy, cousin Marianne, Evan, Lilia and Mark joined us for a wonderful dinner. After dinner we chatted for a long while. At one table we told silly stories about bad things we did to our siblings. My mom and my aunt have some of the most side splitting stories that I will have to recount for you another time. Everyone had fun. Even Eleanor told some quiet jokes and was in a silly mood. Most of the time she just sat back and took it all in. I am thankful that the day went so well. Our holiday cheer continues the for next few days. Each one seems like a bonus from what we had hoped for. I even made it through the day without crying too much.

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