Friday, December 2, 2011

we visit Cousin Mary (m)

The plan is all set.  I am to take the aunties to visit their Cousin Mary who has kidney cancer.  Cousin Mary, no longer able to live in her own home, has moved down to Plymouth to live with my cousin KK (real nickname) and her three adolescent daughters and her husband.  And her large golden retriever.

I tell my cousin KK not to do anything as I know she has a full plate with the kids, her aunt and her job.  I'll bring lunch, I tell her.

The night before we are scheduled to go down there, Aunt X calls and tells me KK is in the hospital.  "Chest pains."  My cousin is in great shape and is only 51 years old, but her father died of a massive heart attack when he was 47 years old.  I'm worried.

Aunt X thinks we should still go down there for the visit.  I tell her I don't think that is a good idea given all the commotion going on.  I know she wants to see her cousin.  I know she more wants to get out of the house.  I tell her I'll take her somewhere else.

She insists we go.  I call KK at the hospital to tell her we'll take her Aunt Mary out for the day and not to worry.  During the conversation, KK says her heart is fine.  "Probably just anxiety."  I'd be at Betty Ford if I were KK.

The aunts are excited like little kids when I arrive to pick them up.  Aunt Y turned 87 years old on Sunday and is quite proud that she dressed herself today.  I didn't have the heart to tell her that her pants were on backwards.

I make two trays of stuffed shells, a salad and some chocolate chip cookies so KK won't have to cook for a couple of days.  More importantly, I make a reservation for lunch to get everyone out of the house and give KK some breathing room as she is being released from the hospital in the morning.

We get to the house and the girls are out of school to take care of their Aunt Mary.  Mary graciously offers us coffee but doesn't know how to work the Keurig machine.  The dog needs to be let out, which Aunt X does.

Now picture this:  KK is arriving home from the hospital.  The first thing she sees on her street is her dog...on the loose.  Then she sees my car in front of her house.  She enters her house to find a roomful of people and Christmas decorations strewn all over the place (the girls wanted to surprise her by taking something off the "to do" list).  Her septic system is broken and Aunt Y just went to the bathroom. 

I can see my cousin start to get stressed.  If she didn't have a heart attack before, she is headed for one now.

I stand up and gently but firmly grab the aunts and Cousin Mary by the arms and say we are headed to the restaurant.  One of the girls runs outside to grab the dog back in.

We go to an elegant restaurant overlooking Plymouth Harbor.  We have salad, water,  grilled fish and steamed vegetables.  Very healthy.  I've noticed some restaurants do not even offer bread anymore.

Just as we are finishing lunch, KK enters the restaurant.  She took a shower and changed her clothes.  She looks great.

"Let's go for a drive down memory lane," she says.  We all hop in my car and head to the beach where  I spent all my summers with KK's family, working in their variety store.  It was my camp.

We see the old cottages and recall all the old boyfriends and friends.  The seances we teenage girls hosted.  The pebbly sidewalks where I walked barefoot for eight weeks, developing callouses on the soles of my feet.  The rock in the middle of the ocean with the American flag painted on it.  The store counter where I ate as much penny candy as I sold.

After the hour-long tour, we head home, dropping KK and Mary off.

We all agreed that it was an unexpectedly great day.

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