This year definitely did not go according to plan. Although it got off to a good start, in mid-January it went off the proverbial rails when my mother fell midway between the kitchen and the dining-room table. Fortunately, I was right there having one of my regular dinners with my parents. Unfortunately, the instant I looked at Mom’s foot, I knew she’d seriously broken something and that dark clouds were massing on the future horizon.
It was a bad break: a spiral fracture of both the tibia and fibula, immediately above her ankle. There were complications that lasted until August; and Dad got sick, too. I made a new rule: Parents are not allowed to have simultaneous health crises in separate locations; and learned (not for the first time) that the universe doesn’t follow my rules.
Still, here it is mid-December and on Tuesday we’ll celebrate Mom’s 90th birthday. She’s not riding her bike anymore—and I know she misses that very much—but she’s getting around on her own, no canes or walkers. She and Dad remain snug in the home they bought back in 1980, never thinking that they’d still be there thirty-four years later. The house gives them grief, as all houses do (it needed a new driveway this fall and there’s a pesky leak in the laundry room) but it sustains them, too. Everything is familiar. What their minds sometimes forget, their bodies and habits remember.
In November, when everything was healed and (knock on wood!) back on an even keel, they decided to celebrate a little. They’d never really warmed to the “last car” they’d bought in 2011, so they went out and bought a new “last car.” If they’d asked, I would have wanted to be involved—because roles do change—but Dad negotiated a good deal. A better deal, most likely, than I’d have gotten, because I’m not at all good at haggling!
If I were to tack a subtitle onto “Christmas 2014,” it would be Stress Is Boring or, as a friend once described his similar situation: There are always problems; a good day is a day without a crisis. I’m grateful that there have been less than dozen true-crisis days this year, but the little stuff tends to blur all the other days together. I’ve pretty much stopped traveling; I’m not comfortable if I’m more than an hour away from my parents’ home. After all, the reason I moved to Florida back in 1997 was to be nearby when they needed me.
Luckily for me, after I cancelled my traveling plans, the Embroiderers’ Guild of America stepped up to fill the void. Every year, in conjunction with our national seminar, the EGA arranges whirlwind, cross-country workshop tours for the seminar’s international teachers. This year, two of the three tours passed through central Florida and I seized the opportunity to study with Alison Cole and Jane Nicholas on consecutive weeks in November. Between them, these two Australian teachers know everything there is to know about goldwork (the shiny embroidery you seen on red carpets and in churches) and design. I had hardly touched a needle since finishing last years’ ornaments and welcomed the chance to get back in practice!
Looking down the road, I will be content if 2015 is no more eventful than 2014 has been.
I have higher hopes for my friends and family!