I had been planning this trip home to Michigan for the last year. Finally I was going to be able to attend our multi-class reunion we call Burtpalooza. This is the third year that they have put it on and I was so looking forward to it. I had planned to make some dishes for the potluck that went along with the bbq'd pork they were having for the main course. I was looking forward to spending time with friends, old and new, that I have not seen in years. Unfortunately, things don't turn out the way you plan them in your head. This vacation has turned out to be a doozy for me.
Two days here, I had to rush one of my friends to the hospital. She was staying with me and my family and had planned on helping me make all of this food. Unfortunately, her long term illnesses caught up with her once again and she was waylaid. Between running back and forth to Saginaw for her and trying to get ready for the reunion, I was worn out. I wanted to crawl into bed and not wake up for a day or two, but that was not in the cards. I was going to that reunion come hell or high water, and Mother Nature was about to give us plenty of that too!
The morning of the reunion party, I got up and put together all the salads and the layered dip, packed up the cooler with our beverages and loaded it all up in my jeep along with a few fold up chairs. The sky was sunny in the early morning, but then the clouds rolled in. By noon it was down right overcast and the darker storm clouds were creeping in. My friend fought with her doctors to get released from the hospital early, but they would not let her out to after at least 4pm. Lucky for me, my Mom volunteered to go spring her out when it was time so that I could set up and enjoy some time with my friends without having to worry about anything else. Nothing else except the storm that is!
Around 2pm, the wind suddenly picked up and whipped through the party area. The wind and rain were pelting from all directions almost like trying to form a tornado. We grabbed what we could and raced for the garage where we had set up the food. A small group of us were soaked to our skins and stood wide eyed watching the two tents we set up go flying around the yard! The umbrella took off and I think ended up in the next county. It just flew up and over the house and then it was gone. Then one of the porta-potties tipped over. Luckily, no one was in there or had even used it yet and it was still in working condition after the rain stopped and we were able to put it upright once again.. Just as suddenly as it came through, the storm left and the clouds began to clear. More people arrived and the party got rolling right along.
Almost all of my Soul Sisters were able to make it and I was so happy to see them again. Another friend surprised us all by coming after saying he wasn't going to make it this year. Good food, great friends and finally nice weather made that day extra special for me. I handed out pictures of the cover of my very first novel out next month and they had me sign them. My friends made me feel like a mini celebrity. Nothing like an ego boost from people who love you! By the end of the night, promises were made to keep in touch and we parted ways once again. My heart was full and my dreams were filled with plans to see them all again soon. Unfortunately, the nice relaxing vacation that I had envisioned in those dreams was going to be a distant memory.
Two days after that wonderful reunion party, I received a phone call from my step-mom. My dad, Dale Dennings, was taken to Sparrow Hospital in East Lansing. They found a huge brain aneurysm and he was going to be transported to Grand Rapids for surgery. My stomach dropped when I heard the news. We had plans to meet up in Birch Run the following morning and the three of us were going to drive up to see my Grandma in Grayling. This was not happening! First my friend, and now my Dad. Damn it to Hell!
Since it would be several hours before they were to transfer him, I made sure that I was able to visit the one Soul Sister who could not be with us at the reunion. She had been very ill with CRPS lately and just exhausted and in a lot of pain. There was no way I was going to miss seeing her and give her the gift I had made for her. The six of us now have charm necklaces that bind us together as sisters. I also wrote a poem called Prayer for Strength and Courage. I showed her how to use the poem with the white candles and a little lavender oil. It will be her prayer spell to help give her the strength and courage she needed to get through and she would draw on the energy from the rest of us by holding on to her charms. When I wrote the poem, I only had Tara in mind, but turns out all of us were in need of this prayer spell and my family in particular.
My dad has been a heavy smoker and drinker for a great deal of his life. It is the smoking and the high blood pressure that lead to the formation of the largest aneurysm that the surgeon has ever seen. It covered up both of his optic nerves. It's a wonder he didn't have symptoms before now. They are optimistic that they have the bleeding under control, but now he is going through alcohol withdrawals. Top that all off with his COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and you have a patient that cannot be taken off the ventilator yet. The doctors are tweaking his sedatives to hopefully find the "happy place" so that he can be comfortable as his head and lungs try to heal. We won't know if there is any long standing brain damage until he is extubated and can talk. He is going to be in the hospital for at least another 10 days and I have to go back to California well before then.
Making the trip up to Grayling to tell my Grandma that her son was stable but far from out of the woods yet, was very difficult for me. I didn't know if she would understand what he was facing or if she understood that there was a chance that he may not make it through. Her short term memory is not all that great so there was a lot of our conversation that we had to repeat, but I didn't mind. It was great to see her again, even under these circumstances. Unfortunately, she thinks Dad will be cured of his alcoholism once he wakes up and won't want to smoke or drink again. Sorry, Gran. That is just not how it all works.
Did you think that was the end of the vacation nightmare? Nope. My brother totalled his truck avoiding several white tailed deer. He is all battered and bruised and having trouble getting around. WTF!!!!???
Last night I got together with a few more friends at the Backwoods in Burt. We had a few drinks and a hell of a lot of laughs. Leave it to my friends to help me get the happy back into my vacation. Today, more friends and family will join me here at my Mom's house for a bbq and swimming. I need this day to relax a bit, for tomorrow I have one last visit with Dad at the hospital before I head back home late Monday night(September 29th). Good thing I have one more day home in California to regroup before I go back to work at the veterinary hospital. My mind just can't take much more of the drama around here! LOL