For those of you who read this blog yesterday, you might have left feeling down. That is not my intention. Most often I write about good times, but to be realistic, no life is always good. There are times of indecision, confusion, frustration, and the list goes on. If I didn’t write about the bad experiences MS gives a spousal care-giving the reader might think their bad times were unique.
What’s so challenging about MS is you never know what kind of day your going to get. Yesterday Ken woke feeling well, but as the morning went on, a crushing wave of fatigue washed over him and his day changed drastically. It happens.
Unless you see this transformation up close and personal, you might not believe it truly happens. You might think I use his bad days to punk out on things I really don’t want to do. Perhaps I use his bad days to take on the martyr mantel. Nope. Far from it. During the bad times, we pull together. He stays safe in his wheelchair, and I do everything I can to keep him comfortable.
So for all you caretakers out there in the universe, deal with the disappointments as best as you can. Surround yourself with other people who can raise you up. Eliminate negativity from your life in all the ways you can imagine. You need to do this step otherwise the bad will get worse. Be good to yourself. Take time for yourself.
Remember a union takes two. Equal parts make a whole. Find peace. Find happiness in small things.Tell caring friends and family the truth. They will help. I know it. And above all else, take one day at a time. The phrase is not a clique; it is a survival tactic.
APPLE PIE & STRUDEL GIRLS – Book 2
Paris, France – September 1939—The original plan of Marta’s Paris trip required her to return to Germany during the first week in September. The summer sped by entirely too fast. Emma and Marta found themselves in a comfortable routine, and with the approaching autumn months Paris grew even more beautiful. Colors of gold, orange, and red, cast the magical city with a whole new appearance. Returning to Germany proved to be unthinkable, especially for Emma.
As they drank their morning espresso, Emma said, “I need to tell you something, and you will probably be disappointed.”
Her tone commanded Marta’s undivided attention. “What is bothering you so deeply, Emma?”
“I made a decision not to return home. I am staying in Paris, my dear Marta. I secured a job at the city hall, and I plan to make Paris my new home.”
Instead of being distressed, a broad smile crossed Marta’s face. “That is very curious!” This afternoon I wrote to father and told him I am staying in Paris for the next year. I also secured a job. I will be a docent at the Louvre–a job I would do for free! I learned I can take art lessons at no cost because I am an employee now.”
Emma became elated on one hand, but fearful on the other. “Do you really think your father will allow you to stay? He might goose-step from Berlin to Paris and drag you back to Germany by your hair.” Part of Emma really believed Marta’s father would do such a thing, but imaging it made her laugh.
“Emma, our time in Paris showed me a world I can never leave.” Marta put her hand on Emma’s and searched her eyes. “Let us make a beautiful life together here in Paris. We fit here. People do not stare when we walk together hand in hand. People accept us for who we are. I do not need to hide my desires for you, and I can be true to myself.”
A week ago Emma and Marta grew closer than either of them ever dreamed they would. Their friendship deepened into romantic love for each other. Making a home in Paris together seemed a good choice. After all, if they went home and wanted to live together they might find themselves in prison.
Lacrosse, September, 1939—Rosalie thought she suffered a terrible bout of flu, but when the nausea, vomiting and overwhelming fatigue lasted more than a week, she made an appointment to see the doctor.
When the doctor announced his diagnosis, Rosalie fainted. She woke to smelling salts which a nurse waved under her nostrils.
The doctor stood above her on the examining table. “Mrs. Armani, Congratulations! You’re pregnant. The baby will be born around March 22 next spring.”
Rosalie left the doctor’s office in a daze. She wanted Angelo’s babies, but she hoped she wouldn’t get pregnant for at least a year. She just celebrated her eighteenth birthday at the end of August and becoming a wife proved to be harder than she expected.
As the youngest girl in the family, she never did laundry or ironing. At home her responsibilities included setting the table for dinner and keeping her bedroom neat. She never cooked. Her mother taught her how to dust and make her bed, but she never learned how to vacuum. Her older sisters absorbed all of the other household responsibilities. Rosalie still worked in her father’s restaurant during the day, so her true skills included how to hostess in a restaurant.
Angelo proved to be a patient husband and he never complained as Rosalie learned how to be a wife. He realized she tried her best to please him, even though he ate a lot of inedible meals.
Rosalie loved her life with Angelo. While he worked at the factory, she worked at her father’s restaurant. They made dinner together, and after their meal they curled up with each other to listen to the radio. Rosalie loved to end her day in his arms. Saturday they shared household chores and on Sunday they went to church and spent the afternoon at the county park enjoying an ice cream cone before returning home. Now all of their wonderful routine would end because of the doctor’s news. In six short months Rosalie would be forced to share her husband with another person.
Rosalie made herself a cup of tea to absorb the doctor’s news. She laid her hand on her abdomen. “Oh little one, how will I ever be able to be your Mama?” She felt so alone. Her best girlfriends wouldn’t understand her conflicted feelings because both of them seemed to be years away from motherhood.
Rosalie decided to keep the pregnancy a secret until her body would tell the story. But she had to tell Angelo right away. Perhaps she should make his favorite dinner, and over a bottle of wine, drop the bomb he would soon be a father. But no, she hated wine. Maybe she should tell him in the privacy of their bedroom right before they went to sleep. But no, he usually fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow; telling him then wouldn’t be fair. As she sipped her tea, she daydreamed dozens of scenarios to break the news, but none of them seemed right. She sighed and vowed to think about her dilemma tomorrow.
At four o’clock Angelo’s truck pulled into the driveway. He opened the back door and yelled. “Sweetheart, I’m home.”
Rosalie met him in the kitchen, stared at him. She burst into tears.
Angelo dropped his metal lunch pail on the counter and scooped her into his arms. “What’s wrong, baby?”
She sniffed a couple of times and brushed the tears away. She tried to speak, but words refused to come out. “It’s-it’s-
“What? Come on honey, just tell me. What’s wrong? You can tell me anything.” He held her close.
Rosalie took a deep breath and blurted, “I’m pregnant. Oh Angelo, I’m pregnant.” She sobbed.
The news hit him like someone slapped in the head with a two-by-four. A baby? Holy Cow! He lifted her tearful face and kissed her. “Really? We’re having a baby? When?”
“In March next year.”
“Oh, my sweet Rosie. You just made me the happiest guy on earth. Please don’t be upset. Having a baby so soon is a surprise, but a wonderful one!”
Rosalie smiled through her tears. “But Angelo, I’m not even a good wife yet, how in the world am I going to be a good mother?”
“Your mother is a good mother, so you will be one too.” He kissed her again. “Rosie, you are the most loving girl in the world. Love is all a baby needs. I’m so lucky to be blessed with a child with you.” He rubbed her back to comfort her. “The doctor’s sure?”
“Yes, sweetheart, he’s sure.”
Angelo loosened his embrace and stared at her middle. “How do you know for sure? I don’t see a lump in your belly.”
“Wait two or three more months. I’ll probably get as big as your pickup.”
He laughed with her. “I’m so darn happy; I want to shout the good news to the whole town.” He paused for a moment as he grinned at Rosalie. “Let’s go out and celebrate!”
“Why? I don’t want to celebrate just yet.”
“This is the best news. I’m going to be a papa! Of course, we’re going out to celebrate.”
“Where should we go?”
“Lombardo’s Restaurante, of course. Your father will feed us for free, and I can’t wait to see your Pa’s face when we tell him he’s going to be a Grandpapa!” Angelo kissed her again and went to the bathroom to wash and shave.
Angelo’s genuine happy reaction couldn’t be demolished even though Rosalie preferred to keep the baby a secret. She needed time to believe she really would be a mother in six months.