Life Is What Happens When You Have Other Plans
For the past several days I’ve been talking with my wife Bonnie, friends, and other writers about a dilemma this writer is in.
For almost 20 years I’ve been chronicling my family life in the pages of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth. Two issues ago, I joked about readers being offended back in 1998, when I didn’t come clean right away about getting a puppy. So, last month, rather than withhold information, I wrote, in a timely manner, about our new Schnauzer Windsor.
But what if the news is not as good as getting a puppy? And, small town that Rehoboth is, word gets out when there is trouble. As a writer, what do I do? There really are only two choices. Ignore what’s actually going on and write fake sunny, funny columns, or tell the truth.
For me, everything I’ve put in print over the years, no matter how embarrassing, silly, angry, or political has been the whole truth and nothing but. Sure, I embellish with a funny word here and there, but everything’s been honest, though viewed through my skewed sense of humor.
So for me, there is only one choice – the truth, and thankfully, Bonnie agrees with me.
Unfortunately, a month ago, my wife was diagnosed with cancer. It’s amazing the changes that can occur to one’s system in just two years. She’d had a clean bill of health in her 2012 colonoscopy. That is no longer the case. So the first message is, if you’ve been dragging your feet, or your ass as the case may be, get the test. Now.
Secondly, Bonnie and I are hoping to be able to make lemonade from this lemon. We will be setting up our lemonade stand outside the RV in a campground near Annapolis, MD. Bonnie is being treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center, where a dear friend of ours is a VP at the hospital and in charge of her care. It makes sense.
So, throughout this summer, as Bonnie undergoes radiation, chemotherapy, and probably surgery, we will stay true to the title of this column. We will be CAMPing OUT in the RV five days a week and hopefully getting home to Rehoboth on weekends.
But the lemonade is good. The campsite has a pool, a dog run, and even some dog agility equipment to entertain Windsor. We’ll have a grill and plenty of adult beverages and will be able to entertain there. It’s fifteen minutes from Annapolis for crabs and beer and lots of other diversions, including good friends.
Ah, friends. The words of comfort and offers of assistance have been many and incredibly touching. We hear you and thank you. They say actions speak louder than words, but the words have been mighty loud and lovely. One action, however, is worth a shout out.
A quartet of friends offered to help us get the RV ready for the Annapolis adventure. Not in use since our snowy, muddy Thanksgiving trip last fall, frankly the rig was a mess. We were told to show up on a Saturday morning, where the camper was to be moved to a friend’s driveway and where Bonnie and I, with some helpers, would spend the entire day on our hands and knees scrubbing and washing in a day of abject Cinderella drudgery.
We arrived at the appointed driveway to discover that the rig, gleaming in the sun, had already been washed, dried, vacuumed, spit-shined, and otherwise completely made over into a sparkling clean home-away-from-home. Inside our version of the pumpkin-turned carriage there were new pillows, new runner rugs, flowers, wine (Happy Camper brand, no less!) with new wine goblets, and Rehoboth souvenir artwork to keep the beach with us at all times.
As we say in Yiddish, we were verklempt. Overcome with emotion, all we could do was hug our friends, wipe our tears, and ask if it was too early to get into the Happy Camper wine. It was not.
I will say that Bonnie and I intend to keep our senses of humor through this upcoming ordeal. Last week we stayed in the home of an Annapolis friend, since we don’t move the RV to the campground until this coming Monday, Memorial Day.
On Thursday, Bonnie was the subject of not just one, but two separate biopsy procedures. They sedated her for the first one, did the procedure, woke her up, drove the nodding woman by wheelchair upstairs for the second go-around, knocked her out again and went to work.
By the time I could take her home, Bonnie was one woozy broad. She was flaked out on the sofa when my phone sent me an urgent alert about a tornado in the area. Excuse me? Exactly who is alerting me and how do they know I’m in Annapolis? Who needs the NSA listening to our calls when the weather service is watching? Next thing I knew, that annoying beeping noise and a warning banner came across the TV. Yes, a funnel cloud was spotted in our area. Grand.
I guided my semi-conscious wife to a teeny, tiny, windowless downstairs bathroom, closed the lid on the toilet, and sat the patient down. She leaned on the wall and went right back to sleep. Then I ran upstairs for the Yorkie, Poodle, and my mini-Schnauzer. I’m here to tell you that herding dogs is not any easier than herding cats. I finally finished the dog wrangling rodeo and we were all locked in the panic room together, staring at each other, wondering if we’d be going to Oz. That’s when my phone issued the ALL CLEAR. All we could do was laugh. That would be me and the three dogs. Bonnie slept through the whole thing.
We finally went upstairs. The dogs let sleeping Bonnie lie. And the next day we returned to the beach in Memorial Day weekend traffic. To my knowledge, in the 19 years we’d been visiting or living at the beach, we were never stupid enough to time things this poorly. And, as I sit here typing, I am safe in the knowledge that we have to do it all over again on Monday morning, driving the RV, towing the Jeep, and creeping back to Annapolis.
Oh, if only we could say, “Beam Me Up, Scotty.” I’ll let you know when we get there. And stay tuned for news from the lemonade stand.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir; Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach, For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries, and her newest book Time Fries—Aging Gracelessly in Rehoboth Beach.