Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 21

Tuesday September 7, 2010

My parents-in-law decided to stay with us this week, a welcome comfort! The kids absolutely adore their grandparents. Nana loves being silly and indulging her Teddy and Nina. She'll spend hours playing tea parties, listening to their stories, letting them create inedible delights in the kitchen, and simply being with them.  I want to be able to do that someday!

Papa Gordy loves to laugh with our kids. He has an infectious laugh and smile. Papa Gordy is also the reigning family "tickler" right now. For years that title was exclusively Nana's but over the last year, Papa's "tickling" acclaim has risen. Whenever Teddy has a chance, he climbs onto Papa's lap and politely requests (more like demands with oozing sweetness that no one can resist) that Papa tickle his legs and arms. For those who don't know, "tickling" consists of lightly running your fingers in a repetitive pattern over skinny legs and arms....pretty much any exposed skin (face, feet, hands, tummy) is game. Whenever Teddy gets tickled the hair on his head literally "fuzzes" up. It's hysterical beyond belief!!! He has done this since birth. In fact, when he was a baby we used to tickle him so people could see his hair fuzz-up. It was our little circus trick and people loved it!! I hope that when he's 30 and I tickle his back his hair still fuzzes up. Wouldn't that be hilarious??? I'm sure he wouldn't think so but I would!

The kids also love to tell Papa stories, their thoughts on life, and general observations about what is going on around them. He always gets a kick out of what they say. When one of the kids just say something outright hilarious or unbelievably astute he just shakes his head and says with the biggest beaming smile, "I can't wait to see what these kids grow up to be!" Neither can we!

Aside from being a fabulous grandfather, Papa Gordy is also essential to our life because he is the only other person (aside from me) that our ridiculously anxious dog, Mel, trusts. To say that Mel loves Papa Gordy is not doing it justice. Mel is a gorgeous Portuguese Pointer but is the most skittish and outrageously anxious dog on the face of the planet. To put it mildly, Mel makes Marley from the movie Marley & Me look like a genius. It's gotten so bad that when Mel sees my red suitcase she starts stressing out so intensely that I'm leaving her behind that she's actually vomited!!! As if my life isn't complicated my pathetic dog has such attachment issues that she vomits when I leave overnight. What the heck??? Anyway, when Papa is in town Mel is in heaven. He takes her on at least 3 walks a day and is practically petting her continuously throughout the day. With Papa around, Mel's needy factor with me dissipates a tad, a welcome relief these days!

This morning, Papa went with me to radiation. I explain to people what happens at radiation but seeing it in person is a totally different experience. Papa got to see how brave Nina is, how wonderful all the staff at the Cancer Center are, how long it takes Nina to recover from sedation, and how much she enjoys her breakfast smorgasbord afterwards. Today she requested french toast so off I went to IHOP to fetch the queen's meal. She ate every last bite and smelled like maple syrup the rest of the day!!!

At radiation with our fabulous Cindy!!!

Once we returned home, Nina spent the remainder of the day in bed. She was just so tired, partially from a busy weekend and partially from all the side-effects of the medication and radiation. Her fatigue and weakness was very hard for my in-laws to witness. They were used to visiting us and seeing an adventurous, boisterous, and active little girl. For years we had joked that Nina was like a butterfly, flitting from flower to flower. Now, their precious granddaughter had metamorphed into a sluggish caterpillar. The metamorphous is normally the opposite, the one where everyone rejoices to see the fat, frumpy caterpillar transform into the gorgeous Monarch butterfly. Our gorgeous Monarch was still gorgeous but no longer a carefree butterfly flying all around us. This made my in-laws sad. It makes us sad every second of every hour of every day!

When Nina wasn't sleeping, she was very unresponsive, equally unsettling for my in-laws. To get Nina to respond was a monumentous challenge. When she did respond, it was primarily echolalic (repeating back what we had said). I found myself so desperate to hear her voice that I would say certain things ("Do you want some smoothie?") that I knew she'd repeat. I now understand why parents of children with autism often inadvertently reinforce their child's echolalia and repetitive vocalizations. When your child is healthy and they are chatting your ear off, it often becomes a nuisance. How tragic!! When your child is not healthy, anything, even something totally non-functional is so precious that your very breath is sustained by it. I shared this thought with Papa Gordy and he just hugged me. Sometimes there are no words and words are not needed....but hugs....there are always hugs and hugs are always welcome!!

Today Teddy was particularly pleased because Papa Gordy picked him up from school. This is always a proud moment for Teddy. After Teddy and Papa got home, I got several messages from Kellogg (Teddy's school) friends about how they'd known immediately that Gordy was Teddy's grandfather. You see, the Fredeen genes are very strong! Papa Gordy, Todd, and Teddy are carbon copies of each other. In fact, I have this great picture of all three of them at Teddy's first birthday party that I dearly refer to as "large, medium, and small". They look so alike that there is no disputing that they are grandfather, son, and questions about a milkman can ever be raised with my mother-in-law or me!!!

After dinner, Papa, Teddy and I went to the UCSB men's soccer game. Dr. B had kindly dropped off some tickets for us and we happily accepted the distraction. It felt wonderful to be out with Teddy. The night air was refreshing, almost cleansing. Teddy ate a chorro. We cheered. We hung out. The Gauchos lost. We were happy.

Mama, Teddy, & Papa Gordy
Sweet Boy!
Silly Boy!

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