Saturday, March 8, 2014

Opera to polka

I am sitting here listening to Olivia singing to Dan, the pair of them making up songs. What Dan lacks in musical ability, he makes up for with enthusiasm and humor. Today, I am living in the midst of a comedic opera or Broadway musical, written by two children.  Dan may be 46 1/2 (as the current song lyrics proclaim) but he certainly has a young heart.  They both just make me laugh.

We are singing in our house this morning, because the pathology on Brent's lymph nodes came back clean yesterday.   He will do a year of chemo, but we do not have to figure out a solution for the radiation recommendation that further node involvement would have brought.  So, we celebrate, joyfully.

It has been a long, and rough couple of weeks. 

Last weekend, the day after Brent was discharged, we helped celebrate the life of Dan's grandfather, who had died. I was anxious when we last visited him in hospice. I worried about how the kids would deal with this loss.  The added layer of uncertainty with Brent's most recent diagnosis made this even more complicated.  In my own mind, at least.

The short of it is this:  Alex and Lauren got up to read at the service.  Brent, despite having a four hour surgery on Friday, participated with Olivia and his cousin Evan, bringing up the gifts in church.  There was sunshine the day we buried him, even if it was bitterly cold.  I have thought a lot about 'Pa.' naturally.

One of the many things that really spoke to me about his life was this:  When he was born in 1923, he weighed only two pounds and 11 ounces.  They put him in a shoebox and told his mother to take him home and enjoy him as long as she could, which was not supposed to be long.  They kept hot water bottles with him, and he went on to live... to marry, to see his children and grandchildren marry.  He even saw some of his great-grandchildren enter high school. 

I would love to see the Vegas odds on a baby, born at less than 3 pounds, living to the age of 90, even with today's technology. I wish I could have placed a small wager on 'Pa.' 

And while Pa's mother certainly must have worried in the cold of that November, and surely she had moments of despair, she eventually saw him grow up, marry, laugh, and famously play the accordion.  This is a favorite polka, from a man who took enormous delight in the company of others:

In Heaven there is no beer
That's why we drink it here (Right Here!)
When we're gone from here,
all our friends will be drinking all our beer!

I smile, remembering my children's proud Croatian great-grandfather.  I think about his mother, who I never knew, and appreciate that without her struggle, I would be absent my most treasured blessings in the form of my husband and children. We never know how far the ripples of our actions travel. 

I am very grateful for the struggles of a woman that I never met.

And tonight, I will toast her son's memory with a polka and a beer.


1 comment:

  1. Have one of each for me, too. Thank you, Ann, that was beautiful and I'm sure Dad would have been quite honored by your words. Dad's mom, my grandmother was a very gentle, loving woman. I was fortunate to have her for 29 years.