It has been a good day.
Two hours after the last child left, my father and stepmother showed up for lunch and a quick visit. This is more involved for them than you can imagine. First of all, they live four hours away -- but they happened to be only two hours away this weekend and thought they'd just pop up for a bit. Second, my father's cancer is steadily advancing and he's clearly getting sicker, so it's nice that they were able to visit while he still can.
But, came they did, and we had a wonderful visit. We chatted a bit at the house and then went out to lunch at one of those lame chain places that I detest, but it was a place that has food my father can eat.
Here's how restricted his diet is: He told the waitress very clearly that he wanted a plain baked potato with nothing on it. When it came out with a little sprinkle of parsley on it, he had to send it back and explain that he has stomach cancer and that even parsley makes him ill. Really it does.
When people think of what life would be like if they were dying, they usually imagine they can eat what they want. That's patently false. When one has terminal cancer and it's in one's colon, liver, stomach, pancreas, and lymph nodes, alas, one's stomach tends to be a mess and even the plainest foods can cause, ahem, extreme gastro-intestinal distress.
(Explosive, firehose diarrhea many times every day.)
(You just cannot imagine how horrible it is.)
(Don't imagine it. Think happy thoughts instead.)
We walked to Ben & Jerry's afterward. I don't know who was more thrilled -- my girls for getting such a treat after they'd already had the treat of eating out or my parents at their obvious delight in being with their only granddaughters.
Then we went to Barnes & Noble to blow some money on books. My parents gave the girls $25 gift cards, which they immediately spent and then some. While the girls were browsing, my father and I looked at other books and I helped him pick out a stack for the girls' Christmas gifts.
We came home and then my parents hit the road for the four hour drive back. Daddy's lunch wasn't sitting well, so he was in quite a bit of discomfort. I know the drive home was going to be tough. In fact, I believe he was stretched out across the backseat with a pillow and a blanket.
(Yes, I still call him Daddy, as does my sister. We ARE from the south, after all.)
(What?! You don't have cute nicknames for some of your relatives?)
After my parents left, we all settled into a quiet afternoon. I took a nap. The girls read and then played with the dollhouse.
It's nearly dinner time and we're all happy and relaxed, which is great way to end a weekend and start the week.
I've talked quite a bit about the cancer thing in this entry -- not something I usually mention -- and so you're probably wondering why I'm saying this was a good day.
When a family member dies, there's often no warning and the family grieves after the fact. For us, however, we've had a year now to prepare. That's not to say that we won't grieve when my father does pass, because we will.
But we're trying -- and mostly succeeding -- to enjoy the here and now as a family. Yes, it was hard for my parents to drive four hours out of their way, but they wanted to and I'm glad they did. It gave my girls a chance to see their grandparents and be with them. It gave my parents a chance to see the girls and love on them. It gave Pete and me a chance to talk quietly with my parents about this past Friday's oncology appointment and what options remain (very few).
We had TODAY and that's good for me for now.