Jim's sister, Cathy was up from Virginia with her friend, Christine. We got together with them at our house. Jim and Cathy's brother Doug and his wife, Bridget joined us. It has been at least a couple years since we all were gathered and while it was great to catch up, this visit was bittersweet.
The first clue was the blue bandage Doug was sporting. As Doug always has his hand in something, whether it be at home or on the job, fixing or tinkering, it's not unusual to hear of some "event" that has occurred. We've been with him through his botched rotator cuff surgery. Through his first marriage, the births of his children, his stint in the US Army and then his marriage to Bridget and other life changing but normal events. Then there are the others like this one -- not so normal.
He had been working on his stepson's car late one night and suddenly his hand was pulled into the cooling fan on the radiator and caught in the serpentine belt almost completely severing his thumb from his hand. Julian tried to help release him while Bridget called 911. The ambulance took him to Albany Med (an hour away) and they were able to re-attach his thumb. That happened in August.
As we sat in our backyard on an unusually warm October day, we continued sharing family updates when Cathy, dropped her bombshell.
Last March, she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This was a disease we were all too familiar with...
Margaret (Mom) Bell had struggled with MS most of her adult life. And while it is not an inherited disease it does have hereditary traits. It's one of those diseases that can lie dormant in one's body, unless something triggers it to "blossom". Fortunately for Cathy, hers developed later in life than her mother and at a time when there are drugs to fight it.
The first clue to Cathy that something was wrong, was a rectangular box that showed up in her vision in one eye. In that box everything appeared blurry or more opaque than the rest of her vision. A skilled eye doctor had his suspicions and sent Cathy for further testing. She was put on strong steroids for several weeks. This helped with restoring her vision. She then went for a CAT scan and lesions were found on on her brain indicating and confirming MS. So now she is on one of two drugs to keep the MS from developing further. Thankfully a spinal tap reveled no MS on her spine.
While we are all shocked at Cathy's announcement. We are grateful for the times we live in that such a disease can be controlled and if not reversed, or arrested from further development or, at the very least, slow down its progress.
We decided to end the day on an uplifting note by taking everyone to the Walkway over the Hudson and dinner at Hideaway on the Hudson.
The Bells are all motorheads (did you catch those clues in the photos above?)!:
I felt sorry for Jim who was driving my blue Ford Focus while his brother and sister drove large, loud, intimidating vehicles. After all Jim used to drag-race in his earlier years, but he kept my little Focus just a tad over the speed limit while the other two took turns passing each other on the way down. We did maintain a firm lead though!
While our "fun" didn't erase the "cloud" hanging over our heads, it did clear the air for some great share-time.
We had fun swapping childhood memories, catching up on each others lives and initiating Christine into the many "Bell Thing" habits this family does.
On the way home Jim stated his mixed emotions of being happy and sad at the same time. Later he wondered how to have more time with his brother and sister.
Sometimes those bumps in life are wake up calls to what's really important around us.
The Bells are learning how important family relationships are and how short time is on this earth.
A lesson the Mullers have learned well through the years...as a matter of fact, this blog is titled part one because just two weeks from now the Mullers will be hold their bi-annual family reunion. A tradition we have had since our mom's death in 1999.
We have learned no matter how busy our lives get it is vitally important to maintain Important relationships, especially between family. To maintain such relationships one has to make the effort to reach out and contact the others and it shouldn't be one-sided. All parties should be open to reaching out, calling, hosting, visiting and welcoming those that are important to them.
|Looking down on Route 9.|
|Mid-Hudson Bridge from the back deck of Hideaways.|
Some learn the lesson too late, when those they love have passed away, or when the kids are grown and gone, or when sickness makes the times together inconvenient, if not impossible. Who haven't you heard from lately...Give 'em a call TODAY!
(Click on any photo to enlarge.)