Traveling from Oklahoma City, OK, to Mountain Home, Arkansas, isn’t complicated. There is my bright college graduate, married daughter up in Missouri asking herself, “And Arkansas is….?” Okay, the turnpike conspiringly took a different direction using a long bridge to jump over Arkansas, maybe, but there was Haley with her daughter, Haven, in Branson, MO. The next day tornadoes hit Missouri where Haley had traveled….dancing tornadoes.
The first part of March, Haven's, (Andrew and Haley’s youngest child), eye glued shut due to a cold. It was nasty. A couple of days later, Haley’s eye glued shut; plus Haley was quite sick with a cold. Gibson managed to qualify for sick bay as well.
His daddy wasn’t affected. Andrew drinks enough Dr. Pepper that I think all his organs will be preserved long after Andrew's soul leaves this earth.
Oma, that’s I, drives to Oklahoma City on the week-end of the 4th & 5th to stay with the children while Haley and Andrew did some odds and ends. Haley is pregnant with child #3. Since she’s planning to see me in a few days, Robin and I take Gibson, her oldest at 3 years old, with us to Arkansas on March 6th.
Ah, but of course, Oma begins to cough, to sneeze, to have a tickled throat and a chest that is wheezing. The cough worsens until I’m hacking with these bizarre sounds. Gibson says to me as I’m gasping and hacking and blowing my nose, “Oma, it's okay.” His sweet concern did make me feel better in theory, not in reality. I was sick!
Robin, my middle child, begins to have problems with her right eye becoming sensitive to the light, but it wasn’t similar to Haley's or Haven's eye. In a couple of days we called the doctor, as Robin's eye was weeping as well. She had contacted a viral infection in her eye, but we had caught it soon enough before complications.
Phew, what’s next?
When I returned to Arkansas on the 6th of March, I was excited to see my youngest baby, (20 & ½ years old). Annaliese was on Spring break! Healthy, vibrant she had Gibson swinging on swings in parks and sliding on the slides. They both whipped up furious energy especially together. And I kept up with them in a wheezy sort of way. Saturday, Annaliese left for college. In a few days in the wee morning hours, Annaliese would find herself at the ER sicker than a dog. A good dose of antibiotics saved her hindy.
Fortunately, Haley and Haven made it down to Arkansas (after their brief tour of Branson, MO), to see Annaliese before she left. In between my coughs and wheezing I told everyone how it meant to me to have my whole family under one roof. The first two nights Haven was suffering from fever and these strange little bumps…oh, oh, yea, good, old chicken pox. Neither Haven nor her mother slept very well those first couple of days. This was supposed to be Haley’s down time, a little vacation, before having her third child in August… (a little boy by the way).
I think God is preparing her.
In a few days, Haley, Gibson and Haven leave for their home in Oklahoma City; Ruedi leaves to drive a charter bus to Colorado for 6 days. Our cat, Little Bit is missing and had been for two days. The weather had turned cold and ugly, so on Sunday, the 19th, Robin sets out to look for her. Robin finds her down the ravine beside our steep driveway. We had the vet meet us on a Sunday at the animal hospital. It was obvious her injuries were fairly serious, but her core temperature had dropped perilously low.
Our Little Bit didn’t make it that night.
I sit here writing about these last few weeks. And a thought came to me. People were injured in the tornadoes that hit Missouri; my daughter missed the tornadoes by a day. What‘s a little detour?
Oma could have been coughing and wheezing all by her little self, but she had family surrounding her. Annaliese's return trip to college was accident free. Haven’s chicken pox was mild. When she felt better, she slid down the big slide and touched a cold, cold lake and hugged her big brother, Gibson. Gibson threw rocks; he’s happy. He also saw “Toy Story” eight times. When could he do that at home?
Robin’s eye responded well to treatment and quickly too. Our Little Bit knew before she died that we had found her, and I think she fought death until we did. Today is March 24, 2006; I’m coughing and wheezing. I can hear Gibson say, “It’s okay. It's okay, Oma!”