We’ve all heard the expression “When it rains, it pours.” January was a monsoon for me.
It actually started mid-December with the news of my mother-in-law’s stage IV stomach cancer diagnosis. With a six-month timeline, Elke* has opted to receive hospice care. All her life she’s dealt with cancer. It started in her late 20s, returned in her 40s, again in her late 60s, and with this last bit of news, she said she’s done. Prognosis was not good to begin with, and she just didn’t want to go through the “cure” again. Her husband, John*, has been displaying signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease. He had to be reminded who we were, and yet, most cruel, he’s aware of it right now. They live in Texas, three and a half states over, and timing was not good. But it had to be done.
The journey back to Texas was odd. Any road trip I’ve taken before has always been a good thing. My husband and I made the most of it, since it was three days hard travel. My sister, who lives in Bakersfield, was gracious enough to let us use her place as flop house. We literally spent less than 15 minutes talking to her before we headed for bed, and then in the morning, we hugged one and another and moved on, both going and coming back. The second day out, I wrote some errant thoughts. Those long drives gives a person way too much time to think.
January 4, 2017, Wednesday
When the sun is rising, the errant contrail casts a shadow on the higher clouds
Driving east along Interstate 10 to Texas
Don’t know how to feel
Sedimentary, layered mountains Las Cruces
Texas landscape out of El Paso flat
Can use cruise control – indefinitely
Occasional butte, rolling hills
Road stretches out in front of you in gentle, undulating waves
Cerulean sky, painted with high altitude stratus clouds
Harmless, no rain
When sun is setting, the color of the western sky shifts from blue to lavender, then gradually to a dusky plum, all but obscuring the horizon, then gradually, deep purple to the black of night.
On the third morning of our visit, I was drying my hair, when my blow-dryer of at least 10 years decides to go out with a bang. Sparks flew and I had to unplug it to stop the sparks from turning into flames. The acrid smell of burnt electronics filled our hotel room for at least a day. I felt it was appropriate, somehow, that it should happen at that time; however, I had spent the night before crying, so it was possible I was just upset. Saying good bye to something else, even something as replaceable as a minor appliance, really set me off.
When driving back, we ran into the storms in Northern California that we’d been monitoring even before we left. It was an eye-opener to see the areas around Sacramento, flooded by water that had overrun the bank of the Cosumnes River. Sacramento has the American and the Sacramento Rivers to deal with and the levies around the city are monitored more closely. What I photographed was the Cosumnes River gone a bit wild, just south of Elk Grove, a suburb of SacTown. And then from Highway 99 North to I80 East, up around Applegate, the trucks were pulled over because the road over Donner Pass was closed due to snow.
I was so grateful to be home…because our garage was flooding. We got some more sandbags (don’t ask) and cleaned up what we could. Thanks goodness the foundation is concrete, and no real damage was done.
On a lesser, but more immediate note, my husband’s car has stopped running. The money we would have used to fix that was spent visiting his mother. It sits in the front of the house, ads running on Facebook, Letgo and Craigslist with no results. I guess no one wants a mechanic’s project at this time.
There is more to the story, but I will leave it. Sometimes it’s good not to tell so much, and this is one of those instances.
*names changed for privacy