Sunday, January 30, 2011


Today we reached milestone #1. That awful first week in the hospital, the first time that Mom became disoriented, she started worrying that she wouldn't make it to celebrate with her "birthday sister" ( a dear friend who also celebrated her birthday today-Happy happy birthday RRG!!). My dad strongly told her that she wouldn't miss it, and Mom snapped back to reality and focus, but it shook us. It terrified my dad. But she made it to today. She's beginning her 57th year on earth and we're very glad to have her.

Gary's and my wedding is milestone #2. It's very difficult for me to broach the subject of our wedding because I know it's something that she's shooting for and working hard to be at. But neither Gary nor I want the wedding we were (ok, she was) planning. But I don't want to take away a milestone for her. Especially after seeing her today.

This morning Mom had physical therapy; it was a session like no other. Usually she does some leg exercises while sitting at the edge of the bed, then walks with her walker for a bit, then sits upright for an hour. Today she did the leg exercises, then walked down the hall into the "gym" and got on the recumbent bike for 13 minutes. 13 minutes! I have some clients who are healthy who would struggle with that! But she did it. Once she got back to her room, she napped until it was time to get ready for her birthday dinner. We had about 50(!) of her closest friends and family come over for pizza, salad and cake; we knew she was going to be sitting upright for at least an hour and it would be chaotic, so we wanted to make sure she got rest while she could. She slept most of the afternoon and woke up an hour before the "party" to wash up, get dressed and get ready to go.

Everyone kept saying how good see looked, how rosy her cheeks were and how happy she seemed. And it's true; she was decked out in a brand new Lululemon outfit and a gorgeous cashmere hat (all gifts-what amazing friends she has!) and she was thrilled to have so many people there. After we sang Happy Birthday, she gave a little speech, thanking everyone for being there. She said, "the best part of this whole thing is getting to spend so much time with all of you. All of my life I've been go go go, and now I really have the time to spend with the people I love. This has been a very special time in my life." It gave me pause. I also am go go go. I moved to New York because the Seattle pace was too slow for me. I thrive on being busy, on racing from one appointment to the next, on working six days in a row and waking up early to get a run in before the work. Mom has been robbed of her eyesight and strength and she appreciates it. She recognizes that all of our time together is precious and has truly enjoyed the knowledge that this situation has knitted our family closer together. Saying that this is a special time...who would ever think such a thing? This is one of the most frightening diagnoses to get, this is the most helpless she's been in her life since infancy, this is a time of such uncertainty and helplessness...and yet. She says it's special. And it is. I watched other families sitting in the waiting room at the hospital fall apart. I watched a son and mother engage in a screaming match. I watched siblings sit in stony silence. And I watched our family (and I include our friends in this group) knit, fold cranes, cry together, hug each other, feed each other and just rally. I mean, we planned a little birthday dinner and had 50 people come. There was no way to cut it down-every single one of those guests have been instrumental to getting Mom to this day. To milestone #1.

Before getting dressed for the party, Mom and I did some bed yoga and massage. She told me that she always trusts that I'm going to help her get in exactly the right position and apply exactly the right amount of pressure. Then she started to cry. "I want you to know how very proud I am of you. No matter what happens, please know that. And that I love you. I love you more than love." I didn't cry then. I just thanked her. I told her that it was her birthday and she shouldn't be giving me the gifts. Because what could be a better gift than going through life knowing you're loved more than love?


  1. Flynne- I hope you had a wonderful birthday! I've been thinking about you all the time, sending you all the positivity I have all the way from Portland! Lauren and I really wish we were in Seattle to send you birthday wishes in person but unfortunately we're stuck suffering with our school work. : ) I hope to come back and visit you and Ross and the whole family soon! Keep up the good work! -Amy

    Aynsley- Thank you for this blog and for your openness and your time, it's appreciated!

  2. Flynne,
    Your birthday sounds wonderful, surrounded, just as you should, by family and friends and love. Congratulations on an incredible physical therapy session--you rock, girl! The birthday speech you gave--oh, you bring tears and potent emotion to me--I'm so fortunate to know you, to be your friend, to be a part of your circle of family and friends. Thank you to what you give to me.

    Yesterday, 3 of my friends and I celebrated your birthday at my house, 2 dogs, all of us opinionated and loving women, toasting you, and making a string of cranes which I'll send to your house.

    Here's to the first day of your 57th year and all of the challenges, gifts, and blessings it holds.
    Love, Kimbo

  3. Flynne, To wake up this morning and read what a beautiful day you had on your "57th Birthday" is a gift you have given to all of us. The bonding and love you have with your family is beautiful. Your children, husband and friends are pouring out all their love to you! That is what life is mostly about. Anseley and Ross have really made us feel like we are in the room with you daily. Their daily blogs are amazing. I feel so blessed to have spent so much time with you during our high school days. The Peoria group of friends will continue to send their love and prayers to you daily. Keep strong and you will continuously be blessed daily. Lots of Love, Kathy (Rump)

  4. Flynne, I'm so glad you had a great birthday with your family and friends. What a blessing it is to have so much love. Your children are doing a terrific thing keeping this blog to let us all know of your progress. Happy Birthday to you! Love, Carla (Copeland) Clemmer
    p.s. I was thinking of you and feeling a tad guilty at dinner last night as I ate sweet potato fries, hopefully you get some where you are!! :)

  5. Flynne - We are so happy that your birthday celebration was so wonderful and you had so many people with you. Vicki remembers celebrating your birthday with you here in Las Vegas a few years ago with your mom. You are in our thoughts constantly and we wish we could be there to give yo ua huge hug. The Herman Family here in Las Vegas is your family and we love you. Bruce and Vicki