Family Ties: Unraveled


On December 21, I headed for my hometown for ten days of family and friend filled festivities. The flight was on time, and my babe slept for about half of the trip. The next 48 hours we cruised. Presents were wrapped, parties were attended, and the weather was outstanding.

Two days later, we were sharing laughs and eating appetizers when my mother–in–law turned to me and said, "I have to excuse myself. I'm going to be sick." She had the stomach flu. My husband, baby and I had all endured this illness a week earlier. As soon as she said that, I knew she was in for it, too. To see more about my disastrous holiday, read more.

Following her stomach bug, my sister, mother, both nieces, step–father, uncles, aunts, cousins, dad and friends all came down with it, too. Though it is short lived, it takes a couple of days to really bounce back. Selfishly, I felt relieved that I had already been sick and was probably not going to get it again.

The joke was on me because I forgot to mention that the few family members who dodged the tummy bug were not able to steer clear of the miserable cold from you know where. (No cursing! Remember new year's resolution number one!) My father–in–law got a runny nose on Christmas Day, which he dismissed as a case of the sniffles. Only it quickly turned into a three day fever with a bronchial infection to boot. After two days, my husband and I also fell ill.

After trekking 1,600 miles across the country to spend the holidays in merriment, we were laid up in bed shivering and coughing until our eyes bled tears on the pillows. Finally starting to feel some relief from my fever, I woke up to my baby girl wailing.

The morning of December 31 was spent in an emergency care room where I waited behind five people for my daughter to see a doctor who gave her a prescription. My babe was sad, miserable and we were scheduled to fly home the next day.

I took her home to rest and went to see my grandmother down the street. As I stood in her front yard, a fire truck and ambulance came rolling down the street with sirens blaring and red lights flashing headed straight to her house. I ran like lightening through her door and found her sitting with my mom and aunt. My grandma managed a meager "Hello." She had fallen and gashed a large cut in the back of her head. As the paramedics lifted her into the ambulance on the stretcher, I told her that I hadn't wanted to wish her a farewell from an ambulance. She just asked if the house was locked and gave me a kiss.

All at once, the pent up emotions came flooding down through my eyes. I walked past the concerned neighbors and inside the house where I cried like a homesick camper. My holiday had been a joke. One sick person right after another. And to top it all off, I had to watch my last living grandparent, the one who has always meant the most to me, ride away on a stretcher. My family ties were unraveling.

But that night, as I packed our bags and stuffed toys into pockets I didn't even know existed, I began to talk some sense into myself. Yes, I had been sick for much of the holiday. No, I hadn't seen much of my own family but, I did get to spend time with my in–laws, who I love. And, while it seemed like the majority of my family members were sick, all of them would be better in days. We were lucky to have spent any time with our loved ones and blessed to have our health (though it might have been failing momentarily). So I shook it off and kept my chin up in an effort to welcome 2008 with a smile and grace.

And so far, so good. My grandmother is back at home recovering and my mother is here watching after my babe while I sit at work. But for every up there is a down. My mother–in–law called. She, too is getting the double whammy — she's got the sniffles. She must have waited to get sick again after she played nurse to all of us.

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