Thanksgiving Friday Dinner is becoming a new tradition in our family. This year we welcomed eleven people and four dogs to our home for a wonderful meal and great memories. Dinner began with Wendy’s Dad offering the prayer, giving thanks for the presence and support and love of the family throughout Mom’s illness and death. It’s been a hard year for all of us, but it’s also been a year of growing together and realizing how much love we share.
Mom died on August 23rd after six months of hospitalization and nursing care.
On the drive home to Texas from Wendy’s installation as Regional Presbyter in Princeton the end of January, Mom realized something was seriously wrong. A stop at the ER in North Carolina, then a visit with her own doctors immediately upon arrival at home, led her to be admitted to St. David’s hospital on February 15th for the treatment of a serious abdominal infection. I don’t know if it was the stress of the long winter drive to New Jersey, the relief of knowing Mom was cared for, or just the ticking of time for Dad … when he returned home that evening from bringing Mom to St. David’s, Dad noticed he was experiencing chest pains. The next morning Dad was having an emergency heart catheterization, Mom was in a room down the hall praying for Dad as she was being treated with antibiotics, and Michael and Wendy were on the plane for the first of many trips to Austin this year.
Dad was recovering well after a few stents were put in when his heart stopped. Fortunately, he was being monitored and the doctor was on hand to take him immediately back into surgery; he had a pacemaker installed. He went home the following afternoon. Mom, on the other hand, was just beginning her long battle. Her most difficult surgery was a week later. The doctors worked together to do some abdominal reconstruction and to clean and treat the ongoing infection. As her body healed from the surgery per se, physical therapy was difficult. After a few months, the stress became too much and her body began shutting down. She entered hospice care the week of her 70th birthday, July 2, and died about a month and a half later.
Wendy made five trips to Texas over that time. One of her trips was a surprise for Kate … On May 28, Ben asked Kate to marry him! Wendy, Dad, Michael and Terrie were able to be there with other friends and family as Ben took her into a replica of the Dr. Who “Tardis” (a time machine) leading into the University planetarium and sang ? “You’re the one I want to go through time with.”? Yes, it made this proud mother (and Jim Croce fan) cry. Oh, and Kate said, “YES!” So we are in the midst of planning a wedding June 22, 2013, in Texas! One week later, we’ll host a “Meet the Newlywed” gathering at our house in New Jersey. The Texas event will be a classic garden ceremony and reception at a boutique hotel. The New Jersey event will be more like a family reunion and barbecue.
Dwayne couldn’t be at the engagement event in Denton because it was opening night for his New Jersey debut as “Peter” in Company at the Kelsey Theater. It’s been a year now since we moved and Dwayne has been cast in two shows at the Kelsey. In January he’ll open in another Sondheim show, Sunday in the Park with George. In addition to the theater, Dwayne has become active in the worship and music team at the Allentown Presbyterian Church, which is the church he joined this spring.
Dwayne is still working for Eyestreet on government contracts. As technology is developing, he has been able to take advantage of training events in NYC, and conferences in Princeton and Denver to keep learning new developer skills.
Wendy is, officially, no longer the “new” Regional Presbyter. Working with eighty-eight congregations in two presbyteries is both challenging and rewarding. The year has been christened, so to speak, by “Superstorm” Sandy. The work in our congregations and in the presbyteries has been a true mark of grace in the communities in which they live.
The recovery from Sandy will take years on the Jersey Shore. Hopefully, it will not take as long for the two of us. Our house did have wind damage; now we know why the previous owners named our homestead, “Windy Acres.” The insurance company agrees with us that we need a new roof. We had four trees down and some minor damage to our shed and deck. Fortunately, the brand new hot tub was sheltered somewhat miraculously from the tree, which fell around it.
2013 promises to be a year of celebration, particularly as we prepare for Kate and Ben’s wedding in June. And we hope to see you … remember you are always welcome at “Windy Acres”. Our thoughts and prayers surround each of you as we are blessed this Holiday season.
Dwayne and Wendy