Where The Popsicles Are-27

The countdown begins.

Sunday morning came, and we got settled in for one of our favorite times. I was dispatched to get the Sunday Tribune, and pick up some fresh bagels, bacon and cream cheese. We had once tried lox, which is traditional with bagels and cream cheese, but found our love of bacon to much to resist, and it turned out to be an excellent replacement. Joanie had decided we would have that munch on for our usual late morning lunch. I fixed coffee, and we turned on CBS Sunday Morning, that low-key, gentle on the mind, look at the arts, music, nature and human interest. For us it was the perfect way to start a leisurely Sunday morning.

The one thing that was different about this Sunday morning, however, was that it was the start of an incredibly difficult week, and the thought of that was not far from either of our minds. I could see it in Joanie’s demeanor that morning, as she went through the paper, pausing every so often, putting it down and staring out the window for a moment before taking another sip of coffee and picking it up again. We didn’t talk about what was coming, having done enough of that over the past few days, but we both knew the clock was ticking, and tomorrow morning we would be leaving.

I spent most of the time then, drinking coffee, looking at parts of the paper she was through with, and wondering to myself if I had taken care of all the details that needed attending to. At this point, I didn’t want any surprises that would put any more stress on Joanie than there already was. Near as I could figure, they were. The only thing left for us to do later today, was do the preliminary packing.

With the packing for this trip would come a role reversal. For the first time on a trip, I would be packing more clothes than Joanie. We had talked about what she would need for this trip, and decided that she needed something to wear for the trip down, something to wear to dinner with Ginny and Ed on Monday night, and something to wear on Tuesday before we checked her in to the hospital at 3:00 that afternoon. Going home afterwards, she could wear the same. In the end, I just told her she could take whatever she wanted, and as much she wanted. She did.

Joanie was a tall woman, and always fussed about how she looked which accounted for her always packing more than she would need. Her clothes leaned more toward classic kinds of looks, blue blazers, white turtlenecks, gray slacks or skirts, sweaters, etc. Like many people she worried about her weight, and she carried a lot of it on her hips and waist. Consequently, the looks she wore most would be ones that would not call attention to that fact, and every so often, I would get the question every husband dreads, when she would ask, “Does this make me look fat?” I never gave a wrong answer.

When it came to what I wore, she had some definite ideas of what was right and what was not, and from time to time, I would hear the words, many husbands hear, when she would ask, “You’re not going to wear that, are you?” She would look at me in disbelief as I said I had planned on it, and asked her why I shouldn’t. Her reply was always the same, “I don’t want you to look like a doofuss,”and as always, I would change. It became a joke over the years when I would ask her before we were going out, if I was looking doofussy or not.

Anyway, we would get to the packing later on that Sunday. The first order of business after we had our late lunch was nap time. Joanie would stretch out on the couch with Muffin on her lap, and I would go downstairs to the couch in the basement to be joined for a while by Peaches. It gave us both some alone time to consider the unspoken thoughts about what was coming, and I remember feeling really angry about what Joanie was facing later in the week. I did, however, keep those feelings to myself.

Late that afternoon, naps over, and as Muffin and Peaches jumped in and out of the suitcases on the bed, wondering what in the world was going on, we packed everything but what we’d be wearing in the morning, including more clothes than she could wear. Getting all of that out of the way eliminated one more thing we’d have to do on what would be a stressful morning.

Packing done, and since neither one of us was really very hungry, Joanie suggested that I get some French bread, and we would bring out the olive oil we had for dipping, open a bottle of wine, light a few candles and relax as best we could. That’s what we did, and while I don’t think we totally relaxed, some of the tension let go with the bread and the wine, and it was a good night in spite of the fact we knew the clock was ticking.

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About Bob Kallberg

Retired reporter. Concentrating now on recounting Joanie's 12 year battle with cancer, a battle she waged with extreme courage, determination and an indomitable spirit, that, for me, serves as an example.
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