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Don’t get me wrong. Some things are different in the lives of the Chauvinists. What hasn’t changed is living in a prolonged state of medical crisis and the isolation that comes from it. We sort of feel like we’ve been in training for COVID since 2013. Oorah! Too bad for the rest of you.
Many of you have heard our saga before, so I’ll give the abbreviated version. Since late 2013 when Little Miss Anthrope was diagnosed with a congenital neurological condition (NF Type 1) at age 11 and resultant brain tumor (bad), she underwent 20 hours of brain surgery in four days with complications (worse), and then contracted meningitis two weeks later (devastating). She had a remission for about a year and then a recurrence requiring a year of chemotherapy treatment, which was marginally successful at keeping the tumor stable. Last summer she had a second recurrence and has been undergoing oral chemotherapy using a new drug which has shown the first success at shrinking the tumor since surgical resection, but the side effects are tough. We know tradeoffs better than most.
While all this was happening, Elder Chauvinist’s life started to fall apart, and only within the last couple of years did we learn the medical explanation. She has narcolepsy, among several other medical conditions. With treatment, she managed to get back to Hillsdale College for her second semester last fall after a two-year medical hiatus — just in time for COVID to close down the campus during the spring semester. You could say our lives have been challenging for a while.
And yet. . . we are surrounded by abundant beauty and goodness. No one is going hungry in our household, not the four of us, nor our three dogs, nor even the backyard birds. With LMA’s picky appetite and undesirable weight loss, we’re keeping the local fast food joints employed. I’m able to get out and replenish the pantry with delicious, nutritious food despite the precautions I must take to safeguard my medically vulnerable family. This involves mask-wearing and sterile technique for everything I bring into the house.
Our ability to pay the mortgage, buy insurance to cover our $20k plus monthly pharmaceutical expenses, and still live comfortably comes from Mr. C’s continuing to work throughout the COVID crisis in his long engineering career providing “essential services,” currently by testing satellite components for the space environment. We only ever worried about his employment for about a month many years ago when he was laid off from his 30-some year job in nuclear effects testing and missile defense. Some Ricochetti helpfully advised about low-cost cabbage meals at that time, but we never needed to downscale to that point. We are blessed.
And because we are blessed, we try to pass it along. We’re continuing to support my parish, despite being unable to attend Mass. We visited the site of the new, under-construction Catholic Center at our alma mater and spoke with the priest and deacon who serve the students on campus Saturday — we’re supporting them, too. We have paid for services not rendered over the past months: our housekeeper of nearly 30 years, our hairdresser of nearly 40 years, LMA’s piano teacher, and the dog groomer raising four little ones not her own have all received monies from us as if we had enjoyed their services. It’s the least we could do.
Home life for me is much the same as it has been, apart from doing my own housekeeping for a couple of months, which I found out I kind of enjoy. I cook a lot more, too, although we’re trying to support local restaurants at least a couple of times a week. But, I have time to read Ricochet and philosophize about suffering much as I always have. (Life of the party, I know!) I’ve also recently started taking piano lessons from LMA’s teacher since she’s not getting out, and doesn’t really feel up to it anyway. The committee on which I serve has canceled this year’s garden tour, but we’re still helping to plant and maintain one of the city’s flower beds. And my own garden is keeping me busy.
Speaking of gardening and philosophizing, life isn’t like a box of chocolates, it’s like gardening. We plant seeds and tend what grows, but ultimately, we’re not in control. We must practice patience, waiting for developments, and we suffer the vagaries of nature — weather, pests, disease. We take great joy in what thrives, but it will always be tempered by the losses. And there will always be losses. Our happiness depends not on preserving our lives from deprivation, but on appreciating the abundance of beauty and goodness that is a foretaste of heaven while we have it.
I want to finish by thanking you for wearing a mask while you perform essential tasks (grocery shopping, pharmacy visits, etc.), if you do. You’re doing it for families like mine. And, if you’re so inclined, we’re always appreciative of intercessory prayers, both in thanksgiving for the good we’ve enjoyed, and petitions for grace and fortitude as we keep calm and carry on.Published in