catching up

I haven’t meant to keep you in the dark about life here. I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around posting much lately.

We have made a lot of progress with care for Nana. We now have her nurse/case manager from hospice on board and have been able to pass off prescription management to her. The number of medications needed has dropped because a number of them are no longer needed. For example, she doesn’t take a statin anymore because her cholesterol level is irrelevant at this point. It makes it easier to keep track of her meds, especially because hospice has taken over the ordering of refills.

Hospice is also handling medical equipment, such as oxygen and a wheelchair. They are good at solving problems, like providing cushions to protect her ears from the oxygen tubing. Simple things like that make a big difference.

It is nice to have just one number to call. If there are any questions, we just call hospice and they contact whichever doctor or service is needed. There is always someone on duty, even in the middle of the night, to address concerns or problems.

Meanwhile, ABC is already five weeks old! She had a checkup and is now almost two pounds (0.9 kg) heavier and 2 1/2 inches (6 cm) longer than when she was born. She has outgrown her preemie clothes and can wear regular newborn sizes. She is starting to focus on her surroundings. She is playing with some of her toys and is getting more tolerant of diaper changes, baths, and getting in and out of her carseat/carrier.

She is fascinated by her reflection in the mirror.

It is a blessing to have her here with E and L, watching them become a little family and assisting with baby care and general household tasks. Most advanced economies give parents paid time off for this life stage, although, sadly, the United States does not. We are grateful that E and L are able to have this important time to bond, especially because L will have to return to the UK in mid-August. We will miss watching his tender care of her, especially when he sits at the piano with her, cradling her in one arm and singing to her, accompanying himself with his free hand.

We are also blessed to be able to bring ABC to visit Nana and Paco. Unlike the earliest weeks, ABC now stays awake for part of the visit, so Nana and Paco get to see her deep blue eyes.

Tomorrow, L’s mom arrives from the UK and our younger daughter T arrives from Missouri. We are gathering for ABC’s baptism on Sunday.

ABC will wear a tiny white dress, first worn by my older sister, followed by me and our younger sister, twenty-some years later by my daughters, and twenty-some more years later by my granddaughter.

I retrieved it from the bottom of Nana’s cedar chest last week and we will return it there next week, in case another precious baby girl arrives in our family to wear it.

 

SoCS: baby signs

Having a baby in the house again is a revelation.

The last time I was around a newborn extensively was twenty-seven years ago when T was born.

E, L, B and I are all learning to read ABC’s signs.

It seems that every cry, squeak, whimper, wiggle, look, stretch and facial expression is trying to tell us something, if only we could discern its meaning correctly.

So far, ABC is doing well, despite her petite size. She had a bit of jaundice, but we were able to do light therapy at home. Her bilirubin count went down so well that we were able to return the unit yesterday.

It is a joy watching our daughter and son-in-law be such wonderful parents in these early days. It is a privilege to be a first-time grandparent with the baby living in our home for her first few months.

And it warms all of our hearts to see Nana and Paco with the baby, their first great-grandchild. We wish that B’s parents were still alive to meet her, too.
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “sign.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/06/16/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-1717/

 

SoCS: update

I admit that I am cheating on SoCS this week. I had a post that I had to write and it could not be stream of consciousness. My family has had a very eventful week. If you are so moved, you can read about it here.

I admit that tears are involved.
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “admit.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/06/09/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-1017/

 

Low/high

When I wrote this post in the wee hours of Monday morning, I had no idea what new highs and lows the next twenty-four hours would bring…

At 9:00 AM, Nana and I met with her primary care physician, Dr. T. What began as a discussion of her recent symptoms that had prompted us to be there quickly segued into a discussion of how her numerous health conditions and our treatment plan were not succeeding as we had all hoped, how the trajectory while there were ups and downs was trending downward, and how we needed to discuss and prepare for end-of-life planning.

I cried.

As I am sure you can imagine, or, perhaps, know from your own experience, the discussion was painful and emotional, but I am grateful for Dr. T’s honesty, care, and concern that made it possible for us to consider our options and get the help that Nana and all of us need. Barring a sudden event like a stroke, we are likely to have some unknown number of months with Nana, which we want to make as comfortable and peaceful as possible, as filled with family and friends as her strength allows.

We are starting with getting home care recommenced, but the new goal will be to have therapists and aides to help care for her so that she can conserve energy for fun things, instead of wasting it on mundane things. For example, while a goal of her physical therapy had been to be able to walk down to the dining room at their retirement community for dinner, a new goal will be to get a wheelchair so she can ride to the dining room and have energy to eat and visit with friends.

We expect that there will continue to be some days that are better than others, but we hope to have enough support to keep Nana at home in the apartment she shares with Paco. They have been married for 63 years and belong together!

I spent much of Monday afternoon communicating with family members that needed to know what was going on and wrapping my head around our next steps. E and L took over dinner preparations and we settled in for an evening together watching television. E wanted to watch the Stanley Cup (ice hockey) game and was ensconced on the couch with L, when, a bit before 8:00 PM, she startled all of us with the news that her water had broken.

In short order, there was a call to the obstetrician’s office, the message saying to head to the hospital, the hurried assembling of some supplies, and the four of us driving off to the hospital where we arrived at about 8:30.

E and L headed into the delivery suite while B and I set up in the waiting room, thinking that, given that E had not been having noticeable contractions, they might send us home while she rested for the night and waited for labor to begin in earnest. The reason we thought this might be the scenario is that, when I was pregnant with E, my water broke at 36.5 weeks and it took 26 hours for her to arrive.

And E was also at 36.5 weeks.

This was a different labor-and-delivery story.

Baby arrived before 1:00 AM Tuesday, on the sixth of the month.

E was also born on the sixth of the month.

Baby weighed five pounds, five ounces (2.4 kg) and was eighteen inches (46 cm) long.

E was born at that exact weight and length.

Baby has a full head of hair, as did E, although E was strawberry blond (later changing to golden blond) and Baby has dark hair, like L’s.

E and L named their new daughter Ada. Henceforth, I will likely refer to her here on the blog as ABC, which are her initials, but I did want to share her lovely name with you in honor of her birth.

B and I got to share a little time with the new little family before heading home to catch a few winks before the sun rose. We each got to hold our precious first grandchild and reflect on the parallels between E and little Ada.

One more: Ada, like E, is the first grandchild on both sides of the family.

L was able to stay at the hospital with E and ABC until they came home on Wednesday. On Thursday, they went up to meet Nana and Paco.

Nana and Ada 6/8/17
(Great) Nana and Ada meet for the first time

Maybe Ada was in a hurry to arrive so that she could meet Nana as soon as possible.

I’m sure she will bring us all much-needed joy in the coming months.

halfway to nana-hood

Today, I took daughter E, who is in residence with us and expecting a baby in the early summer, to her 20-week ultrasound appointment. Her husband L , who is currently in the UK, was able to join us via skype.

When I was pregnant 25-30 years ago, ultrasounds were not yet routine in our area, so I had neither had one nor seen one before today.

It was amazing to be able to see the baby developing. I hadn’t realized that we would be able to see all four chambers of the heart, the stomach, and all the vertebrae, and be able to measure the length of arm and leg bones.

I’m happy to report that everything looks good, with growth right on schedule.

And E has some new “baby photos” to bring with her when she goes to visit L and his extended family in a few days. I’m sure Baby’s other set of first-time grandparents will be as happy to see them as B and I are!

 

April 19

As everyone from Massachusetts knows, April 19th is the traditional date of Patriots’ Day. The date should also be familiar to everyone who had to memorize the opening of Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride” as the date of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, which began the American Revolutionary War.

April 19th is also the date of my parents’ wedding anniversary.

This year was their 62nd!

Patriots’ Day was part of the reason they married on April 19th. They thought that my father would always get their anniversary off from work. They had not anticipated the Monday Holiday Bill, which moved many of the holidays from their traditional dates to the closest Monday, giving a long weekend from work, but obscuring the original meaning of the date.

The other reason they married on April 19 was that it was Easter Monday that year. In the Catholic tradition, weddings are not usually celebrated during Lent, so Easter Monday/Patriots’ Day seemed the perfect date to begin their life together.

Of course, given the complexities of life, no marriage could be perfect, but theirs has been a wonderful witness to what a marriage can be when each partner loves and looks out for the other.

Next month, B and I will celebrate our 34th anniversary. I hope and pray that we will be granted the longevity and love that has blessed my parents.

Maybe it will help that I take (mental) notes…

 

March 25th

March 25th, 2016 was Good Friday.

So was March 25th, 2005.

The only reason I remember that fact was that that was the day my friend Angie died.

When she died after fighting cancer for over four years, both of B’s parents were still alive. His dad died in July, 2005, also from cancer; his mom, on Tuesday of Holy Week, just a few days before the 11th anniversary of Angie’s death.

In the early morning hours of March 25th, when I couldn’t sleep, I visited the website of the the charity that Angie’s family established in her memory. I always make a donation on March 25th and on October 25th, which was Angie’s birthday.

This year, the paypal link was broken, so I emailed to ask about it.

Her eldest son sent me a reply and set about getting the link fixed. He also sent me a wonderful photo of his daughter, whose middle name is Angeline, after the grandmother she will never meet on this earth. In the photo, she has a marker in her tiny hand. She may be an artist, like Angie.

Life goes on.

 

Friday night fun? – part 2

In part one of this post, I wrote about reading at poetry open mic for the first time.  Here is a (somewhat condensed) continuation of the story.

While stopped at a traffic light on the way home, I turned the ringer of my phone back on and was surprised to see that there was a missed call from my husband B, who had stayed at home because he wasn’t feeling well.  He knew where I was and that I wouldn’t have the phone on during the reading, so I immediately became apprehensive and rushed home to find that my mom (Nana) had called for advice as to whether she should have my dad (Paco) take her to the walk-in or the emergency room when she had suddenly exhibited symptoms of a gastrointestinal bleed.

B advised the emergency room.

B had called my cell phone, hoping that I would put my ringer back on before leaving the bookstore so that I could get to the hospital more quickly, but, as it turned out, it was good that I had gone home first. They phoned again during the few minutes I was home to say that Nana was being put into a room in the ER. I grabbed a few magazines that I could leave with my mother for entertainment during the inevitable waiting times and headed out to the hospital.

The ER waiting room was filled to overflowing and there were so many patients back in the unit itself that some were in the hallway. My mom was in a room, though, because they needed to keep her hitched up to cardiac monitors, given that some of her symptoms could have been a second heart attack. Her heart was okay, but she needed to stay in the hospital to figure out where the bleeding was occurring. There were no rooms available in the hospital proper, so, about 2 AM, she was moved to another section of the ER that had beds rather than gurneys.

The next day, the gastroenterologist who was on weekend call, Dr. B., came in and we decided that it was best to do a colonoscopy on Sunday morning and Nana was admitted to the GI unit when space became available. The colonoscopy revealed that Nana had developed arteriovenous malformations (AVM) and was bleeding from several different sites, which Dr. B. cauterized. Dr. B. explained it to us as being similar to varicose veins that break through to the surface and bleed. Unfortunately, the meds that Nana needs to take due to her cardiac stents don’t help matters, as they act to prevent blood from clotting easily.

Although Nana had lost quite a bit of blood, the doctors decided not to transfuse but to let her try to build back her blood count on her own.  This didn’t turn out so well, as Nana had to spend several days in the hospital about a month later when her low iron levels started to affect her blood pressure. They finally gave her a couple of units of blood and, while her iron level isn’t quite up to what is considered normal, she is slowly gaining strength and getting back to some parts of her old routine – with, we hope, more progress to come as spring continues to unfold and we celebrate Mother’s Day and her birthday.

There is no way to tell when the AVMs may recur, so, for now, there are weekly blood tests so that, if she becomes more anemic, the gastroenterologist can intervene before she loses too much blood.

Vigilance is our friend, as is following through on recommended treatment, medication, and lifestyle choices. It’s what has kept Nana and Paco as active as they are as they age.

But fingers crossed that we don’t have any more medical adventures in the coming months.

We all need a rest.

Do hospitals run two-for-the-price-of-one specials?

This was supposed to be the schedule for Thursday.
5 AM: Get up.
5:30: Arrive at my parents’ apartment to get us to the ambulatory surgery unit of the hospital.
6:00: Wait in the waiting room until surgery because only one person is allowed to be with the patient in the unit.
8:00: Dad has laparoscopic hernia repair surgery while Mom and I grab breakfast at the hospital cafeteria.
9:00: Surgery complete. Talk to doctor. Mom waits for him to be brought back to his cubby in the ambulatory surgery unit while I drive to church for
10:00: Millie’s funeral, where my daughter Trinity is singing in the choir. After the funeral, attend the funeral luncheon in the church hall.
1 PM: Check in with my parents by phone to see if there is a release time set for Dad yet. Drop off my daughter at home and get to the hospital to bring my parents home and get them settled, perhaps in time to attend
4:30: Poetry workshop.
6:00: Dinner with my daughter, followed by rest, attending to email, phone call with my husband who is traveling for business this week, television, etc.

We followed the schedule until 7:35 AM.

Dad was all ready to be brought down to the operating room and Mom came to get me from the ambulatory unit waiting room so we could re-locate to the OR waiting room. As we neared Dad’s cubby, Mom got really dizzy, grabbing onto a spare gurney in the hallway for support. We were just outside Dad’s cubby, so we navigated to a recliner next to his gurney. I got her a sip of water from the bottle she had with her, hoping she was just a bit dehydrated, but it didn’t help. She started to zone in and out of responding to my and Dad’s questions and we were becoming alarmed. Just then, a transport person arrives to bring Dad to surgery and he helps me to get nurses there to help Mom.

Suddenly, we have at least half a dozen people in the tiny cubby, so I have to step out into the hall. I hear someone say her pulse is twenty. They put her on oxygen, which seems to help her pulse a bit. Her skin is clammy. She is continuing to zone in and out of awareness. Sometimes, she could answer a question from the medical team, but more often my father would. Yes, she had eaten some breakfast at 5 so she could take her meds. From the hall, I chime in to let people know that I am their daughter, that Mom has a history of TIA. The staff calls for a team to come up from emergency to bring her down for evaluation, as it is clear something is really wrong. Snatches of prayer mixed in with the jumble of thoughts in my head.

Meanwhile, the OR is waiting for my Dad. It has only been about five minutes, I think; my perception of time is distorted by so much happening at once. They ask Dad if he wants to postpone surgery, but I tell him to go, that I would take care of Mom. On a practical level, we had to get Dad’s gurney out of the cubby in order to get the transport gurney in to take Mom to the emergency room and I knew that with Dad under anesthesia in the OR, at least he would not be worrying about Mom for a little while. There really wasn’t anything he could do; we both needed to let the professionals do what they needed to do.

They lift Mom onto the gurney and attach her line to a portable oxygen tank, as they had initially attached it to the central wall unit. They rush her down a patient elevator to the ER – one of the few things my mom remembers between the initial dizziness and being in the ER was that she told them it was a rough ride – and the nursing supervisor takes me down by another route. When I arrive outside the curtained area where they are working on her, Mom is able to answer some questions on her own, but I am able to help with some of the them. Frustratingly, a new computer system had gone in to the hospital in June, so they weren’t able to bring up her information easily. I had to give addresses and contact numbers. I have my mom’s pocketbook in which she carries a complete list of her medications, which was a huge help. Meanwhile, the ER team is getting monitors attached and I hear them tell my mom within a few minutes that she is having a heart attack. I also hear her surprised reaction. She isn’t having chest pain, but does have a pain in her back.

At this point, they had IVs started and they let me go back to be beside Mom. They give her baby aspirin to chew and administer heparin and plavix. The pain in her back goes away. They tell us there are clots or blockages that need to be cleared in the cath lab, that the cardiologist on emergency call is getting ready to do that, that the aspirin and other blood thinners have relaxed the vessels enough to help the blood circulate better so that the back pain went away, that we are lucky she was already in the hospital when she had the heart attack so that treatment was started very quickly because that tends to lead to better outcomes, although not guarantees. Mom tells me I should still go to the funeral; she is worried about my sisters, who are together on a Florida vacation, and Dad. I tell her that I will handle everything, that she needs to concentrate on herself right now.

She is wheeled up to the heart catheterization lab – on a much cushier and more shock-absorbent ER gurney – and a nurse brings me first to the OR waiting room to tell them what has happened and then to the cardiac waiting room. Although it feels like a long time has passed, it’s not yet 8:30. My dad’s in the OR, my mom’s in the cath lab, and I’m alone. I call my husband, Brent. I guess the first words out of my mouth were, “I need you to come home.” Because I did. I tell him what is going on and that I would call back as I know more. He needs a couple of hours before he can leave anyway. As I wait, I am making lists in my head of how and when to tell people. I knew I couldn’t tell my daughter until after the funeral. I was hoping she wouldn’t get too worried when she realized I wasn’t in the congregation; the choir is in the front of the church, so she would be able to see that I hadn’t arrived. I post a vague Facebook message asking for prayers/good thoughts for my parents. I couldn’t be specific because I didn’t want our older daughter, six hours earlier in time zones so it was still the middle of the night, to see a post that her grandmother had had a heart attack first thing when she woke up in the morning. I needed to make sure that my sisters didn’t find out via social media, too.  And I needed to be able to give good news about what I was praying would be successful treatment. As much as I wanted company in the frightened, shocked place where I was, I didn’t want to subject anyone else to it, although I had already, by necessity, dragged my husband into it. And I wasn’t sure if I would need to be the one to tell my father after he was out of recovery. And, more than anything, I needed to have two successful outcomes to report.

Dr. T, my dad’s surgeon comes in at ten of nine. Dad’s surgery had gone well and he is in recovery. Dr. T knew what was going on with my mom and had decided to admit him for a day or two, because he is 89 and because it would be easier for us. Obviously, the plan for him to go home with my mom to look after him was not going to happen. He had tried to see if he could put them in the same hospital room, but my mom would have to go to the cardiac unit, which only has private rooms. Dr. T says that it was very lucky my mom had already been in the hospital when the heart attack happened. I call my husband with the update and resume alternately pacing or sitting, staring into space. I had reading material and my iPad but couldn’t concentrate enough to use them. The CBS morning news on the waiting area television finishes and a repeat of Queen Latifah starts. She is congratulating Boston on the successful marathon. Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts was originally April 19th. My parents’ wedding anniversary. Sixty years. More prayers.

At about 9:25, Dr. K., the on-call cardiologist comes out. Mom had had two blocked arteries that they had opened through angioplasty and that were now being held open with stents. Another report of how lucky she was to have already been in the hospital. I need to wait there and they will come get me when my mom is ready to be moved to her room. I call my husband again with the news. We are so thankful and relieved. Our conversation is brief; he needs to finish getting ready to leave. I am alone again, but feeling an intense need to talk to someone. Someone with whom I am used to sharing personal and spiritual issues. I want to call my friend and spiritual companion Yvonne, but I can’t remember her phone number, which is stored in the cell phone my husband has with him. I use my iPad – and the hospital’s free wifi – to search for her home phone and call. She is home and we speak for about ten minutes, which calms me down a bit, helpful as I have gone from the paralysis of numb anxiety into a phase where I am feeling jittery.

While I was speaking to Yvonne, my sister Kathy had called the cell phone that my husband had, because it is the one I usually carry. She was looking for news on my dad, as she had expected a call by then. He had to tell the story to her. It was a blessing that she hadn’t called until Mom was out of the cath lab, so that he could tell her that she and Dad were both okay. I missed Brent’s call while talking to Yvonne, so I call him, find out that he has spoken to Kathy and call her, using my mom and dad’s cell, which is in my mom’s pocketbook. We only speak briefly because a nurse comes to take me back to my mom, who is being moved to the cardiac care unit.

The nurse tells me that my mom and dad have met up in the hallway outside of the recovery area. They got to talk and hold hands for a moment. They got to see that they are both all right. My dad says not to make him laugh because laughing makes his belly hurt, but just saying it makes him chuckle.  The nurses all think that they are an amazing couple. I know that they are. Later, my mom, who was only under sedation in the cath lab, will remember this hallway encounter. My dad, who had been under anesthesia, loses the memory from this point in his recovery process.

I ride up in the elevator with my mom and wait in another waiting room while they get her settled in her room and attached to all the monitors. When a nurse comes to get me, I first have to stop at the desk for a phone call. Another nurse is calling to tell me my father’s room number. She had also been witness to their hallway meeting. My parents are adorable and we were so lucky that my mom was already in the hospital when she was stricken. I thank her and tell her that I know how lucky I am to have them.

Other than the fact that my mom is not allowed to move her right leg where the catheter had been threaded from her groin up to her heart and that she needs to keep her head back on the pillow and still, she is amazingly chipper. We talk about everything that has gone on and I let her know of the few people that know what has happened. I need to make more calls and I need to get to church after the funeral to tell Trinity. Mom says that she will make phone calls so I can make a visit to Dad’s room and then head to church, where I can tell Trinity and we can attend the luncheon.

Dad is resting in his room, still a bit groggy from the anesthesia. We talk about how lucky we are that Mom is okay. He says they are the talk of the hospital. They have promised to take him down in a wheelchair to visit her a bit later in the afternoon, after they have both had a chance to rest. I let him rest and head out to the church. It’s a little after 11:00.

As I near the church, I see the funeral procession on its way to the cemetery. I go into the church hall and ask the choir member who had driven Trinity to church for choir warmup before the funeral if she knows where Trinity is. She is still in church. She has a worried look on her face and I tell her that Nana and Paco are both doing fine. Then, I deliver the first of several shortened renditions of the story. Right before Paco was brought down to surgery, Nana had a heart attack. They took her to the ER and then the cath lab and put in two stents. Paco’s surgery went well. Now they are both in the hospital for a couple of days, but everything is fine. We are very lucky her heart attack took place at the hospital. Trinity gives me a long hug, which I definitely needed.

We only told a few people at the funeral luncheon what had happened. Several people that we had known for a long time. Three priests whom we asked for prayers. Most importantly, Millie’s daughter Nancy, our good friend and Trinity’s godmother. I told her I was sorry to have missed the funeral, but, of course, she understood, reminding me that her father, who was sitting close by would not have survived a cerebral hemorrhage years before were it not for the fact that it had happened while he was already in the hospital.

In  a way, even though I was not physically present at the funeral, I was there in a spiritual sense.  I had written the universal prayer that closes the liturgy of the word before the liturgy of the Eucharist begins. Nancy, all three priests, and a friend who had also participated in reading the petitions thanked me for the words I had written. I was heartened to know that my words enabled me to have a presence in Millie’s funeral in my absence.

Trinity and I leave the luncheon a bit after 1:00, which meant that our older daughter, Beth, would be up and about in Honolulu. While I drove to the hospital, Trinity calls Beth to fill her in. We go to Nana’s room to visit and to Paco’s room. Brent arrives and we alternate rooms for visiting. My dad’s room in particular can’t easily accommodate three visitors at once.

The next two days are filled with visits back and forth to the hospital. My dad gets a couple of visits to my mom’s room, which are good for both of them. They are both discharged on Saturday, a process which winds up taking over five hours.

Last night, they got to sleep in their own beds. They need to take it easy for a few days. Mom has some new meds added to her daily regimen. Follow-up visits need to be scheduled. Dad’s incisions and muscles will heal. Due to the speed of re-opening the arteries, Mom has no damage to her heart. They have very few restrictions and will be able to ease back into their social and exercise routine over the coming days/weeks. We are so thankful that they are doing so well and are very grateful for the care they received.

But my dad still wants to know, as he kept joking, if the hospital gives discounts. He thinks two for the price of one should apply.

 

 

The Rose Bush

When I started this blog, I reserved the right to post some older essays or poems that have been hanging out on my hard drive. I wanted to share this today because the rose bush is flowering now. Various changes have happened since I wrote this. My parents have a new senior community where they don’t have a deck and there have been other complications, but we do have a (relocated daughter) rose bush blooming in our yard.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Today, April 19, 2007, is my parents’ 53rd wedding anniversary. It is also twelve days until they move from the cozy, two-bedroom bungalow they have owned for 18 years into a two-bedroom apartment in a senior living community a few miles away.

The move is their own choice, not precipitated by any health emergency. They want to settle into a place with transportation, meals, housekeeping, recreation and other services, available to use as they need them in the coming years.

They have been going through their attic, basement, garage, and five rooms, choosing what to bring with them, what to send to our home, what to give to each of my two sisters, and what to donate to charity.

There is one important heirloom that they can’t bring with them or give to anyone – a rosebush.

Beside every home that they have shared for 53 years, my parents have transplanted a rosebush that grew next to my mother’s childhood home in Hoosac Tunnel, Massachusetts.

This is not a spindly, delicate, high-maintenance, hybrid tea rose, but a rose bush that is only a generation away from its wild cousins. Its stems are thick with thorns and its leaves are more abundant and a fresher, brighter green than the florist kinds of roses. Its blossoms have deep pink petals, which open in the sun to reveal a large cluster of yellow stamens, heavy with pollen. Unlike highly cultivated varieties, these roses’ scent is intense and attracts many bumblebees, who drink the nectar, busily fill the pollen sacs on their legs, fly to their nest, and then return for more. In testament to the work of the bees, when the petals flutter down to the ground below the bush, it produces large, bright red rose hips that decorate the branches for months.

Planted at their current home with its slightly warmer climate, the bush has grown very large and often produces a second round of blossoms in late summer. It is also part of the landscaping of their house, and as such, is being sold along with it. Given its current size, it also could not be transplanted again without serious damage to its roots.

This heirloom rose bush will still be close to our family, though. Fifteen years ago, we transplanted a shoot from the rose next to our own home, where it has thrived. Now we will propagate a new bush from it and put it in a container that my parents can keep on the little deck off their living room at the apartment.

It should be ready to bud a few weeks after their 54th anniversary.