Skipping Thanksgiving

This year's Thanksgiving week was totally different than past years. We found out about a week ago that my mom would have heart surgery in Rochester, MN on Monday the 19th. My sis and I quickly made plans to be there for the surgery and recovery. I had the oddest feelings while getting ready and leaving for the trip. While I was glad to be able to spend the time with my mom, I wasn't looking forward to the trip, nor was I looking forward to being away from Amelia and Bear. My flights to MN were uneventful and boring. You know that I'm a talker. No one wanted to talk. That was okay because I had an early flight of 6 a.m.  When I arrived at the airport at 5:15 Saturday morning, a huge line quickly formed behind me. I was about 6 people away from the desk. I only had to check in. I prided myself in the fact that I fit all my belonging for 3 days in my carry on. If you know me well and have traveled with me in the past, this was a huge feat! I only packed one pair of shoes. My running shoes, of course. :) There was only one attendant at the desk. I was getting antsy because I didn't know how long it would take for me to get through security and on to the plane. I decided not to worry too much because all those people had to be getting on my plane! I got my ticket, managed to get through security after being frisked because I had my cell phone in my back pocket. (Michelle and fam were right behind me and I was trying to alert her of the situation.) I took a quick look at my ticket, didn't buckle my shoes and quickly walked toward my gate. As I approached the gate (which I quickly noticed was deserted) I heard my name being called over the intercom! I had looked at the wrong number on my ticket! I looked at the seat number/letter! It was the only thing in bold print on my ticket. So at that point my heart drops and I start running (with shoes unbuckled) toward my gate! 5 minutes later I arrive...nearly a sweaty mess...at 6 a.m.! I board the packed plane and then wait 10 more minutes for all the people still in line! So, at that point, I was awake sans coffee!After a short layover in Chicago, I headed to MN with no problems.

We all met up in the airport and took the shuttle to the hotel and then on to the Mall of America.

I really can't find a photo to do it justice. There's no way to wrap your head around the size of this place! After walking almost all of the floors, I can say that the first floor has the best stores. The second had the teeny-bopper stores and third was mostly restaurants, while the fourth had fast food and a movie theater. So, that made it smaller to me. So if, for some reason, I ever go back...I'll stick with the first floor. :)

I was a little excited to go to the mall, but about half way through, my 4 a.m. wake up call was catching up with me. :( I was dragging. We were there all afternoon and into the night. Needless to say, I slept very good that night!

Hudson and I taking a break in a shoe store. I love this little man!

 My breakfast buddies! :)

The next day, we took a van to Rochester, which was about an hour and a half away from Minneapolis. 

We arrived and checked into our hotel. It was called The Aspen. It was so nice! It had a ski lodge theme.

This is the lobby. I spent about an hour down here one night waiting for my clothes to finish washing. :) Very cozy.

We all hunkered down in a big suite to watch the last NASCAR race of the season and eat pizza. It was a fun afternoon. Later that night, my mom got word that she was to be at the hospital (Saint Mary's) across the street at 5:45 a.m. After making a few phone calls and texting the info, she started feeling really bad. Her heart went into a-fib rhythm. Michelle and I decided to accompany my mom and Garry to the ER and Sammy stayed with their kids. It was a scary/funny thing. We zoomed downstairs, ran across the street and put my mom in a wheelchair. We followed all the red signs to the ER on the other side of the building. After just a few minutes, we were able to go back where they were trying to stabilize my mom. We stayed with her until they moved her to the ICU for the night. At that point, we didn't know if they would continue with the plan to do surgery. We were praying that her heart would go back into regular rhythm, so the surgery could take place as planned. 

Our prayers were answered. A simple thing as my mom sitting up on the side of the bed caused her heart to go back into rhythm. Weird! 

My sis and I headed to the hospital at 7 a.m. on Monday morning. We waited for the nurses to come and get our mom for surgery. Even though we knew it would be okay, it was an aweful feeling as we watched them wheel her away. A nurse met us in the hall and told us that she would call us several times during the surgery. At that point, we felt like it would be all day! We all settled into a waiting area and it wasn't long before the nurse called and told us she would be taking us to meet the surgeon. We met with him and he said everything went well. We were relieved! 

We waited for about another hour for them to settle her into the cardiac ICU and then we were able to go and see her. This is what I wasn't prepared for...she was still sedated, tubes and iv's everywhere. I was so emotional. I knew she was okay and the worst part was over, but I could tell there was a long road ahead.  We decided to let her rest and go to lunch and then we went back to the hotel to get some rest. Everyone else rested but me. I got on the phone with the airline and moved my return flight from the next day until Friday. I decided after seeing my mom that I really wanted to stay until she was more stable or released. Two hours later I had new flight plans. (My sis really wanted to stay as well, but it would have been too expensive for her to have changed flight plans.)

We returned to the icu to see my mom and sweet Garner wanted to go and see her. She was still resting and Garner put one of her Spiderman band-aids on my mom's hand. :) She is such a sweetheart. She was trying to wrap her little mind around what was going on. On Sunday afternoon, my mom told her she had a boo boo on her heart and the doctor was going to fix it. Garner kept gesturing with her hand and asking her why. She did so well with all the waiting, etc. 

Photo: So sweet watching Garner say " night night MawMaw" then she told the nurse to keep her safe. Oh my heart!

My mom stayed in the ICU for the remainder of Monday and got moved to a private room mid-day Tuesday. Michelle and fam went home about that time. 

After my mom got settled in her room, Garry and I set up camp there. We were glad we were able to be with her around the clock. It was truly amazing to see how she grew in strength each day. I couldn't believe that she would come home in the same week after seeing her post surgery! The body is an amazing mechanism. 

Garry began spending the night in the room on Tuesday and I would go back to the hotel each night and stay. We had moved to a smaller room on Tuesday. This was the first time I'd ever stayed in a hotel by myself. I asked myself it I was creeped out or if it was cool. I never felt scared, but it lost it's cool fast. It became a bit lonely. Tuesday night I entertained myself with a movie I'd never seen. It's called Safe House.  It was action packed. I would like to watch it one day with Bear. I was hoping it wouldn't keep me up because I watched it right up until I went to sell. No problems there. Every night I went to bed earlier than I do at home and I slept like a baby! I think the main reason was because I was just emotionally drained. I'd never experienced such a thing as this as an adult. When I was a child three grandparents passed away. Two had long illnesses, but it's different to experience something like this at an age where you absorb so much.  It was good for me, yet hard enough that I never wish to experience it again.

It was a really difficult decision to stay and not spend Thanksgiving with Bear and Amelia. For the past 13 years, Bear and I have gone to Alabama to spend Thanksgiving with his parents.  I knew it would be sad to "skip Thanksgiving", but I felt like this year was different and I needed to be with my mom. I didn't know if I wanted to stay more for me or them. Either way, I stayed.

Wednesday it was unseasonably warm in Rochester.  I decided to take a walk a few blocks away to a strip mall. I happened upon a consignment shop with tons of great clothes.  It is called All In Vogue.  I just realized they sell their clothes on their website. They sell designer jeans at great deals. They also have a liquidation room. A liquidation room in a consignment shop? Yes! I scored a pair of Gap jeans for 3.95! Crazy! That totally made my day! 

At this point in the trip I had worn every piece of clothing I had packed.  And, at this point, I was wishing I'd paid that precious $25 to check a larger bag so I would have more variety. Oh well! I had these new jeans and I wore them! 

Thursday was Thanksgiving. I knew it would be a bit depressing to be at the hospital and be away from Bear and Amelia.  It was a weird day, but I pushed through.  After a "lovely" lunch at the hospital, I headed out for a run along a paved trail a few blocks behind my hotel. It was really nice to breathe fresh air. I ran twice on treadmills earlier in the weeks. This was great! It really broke up my day. I believe I ran about 4 miles. 

After showering, I met new friends down in our hotel lobby and we had a Thanksgiving dinner! My sis and Sammy introduced me to a couple that was there because their six month old daughter was having heart surgery.  She is a twin and her brother, Aidan was there.  I got to hold him for a few minutes one day. He is a sweetie.  I never got the opportunity to meet Ava Grace, but I heard a lot about her. Here is her blog, if you want to check it out. Her parents are super sweet! 

I got to sit across the table from Christina's dad at dinner. We covered many subjects in the hour or so that we chatted over dinner. You could tell I hadn't talked to many people that week. :)  He is an expert on the Native Americans. It was an interesting conversation.

Friday was my last day and I spent the morning at the hospital. It was a chilly 18 degrees! Yikes! I don't think I've ever experienced that cold before! I can honestly say that I could live without experiencing it again! 

Right after lunchtime, my mom was released from the hospital. Amazing! I had to say what I thought was goodbye until Memphis because I had to catch the van back to the airport.  Garry wheeled my mom over to the hotel lobby right before I boarded the van! I had to snap a "welcome home" pic!

Photo: They're baaaack!!!

I was so glad to see her smiling and I knew she was glad to be released from "jail". :)

I had a good conversation with the van driver on the way to the airport. I was the only passenger! Haha! 
We discovered that we both shared a love for running! He isn't able to run anymore, but told me about the Minneapolis/St. Paul Marathon. He talked about how beautiful the run is as it goes from one city to the next. 

In no time I was at the airport and ready to get home! I was so looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.  When I arrived at the Charlotte airport, I immediately noticed the rocking chairs in the waiting areas. I knew it! I had arrived on Southern soil. :)  After dinner, I headed to my terminal.  I thought our flight would never get to leave. We waited, it seemed like forever, to take our turn to taxi onto the runway.  I'm too nervous to sleep on the plane, so I just sat in the dark, waiting for the landing.  It finally came! I couldn't wait for Kelly to pick me up! I'm so thankful for this sweet friend! 

It felt super weird to come home and be here by myself for almost a day. I got a lot done, but was ready to see Bear and Amelia. Saturday afternoon they got home.  It was a great reunion! 

This was definitely a different Thanksgiving and though I skipped the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I didn't skip the opportunity to give Thanks and be Thankful for all the ways the Lord has blessed me.

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