Category Archives: Family

Day 165: Magical Maine and An Unconventional New Years Eve

snow-stormMaine turned out to be exactly what I’ve always envisioned when I picture a white Christmas. Peering outside, I was mesmerized by the frosty snow-lined roads and towering trees. It was a scene straight from a postcard. N’s parents’ home is gorgeous – the downstairs a maze of antique-filled rooms and the upstairs a compilation of bedrooms with sweeping windows that frame the snowy landscape.

After spending time with his family, I could see how each person helped mold N into the man he is today. He got his love of adventure and his risk-taking nature from his Dad. N’s deep appreciation for thoughtful gestures and nurturing women is a result of his Mom. All of the pieces fell into place, slowly revealing N’s story. My favorite memories from the trip include a tranquil night time hike in the forest where snow rained from the sky like confetti. Playing board games in the library while the glowing fireplace roared in the background. Dining on some of the freshest seafood I’ve ever tasted at one of the town’s oldest restaurants. But best of all, I was able to establish a positive relationship with N’s family, who he cares so much about.

Soon it was December 31 and N and I awoke at 3:30 AM for our trip home. The journey involved an early morning bus ride from Maine to Boston and a two hour flight delay. Knowing we’d be jet lagged, we didn’t make big New Years eve plans for the night. We arrived home with just enough time to shower before dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant – the one where we shared our first real date. Afterward, we laid in bed watching a movie and total exhaustion set in. N leaned over and gave me a kiss as my eyelids fell. The clock struck 9:30 PM. Elsewhere, women were slipping into shiny cocktail dresses and bottles of wine were being uncorked. While the rest of Los Angeles was just beginning their New Years eve celebrations, N and I were already sound asleep.

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Day 124: Grandpa and a Very Bad Word

“Cancer” is such an ugly word. Yesterday when the doctor diagnosed my grandfather with bile duct cancer, my family’s hearts collectively dropped. Grandpa had been in and out of the hospital for months, so an announcement of this magnitiude wasn’t totally unexpected. He had successfully beat prostate cancer at age 66, and now in his mid-80s, he’ll undergo another surgery in an attempt to remove the new cancerous cells. The prognosis reveals that Grandpa’s chance of living for at least another five years is a meager 15%.

For as long as I’ve known him, my grandfather has been a man of few words. Although he’s soft spoken, the things he does say have a lasting impact. As a young girl eating dinner together, he’d tell me, “Take all you want, but eat all you take.” His message never failed to give me pause. Would I be able to finish that extra scoop of rice? Did I greedily put too much chicken on my plate? This was Grandpa’s way of expressing his generosity while reminding me not to be wasteful. He’s also a gifted piano player who can listen to a song then play the entire melody back by ear. When I was child, my elementary school had special “Show and Tell” days. While my classmates showed off their furry pets and shiny new toys, I brought in my grandfather to play the piano – no sheet music required.

Recently, Grandpa met N at a family gathering. As we departed, he shook N’s hand, looked him in the eyes and said “Take care of her.” I was slightly embarrassed at the time, but I’m thankful to have such a loving family member. My grandfather’s new bout with cancer is a reminder of the cold, hard truth about mortality. We can’t prevent certain diseases from taking hold, but we can determine what state our bodies are in if and when we’re affected. My focus on healthy eating and exercise will hopefully set me up to have the best chance later in life. I’m a pragmatist and the concept of death doesn’t frighten me. I’m at peace with the fact that my grandfather has reached old age and led a fulfilling life, surrounded by wonderful people. Even so, that doesn’t mean I’m ready to let him go.

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Day 106: Etsy and Christmas Shopping in November

There’s something about sending a thoughtful gift to a loved one that makes me deliriously happy. Taking pride in my gift-giving ability, I always look forward to the holiday season. The decorative wrapping paper. Colorful satin ribbon and bows. Sweet hand-written cards. I love it all. N invited me to visit his hometown in Maine this December. I’m excited to experience an actual winter (I still love you, snowless Southern California) and spend time with his family. And of course, this also means I get to shop for more presents.

My latest addiction is Etsy, a website that features handmade and vintage items. I spent much of yesterday browsing the site and carefully selecting the perfect gifts. There’s so much cool stuff to choose from that I could literally spend hours there (intervention, anyone?). I picked out a unique housewarming present for N’s parents and a cute holiday treat for the family dogs. I also discovered some delicious artisan chocolate-dipped candy that my colleagues at work would enjoy. Although it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, it’s never too early to plan. Everything on Etsy is custom-made and can take up to six weeks to deliver. Plus, I’d rather purchase everything now then just sit back and relax while my gifts are shipped to their recipients. It’s only November, but the Christmas gift-giving madness has officially begun.

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