June 21: Day 21

A group of Fellows retirees last year started the tradition of a retirement trip to Vegas. This year a group carried that torch onward and because Mom was among the retirees, she took the rare plunge and signed up. 

Needless to say, one of the first things Dr. Otteman told her after her diagnosis was, "No trip." At that moment, it was merely one more cruel gut check. 

I own the bulk of wanderlust in this family, yet in recent years it has delighted me to watch Mom experience the wonder and adventure of travel. Robbing her of her first true 'girls trip' seemed especially cruel, no matter how insignificant it was in that moment, given the gravity of the diagnosis. Of course, she would have it no other way, that trip went on without her. Or so she thought.

The day the group left for Vegas, last year's retirees swept in and took her to lunch. The next day, Jamie White showed up, gimped up herself and also unable to travel. She brought with her a slot machine so she and Mom could do a little gambling from the comfort of recliners. 

Shortly thereafter photos began to appear of "Flat Susan" and "Flat Jamie" their heads atop popsicle sticks, experiencing the sights and scenes of Vegas in an adventure so hilarious I found myself waking up each morning checking Facebook to see where they wound up the night before. 

Their adventures took them to Elvis' Wedding Chapel, the pool to share cocktails, the Hoover Dam and many other places. At one point they paid homage to the Hangover (despite Mom never having seen it) by getting 'lost' in the trunk together Chow-style overnight. 

Last night Mom said, "I think Jamie and I might have had more fun on that Vegas trip than those other girls did!"

***

There have been countless blessings, acts of love and thoughtfulness that have been bestowed upon each of us each of these 21 days. I wanted to recount a particularly touching one here to kick off summer as I think it is such a lovely testament to the impact Mom makes on everyone, but in particular her impact on kids.

Mom met soon to be eighth grader Abbie Eastman way back in my Tyler's first days at daycare at Peggy Warren's as she frequently was tasked with pick up or drop off duties. Abbie connected with Mom again as a student at Fellows, as Mom described, "She never missed a daily hug." Abbie is still among Tyler's buddies.

She showed up at Mom's two days ago with her mom Tracy, and a gift she made. They spent some fantastic time together, sharing those infamous hugs, a few tears and Abbie gave Mom a blanket she'd spent the past week plus creating. 

It is absolutely beautiful; Abbie hand tied and sewed the entire thing herself. I have never seen Mom more touched than she was by Abbie's kindness. Later Mom tearfully shared that she knew Abbie was sad and worried as she would soon leave for camp, and although it was unspoken, Mom knew Abbie worried she might not see Mom again. 

So often it takes the beautiful innocence of a child in their rawness and vulnerability to illustrate for all of us precisely our feelings. 

Mom worked out a deal with Abbie; she'll take Flat Susan on her next adventure: to camp, and Abbie will come back next visit with pictures.