I rarely use this space to get really personal but thought this story might be allowed as an exception to the rule. Especially as a tough year nears its end. As you may know, Jupiter and Saturn were kissin’ cousins astrologically speaking this week. If you glanced into the night sky on the Winter Solstice, you could have seen what appeared to be an exceptionally brilliant “star.” What really happened is that the two planets reached their closest conjunction since the 17th century. But you have to go back 400 years before to find a time when they looked so intensely bright.
In reality, they were many more than a few million miles from each other. But that’s next door to telescope aficionados, and to us Earthlings, it looked as if both heavenly bodies were one.
What made the event more interesting is speculation that perhaps the same alignment happened a little over two thousand years ago and was visible from certain middle eastern villages where shepherds were abiding in their fields and three Wise Men were gazing at the sky. That star perhaps pointed toward the heralded birth of a baby in Bethlehem. This year, there was another Christmas miracle that occurred in a slightly larger village near Dayton, Ohio. It also involved a small child, but there was another important, somewhat older person who was a key part of the story as well. That would be my 92-year-old mother.
Up until the Wuhan Wahoo hit, Mom was in her own apartment in the Independent Living area of an assisted-living community. Very early this year, we had been seeing signs that she was slipping a bit physically and mentally and arranged to have an aide come in part of each day to help her with whatever was needed.
Then the perfect storm hit. Covid reared its ugly head. So, no visitors were allowed in the facility. Then, in early April, Mom had to go to the hospital after collapsing in her apartment while trying to walk from living room to bathroom. Fortunately, the aide was there and decided it was best to take her to the hospital. Nothing was broken, but it turns out she had developed blood clots in her legs.
She was treated in just a few days but had to be quarantined, which she did at the rehab area of her living facility. She was supposed to be there until her legs were in good working order, but there was slow progress. We were finally told that she wouldn’t be allowed to go back to her apartment without two full time aides.
The alternative was for her to go into the skilled nursing area which we all thought was the best idea. But there wasn’t a room for her there immediately. So, she ended up spending a great deal of time in rehab, which was a lot like being in limbo. Mom had a hard time processing all the changes, and most especially had difficulty understanding why no one could come visit her.
Long story short, she finally went to skilled nursing, but because of the virus, had to stay in her room most of the day. What community activities the staff normally provided there were severely curtailed. Mom’s physical and mental condition deteriorated.
Fast forward to early November. Somehow, some way, Mom tested positive for Covid, and it caused bi-lateral pneumonia. She was put in a separate area, and, when things looked grave, her doctor suggested the family be called in. My three sisters and I hustled to Ohio and got to spend a few days with her actually in her room, covered in full PPE. We all left thinking that would probably be the last time we saw her.
Well, Mom is 95 pounds of stubbornness. She beat Covid. Part of her recovery may have been this incentive: my son and daughter-in-law and their 10-month-old son are moving from California to Georgia, and they planned their cross-country trip to include a stop in Ohio so that Mom could meet her great-grandson.
Monday, it happened. Since now the only way to visit with Mom is through her window, John, Alex, his wife, and Jack all gazed through the glass as Mom looked out and waved. They were able to communicate by phone, and Mom was all smiles. She and Jack blew each other kisses when it was time to leave. Oh, one thing you should know. Jack Lewis was my Dad’s name too. So, the circle of life for Mom is pretty complete.
We don’t know how much longer she’ll be with us. And we’re all at peace. She’s had a wonderful life. But we all know this is a Christmas we’ll never forget. Miracles will do that for you.
©MMXX William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer