Life, it has been said, is a series of dress rehearsals. If you keep working on it, one day you will be ready for the real show.
Parenting seems to fit this bill in every possible way. First, the banner is raised, announcing two happy people are about to become parents. My grandmother whispered to me in a dramatic ‘aside’ kind of way, “That’s the first mistake. In my day, you kept things to yourself!”
We welcome babies in to this world and from the very beginning, we share our little bundle of joy with the world. That, I have always felt, is a very big part of that joy. It grows in the sharing.
Over my many years of penning this column, I have shared my children with you, my Farm and Dairy family. One very kind woman suggested it would be nice to know what my children are up to these days, as she had shared the concern of many as they struggled and persevered through some mighty significant health challenges along life’s path.
As I write this, it is Father’s Day, very early morning. Not a creature is stirring but me and my dogs.
Caroline, soon to be a bridesmaid in a dear friend’s summer wedding, was to have spent the entire weekend with the bridal party on Lake Erie’s Put-In-Bay. A few weeks ago, when she realized this would be Father’s Day weekend, she told her friends she would be taking the last ferry out on Saturday night. She had a brunch to prepare for her dad, as already planned, and she is a girl who keeps her promises. She will be arriving soon from her little apartment in town.
From day one, Caroline, now 25, was a sweet girl. Soft-spoken, beautiful inside and out, she puts others before herself. Her chosen profession offers validation to that: she worked incredibly hard to complete studies and obtain her state certification as a massage therapist, and no matter how busy she is, she finds time to help those in pain if she believes she can. She also works full-time in a busy dental office, and has dated a nice fellow for about a year now who seems to make her glow with happiness. She maintains life-long friendships with many who look to her as their event planner.
When her big brother was so sick, after she had battled her own serious health issues, I realized that Caroline was learning right along with me the need to pursue the cleanest, purest lifestyle. As a result, we all are likely much healthier than we otherwise would have been without learning all of this the hard way. We eat as pure as we can, we try to obtain our vitamins and minerals in good foods, we drink plenty of water.
Cort, now 27, just celebrated his first wedding anniversary with a belated honeymoon trip to Jamaica. After having graduated from DeVry University and landing a job locally for several years, he now works an incredibly demanding job as computer lab coordinator at Kent State University while continuing his education a class or two at a time. Always an eager student, he is proud that he carries a perfect 4-point. A new homeowner, he and wife Karen are busy with projects in their ranch-style brick home in a nice Canton community about an hour east of us, solidly built in the years after World War II. They are only the second owners of this well-loved home.
Under the care of a prominent immunologist, Cort administers his own weekly treatments of immunoglobulins which requires six needles inserted in his abdomen as the treatment flows over the course of an hour or two. He will require this, every week, for the rest of his life, and he is grateful to have it. The treatments bolster his weakened immune system, giving him the strength to fight off every bug that comes along, and to pursue a second income through photography and computer troubleshooting for friends and family. He also eats a wholesomely rigid diet because he simply knows it is worth doing for his overall health. He is upbeat, optimistic, friendly to all. He was a happy child who didn’t know a stranger, and he remains so.
Cort’s long journey to wellness taught us way more than we ever wanted to know about Lyme Disease and the need for more research in to this terribly challenging illness. After a known tick bite when he was 11 years old, we couldn’t find a doctor who would consider Lyme because his tests came back negative, in spite of the fact his health was spiraling downward in the months after the engorged tick was removed. After he became bedfast and so confused he didn’t even know his own family, we flew to New Jersey and received diagnosis and treatment.
It was just the start of a very long battle. Through his struggles, though, we have helped many others. And we learned that a weakened immune system often causes negative test results in allergy testing as well as Lyme.
My dad once said that nearly everything in life comes with instructions, but raising children is a learn-on-the-fly endeavor. There is no statement more true than this. We were blessed with two really great children who taught us well as we kept swinging at the pitches.
My only regret is that it went by in the blink of an eye.
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