2006: Not off to a great start

Preface: Earlier today, I had a post all written, linked up and ready to publish. It was a good one– wrought with good discussion and very topical. But when I hit the “Publish” button, as usual, the system timed out. Usually when this happens the post appears fine with no problems, but not today. I lost the whole damn thing. So all you Blogspot users out there who bemoan losing posts from time to time (I know what that’s like), it continues even after you leave Blogspot. Trust me. Watch for that post– reconstructed and re-written, to appear as my Wednesday contribution to “Discuss It!

When 2005 ended and 2006 began, I wished for myself and everyone else that the new year would bring joy and prosperity and happiness to all of us. As it turns out, only a couple weeks into the year, I’ve had a kidney stone and people all around me have fallen ill with a horrible flu.

But the worst was yet to come.

My mom called me at about 5:30 today while I was at work. “I have some news,” she said. I knew it couldn’t be good. “Arlene has died.”

My heart sunk.

Arlene is my dad’s first cousin– my second cousin. Her first daughter Kristyne was born on the exact same day as my sister. We were all close over the years, but in recent years, we had grown somewhat apart. Kristyne got married in 1999 and her sister, Karalyn, moved to Arizona. And then Arlene got sick. Arlene had Diabetes. Just like my dad.

Her love of life was music– she was an accomplished pianist and made a living playing various concerts, weddings and church services. She played for every family wedding or funeral, and always played beautifully. For my sister’s wedding, Arlene, my sister and I collaborated and created the musical program– she would play and I would sing. It was my first time singing with Arlene and we enjoyed working together very much. We chose Gounod’s Ave Maria at the processional because it was my Grandma’s favorite, and my sister and mother loved it, too. It was the first time many members of our family had heard me sing. I was so glad to have that time with her and to share in the celebration in that way.

Arlene loved making candies– intricate candies. She loved molds and chocolates. She loved decorating them and giving them her own special flair. She also loved crafts and often times would create clever gifts for various holidays and birthday celebrations. A gift from Arlene was a gift from her heart.

She was a constantly jolly person. Rotund and always smiling, her voice even smiled. Even when she was in pain, she always retained a sense of happiness.

Over the years she would lose weight and gain it back as diet after diet failed. When she developed Diabetes, she did her best to keep it at bay, but the years had not been kind to her. Last spring, she had surgery to amputate a part of her foot. With that surgery, her piano playing was abruptly ended. I didn’t get to talk to her very often, as she was often in the hospital, being cared for by her husband John and her family. We would get updates on her condition occasionally, but I never went to visit her or send her a card. My heart aches with regret over this. It absolutely aches.

Arlene was at least 15 years younger than my father. I can’t help but wonder how he has held up for so long. And seeing the track record as it is, I worry about myself. Diabetes is in my family. I am a prime candidate. I don’t want to end up like either of them. I simply cannot let it happen. I wish there were some way I could have prevented it from happening to both Arlene and my dad. But all I can do is support and love. I couldn’t — and didn’t — do much for Arlene, and I regret that. But I can do whatever I can for my dad. He’s suffering and I know it. And it breaks my heart.

I’m not sure when the funeral will be as of yet, but I will certainly be there. In the meantime, I have some changes to make to my own life. Some I’ve been planning on doing anyway, but they’re only a start. It’s time for a life overhaul. If I can do that much to honor Arlene, I will.