The great room looked like a crime scene. Only the yellow tape was missing. Couch pillows were tossed haphazard near the footstool. A paperback was in mid-flutter on the floor. Her glasses could get stepped on any minute.
The kitchen looked worse. It was a scene laced with ominous undertones -- a hammer wrapped in a dishtowel was on the counter. Although it looked bad, it was the hammer that signaled everything was actually OK.
During the night, the Mystery Woman had slipped out of bed and come downstairs to wrestle with atrial fibrillation, a heart problem that can be very painful. She uses the hammer to crack ice needed to deaden her jaw pain. She’s on new meds and this is the shake-down period while the docs try to get the dosage balanced.
It’s tough to watch. So, unless the pain is too severe, she simply doesn’t waken me. Meanwhile, her heart is racing like she was running a marathon. A-fib is serious because it can set off strokes and/or heart attacks. But, the doctors say, it is usually not life-threatening. Their words ring a little hollow.
But each day the Mystery Woman shakes off the rigors of the long night, sits down at her computer and begins rewrites on the children’s novel she is writing. It will mark the fifth book she has written. Keeps her young. She giggles as she writes.
Downstairs, in separate living quarters, her tiny little mother is quietly living with pancreatic cancer. Every day, she is up. Alert. Forever curious. Finding fun. Cracking wise. She is in her 90th year.
Neither woman complains much. Nor asks for special treatment. They are tough, self-reliant women who need only to be reminded sometimes that they are loved. They don’t seem to know how much they are adored.
Each gives new life to the quote from Alice Longworth Roosevelt, who said, “First you’re young, then you’re middle-aged, then you’re wonderful.”