Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas, Nanny

UPDATE: Nan survived the surgery and is now recovering in the ICU. Thank you, God.

My grandmother is getting a unique gift today. She is either getting a new heart valve or a ticket to eternity.

My father's mother has always been possessed of a prodigious energy. My dad used to call her "the tornado." She could cook a turkey dinner while bathing a baby and cleaning an entire house, pausing only to chase the older kids out of the kitchen with the broom for causing trouble.

Then she slowed down. At first they thought it was severe asthma. She carried a nebulizer machine everywhere. The doctors finally found the real problem: a leaky heart valve.

She had the valve replaced with a pig's valve 12 years ago. It was experimental, but it worked. Nan said she hadn't felt that well in many, many years. The tornado was back in business.

She been slowing down again lately. In early December, a pain in her neck sent her back to the hospital. At first they thought it was a heart infection. After several weeks of IV antibiotics, she started having arrhythmias.

It wasn't an infection. Her valve was entirely failing.

She is in Halifax today. At this moment, her chest is open and doctors are replacing the valve. Either that or she has died on the table.

Nan was at complete peace with either outcome yesterday. She told my mother she would rather die quickly then die by inches for months. Then again, she would be very happy if the surgery succeeded.

Please pray for my grandmother today. Merry Christmas, Nanny. I love you.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Adventures in minimum wage

I've got applications into several good jobs in my field right now. I'm hoping for the best once Christmas is over, but I'm finally planning for the worst.

I started working at a jeans store in the mall last night.

The humiliation of all this has been hard to admit, because it shows how terribly prideful I am. The worst part was dropping off resumes last weekend. Walking throughout the mall, binder in hand and makeup on face, trying not to feel like a washed-up has-been.

My training shift was last night. The work is mentally easy. My co-workers are pleasant. The boss is nice, professional and efficient. I wear jeans all the time, so an employee discount sounds wonderful.

I feel like I should have been wearing a scarlet L, for "loser." Thirty years old, three children, a very succesful journalism career in the North.... selling jeans for minimum wage. Ugh.

I fought back tears the whole drive home after the shift. I thought about all the hours my mother worked in a mall so I wouldn't have to. The straight A's. The scholarship. The magna cum laude degree.

And then a little thought occurred to me, whispered by some good angel: "How much money did you make tonight?"

I did the math and subtracted the taxes. I made enough to buy one Christmas gift for one of the children. That was money we did not have before I went in to fold jeans and hang sweaters.

I earned one of my baby's Christmas gifts.

Suddenly, minimum wage doesn't seem so bad.