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Better days ahead

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck

 

It’s been a tough year at Ten Broeck Manor, the little one acre strip of land where our comfy, lived-in home is located.

Tom and I have said on more than one occasion that we’ll be happy to see the door close on 2013 and we will gladly jump through the window into 2014.

The year started with my own health issues–a kidney stone that went undiagnosed for nearly two months and caused excruciating, unbelievable pain. 

After its removal, I rebounded quickly and without any further woes but it seems as if that one aggravating mineral deposit set the tone for what was to come.

Without becoming too personal or graphic, I will tell you my healthy, adventure-loving husband, who just turned 50, went in for the preventative colonoscopy.

He shouldn’t have.

After two aborted tries (over a three-month span) because of a twisted colon, he emerged in tremendous pain and unable to eat.

It went on for months and countless visits to doctors, chiropractors and health care technicians dotted our calendars.

He switched doctors who asked immediately why he was having a colonoscopy.

“Because you people [physicians] said to,” was his answer.

This doctor, not wanting to chance a perforated bowel, did other tests, deemed him cancer/polyp free and said they’d try again later.

Tom’s brother, Bruce, diagnosed almost two years ago with cancer was in remission as the year started but in early spring, we learned it had returned and with a vengeance.

The entire Ten Broeck clan traveled to Albuquerque, N.M. July 4 to visit with him while he was still cognizant. It is a trip none of us will ever regret.

While there, our brother-in-law, who was on his way to see Bruce, became gravely ill and was hospitalized. He was so ill he never made it to New Mexico.

We had no sooner returned to Florida when the word came that my beloved Uncle Edgil had died after a five-year battle with a rare form of leukemia.

I drove, with my youngest son Spencer, to Kentucky for the funeral.

Two months later my husband was still in therapy for his back and each day he seemed to be a little worse.

And then his mother became ill and Bruce died–all in the same week. The family was torn as to what to do. They agreed Tom should represent the family at the funeral while the rest of his siblings went to Georgia to try to care for their mother. I manned the fort here.

After Tom returned we turned around and headed to visit his mom, who had spent almost three weeks in the hospital.

She was home–frail, defeated, heart-broken.

A week later she died and we were again in the North Georgia mountains to say goodbye to yet another loved one.

Three deaths in nine weeks, our brother-in-law’s serious health issues, Tom’s back–it was almost overwhelming.

And in the midst of that we had to contend with jobs, budgets, children, the health and death of friends and our ever-fragile emotions. 

Oh, and did I mention a wedding?

Now there were bright spots in the year: Tom took me to romantic and cold Charleston, S.C. for my birthday; Spencer got engaged, graduated college and got married; we went to Jamaica with him and his now-bride; I flew to Ohio for an all-girl cousins reunion; my daughter, Allison got engaged (oh goodness–another wedding!); we had a wonderful relaxing vacation in Curaçao; we spent Thanksgiving with Tom’s sister in sunny Ft. Myers; Christmas was quiet and relaxing and we both welcomed new grand-nieces into the world in October and November.

While the bad things seemed to overshadow all that was good, I know that there was good in 2013 and constantly had to remind myself that even with all the sadness and despair, it could be worse.

All-in-all it’s a good life we have and make no mistake,  we’re grateful.

However, we’re more than ready to turn the calendar over to another year.

And through the tough times, the sad times, the times when we were short with one another and emotionally drained, we heldfast to each  other and reaffirmed how precious each and every day is.

In 2014, my resolve–and I’m sure my husband shares this–is to live more and love deeper. 

Every day is a clean slate to start being the person you were meant to be. Don’t wait until tomorrow to live.

Now is your time to shine.