Though it had been 15 years since I'd spent Christmas with my family, some traditions must never die.
Like sneaking behind Mom's back to change the "NOEL" letters!
It was discouraging when my family wasn't able to celebrate Thanksgiving together (also for the 1st time in 15 years!) due to my dad's struggles with health and inability to travel since his lung transplant. I'm so thankful we were able to be together for Christmas.
There's a little story behind the "66+ 1" t-shirt he's wearing in the picture above. I had it made for him after reading this beautiful post he wrote on the first anniversary of his transplant:
The anniversary of my transplant is within 6 days of my birthday. My doctors tell me without the transplant I would have certainly died in 2014. So, I've decided to acknowledge that fact every year and celebrate my 66+1 year of life. Next year it will be 66+2 and so on.
It's difficult to express the impact of a transplant. Physically, it's like going through a controlled train wreck. The body is cut and eviscerated to within minutes of potential death. The multiplied dozens of medications required to keep you alive re-order your life's priorities and change your temperament. Mentally, you struggle to remember as medications wipe out your short term memory.
But eventually with a great team of doctors and nurses, you come almost back to a life you can recognize. That first year was touch-and-go with infection and rejection issues, physical therapy, and weekly trips to the hospital. It's as if that one year counts more than the previous 66 based on struggle and moments of breakthrough.
It feels almost like a new "me." I lost 80 pounds. I had to buy all new clothes. I had to learn to walk again, just as I did as a child. I had to learn to accept help and to be a lot more patient than my previous type A personality was comfortable with. I had to learn to drop the "I shoulds" and "I oughts," such as, "I shouldn't have to get up five times in the night to go to the bathroom;" or, "I ought to be better than this by now." You learn it is what it is and to just let your body do what it must." That is, the mental must support the physical.
And then there's the spiritual change. For believers God becomes much more real. The prayers of others are felt. The visits you receive tell you where the church really is. The joys are inexplicably deeper and the pains able to be born without undue suffering. Honestly, I don't know how the agnostics and atheists can handle it. But God is gracious in his providence to all.
Birth was one transition; transplant another. That's why this year it's 66+1 by God's mercy and grace.
|our nephews, Trevor and Tyson|
And for over a year, my mom (aka "Mamie") had been eagerly waiting to GIVE her one.
So it couldn't have been better timing...
Meet Caroline's new doll, Caroline Abbott!
Uncle Adam got a cool massager for Christmas
and Jameson absolutely loved it.
My sister gave Dad an awesome cane that has a sword inside. Dad is looking a little sinister here...
|two beautiful Carolines|
And even better than the American Girl doll itself were the matching outfits for Caroline and Caroline.
The hot gifts in the family this year were stomp rockets! The cousins all had a BLAST (pun intended) jumping on them and firing them high into the blue Texas sky.
Where he may have lacked a little in altitude, Jameson made up for in effort! He loved the thing.
Pop played some of his original music for us. He and my mom are in the process of writing a musical chronicling the history of their small town. (they're brilliant and creative, if you couldn't guess...)
It was so great to see my Dad at the keyboard again.
And it was so great to celebrate 66+1.