An elderly neighbor had some flooding in her basement and called the Malouf house looking for some help. Was Rebecca home? No. Was Sam home? No. Emily's help was offered, and the old lady questioned, "But isn't she frail and slight?"
I might have been a skinny little eleven-year-old girl, but I wasn't frail, nor was I slight. So I went and cleaned up the neighbor's basement. All by myself.
So the "frail and slight" comment became a family joke. Mostly with my father. Because it was so far from the truth.
I got married and lived in a camper trailer with no electricity. I wore Carhartts. I spent a semester in South Africa. I had a winter baby and took her hiking and canoeing as soon as the snow thawed. Steve heard the "frail and slight" story and thought it was equally amusing. So the joking continued.
But now, it's no joke. I am frail and slight. And I feel like my body is falling apart. Maybe I ruined my body during my younger years. . . or maybe this is just what happens when you are a grandma.
Last month, I was tough. I felt strong and healthy, stronger and healthier than I had been in years. I was going to the gym regularly, and my six-pack started to emerge. But then, everything went downhill. I finally had to go to the doctor.
And now that Adam has announced it to the neighborhood, I might as well share it with the rest of the world.
I have a hernia along my midline incision. And I need surgery. Except that I don't have medical insurance, so I have to wait until January. Which is frustrating. Surgery is never fun. And I already had my January scheduled out . . . and February, March, and April too.
In the meantime, I am wearing an abdominal binder, and Steve is doing most of the laundry. And most of the other work around the house too. I am being cautious. Cautious because it's painful. And cautious because I'm somewhat terrified of what is happening inside my body.
I have had to make some serious modifications to my lifestyle. I walk by things on the floor and don't bend over to pick them up. I hold kids by the hand instead of carrying them. And I am trying to maintain my sanity without going to the gym. (I've never been a hardcore runner, but when I can't release my anger and frustration on the treadmill. . . I cry. So I've been crying. A lot. Enough that we are starting to wonder if I am also going through menopause.)
But I have an admirable husband. He takes good care of me. He tells me that he doesn't mind taking care of me. And he reminds me of all of the good characteristics and attributes that he and the other members of his family developed from taking care of his Grandma Whitney, suggesting that similar blessings will come to our children for allowing them to help take care of me. Sometimes, when I am teary-eyed, in pain from the bulge in my abdomen and discouraged by the things I can't do, he pulls me close and whispers that everything is as it should be. And I suppose it usually is.