Saturday, March 28, 2009

Snapshots

When the boys were very little, Eric bought me some beautiful coffee mugs from a local Amish shop. Handmade, white with sponged blue borders and a single pink heart, and a pitcher to match. We used these cups every day for years. Last week, when Riley was home for spring break, I made a pot of coffee, and poured us each a cup - into the heart mugs. When I handed the cup to Riley, his face lit up. Apparently, it was the first time he'd ever used one of these special cups, and me offering it to him made him feel honored and grown up. It's the small things, sometimes that we are not even aware of, that send big messages.

We are hosting a potluck for the running club tonight. I promised Eric chocolate chip cookies. I pulled down my little recipe notebook, falling apart at the binding, and slipped on my glasses. There on the first page, in my curlicue adolescent handwriting, was my name, and the notation "BD gift Jan. 2, 1973". I slowly paged through, seeing each handwritten recipe, the note "from Mom" across the top of most. All my favorites. I was 15 years old that day, and I remember digging out Mom's recipe cards and copying them all down. I don't know if my Mom knew it, but I interpreted her gift to me as a sign that she thought I was growing up. Today, I find it poignant to think of all the times I've cooked or baked those recipes, how many times I've served them to my sons and husband, how many times the boys baked following those same recipes. Smudged and smeared, the pages represent thirty-six years of life gone by. It's the small things, sometimes that we are not even aware of, that send big messages.

Yesterday, I went in for my biennial echo cardiogram. There is a very slight increase in leakage in my aortic valve. No change in meds, no change in activity. All the usual warnings - watch for infections, particularly strep. Call if you have a sore throat that lasts more than three days. Call in you notice a change in your endurance or stamina. It was 10 years ago when they first found the murmur that lead to the discovery of the defective valve. Those first years, every echo showed a steady progression in leakage. I was told that if it continued at that rate, I could expect a valve replacement at 52. Then, five years ago, it stabilized. And two years ago, I got to start going every other year instead of every year. So yesterday, I will have to admit, I was a little bit bummed to hear there was a slight increase. At the same time, the cardiologist was so encouraging - it's very slight, I can continue to run as much as I want. By the time I was driving home, I was over it. I reminded myself that it's to be expected, and that I'm 51 now and that I'm running mass miles instead of having valve replacement surgery. Life is good, very good. And on a funny note, you should have seen the cardiologist's face during this conversation:

"There is a very slight increase in leakage. Have you noticed any change in your stamina or endurance?"

"Well, I was pretty tired after running 62 miles last weekend."

Blank stare. "In one day?"

"In 19.5 hours."

"Oh."

He broke out in a huge grin, and with all the appropriate cautions told me to keep at it. It's the small things, sometimes that we are not even aware of, that send big messages.

And today I find myself smiling quietly as I think back. Scenes from a childhood on a tiny farm in a bustling family flit past as I look over the recipes. My son's face flashes before me as I put the coffee cups away. Races and runs swirl through my mind as I bake. I look around my warm and happy home, I look over at my sweet husband, I read an email from Web, I anticipate an evening with friends. It is the small things, the quick moments, that add together to make a life. I am forever grateful for each moment of mine.

19 comments:

Makita said...

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I strive to be where you are now. :D

Journey to a Centum said...

I'm guessing there's more than a few cardiologists who could stand to get some running in to improve their health. You should tell him about your first cardiologist who died from a heart attack. Is that ironic or what?

Annette said...

I'm cracking up about you being "pretty tired after 62 miles." Ha - that must've thrown him for a loop! :) You have done amazing things. What a gift you've been given.

craig said...

I smell cookies baking. Good stuff Michelle. I really enjoyed this one.

Juls said...

Thanks for sharing. It the little things like this post that remind me of why my blogger friends are some of my best friends ever.

Ruthie said...

thanks for your blog and your running inspiration!:)
blessings
ruthie
www.mybodmod.blogspot.com

Thomas said...

I'm pretty sure the cardiologist had never done a cardiogram on someone who had just finished a 100k! He won't forget that in a hurry.

Anne said...

It is indeed the small things that are considered our biggest accomplishments in aggregate. Thanks for the nice reminder not to take them for granted. And how cool is it we both have handwritten recipe books that we still use!

Irene said...

I love conversations with the docs that go like that! I'm sure he'll remember that for a long time!

I love the stories about the recipe book and the cup. Those brought back similar memories for me.

justrun said...

This is why you're one of my running mentors, and my blog mom. :)

Wes said...

Yes. each moment. You never know when down the road, they will be cherished...

robtherunner said...

Good stuff, Michelle! I'm talking about the reflections on the small stuff, but the cookies were pretty good too.

scott keeps running said...

I wish I could have seen the face of the cardiologist. :)

Steve S said...

You have a strong heart, physically and spiritually.

Slowrunner60 said...

Hey Michelle, nice reflections. It is good to always remember the little things. They are what make the big things bearable.

Have a great day!!!

Mama said...

You are a dear friend and a hero. Keep doing what you do.

Joe said...

Famtastic post, Michelle, thanks for your openness!!

Wow, were you quick in the comeback to the cardiologist about "yeah, a little tired after 62 miles"!!!! What a hoot! Can you imagine him going home and telling the wife "you wouldn't believe what this lady told me today...."

Thanks for being you!!!

Dori said...

Hey, running 62 miles definitely gives you bragging rights! That cracks me up about your conversation with the heart doc. Sorry about the increased leakage, but you have a stronger heart than most people who don't have a leaking valve.

I saw Darrell last week. Remember him from Big Sur? We had a nice time and talked about you.

E-Speed said...

awwe this was such a sweet post it left me teary eyed.