In September 2020, Mother was hospitalized and diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. In the months since, it has been quite a journey of many trips back and forth to UAMS in Little Rock, drain installed in her chest cavity, another procedure for a chemo port, labs, more labs, what seems like 100 Covid tests and many hotel stays. During these many hotel stays, Mother and I spent nights together; something we have not done in years. We made it like slumber parties; we stayed up talking about her childhood, reminiscing and giggling about silly things. Prior to this diagnosis, Mother did not even take Tylenol or Ibuprofen. She now was forced to adjust to a new routine of many pills; several for sleeping and pain which she calls her “Santa Claus” pills. She laughs and says, it’s time for my “Santa Claus” pills. Never ever does Mother complain. Some days are better than others, but she smiles through it, no matter how he feels. Even on the worst days, no one would ever know what she really going through.
In January, Covid attacked almost our entire family. We were all confined to our homes for weeks and “cabin fever” was an understatement. When I was finally well enough to see Mother, it had been almost a month. I noticed she was quiet, had lost a considerable amount of weight and felt she really needed to get out of the house or a change of scenery. My sister and I discussed off and on a large farm house they have that is not being used. It is close enough that I could be back in town within twenty minutes if needed. I asked Mother if she would like to go the following weekend (February 5th) and I could hear her eyes and voice light up through the phone.
The plan was to spend one night. That Friday after work, I rushed home, packed a small overnight bag, gathered a few food incidentals in another bag and headed to Mother’s house. She had so many things packed when I arrived, I was not quite sure how we would fit it all in my little Mercedes. We crammed it all in the trunk, back seat and she could not get in the car fast enough!! Daddy walked her to the car and was kind of blocking her way in. He has become quite protective in recent months. She said, “you’re in my way”. I just giggled and she got in ready to go and quickly shut the door. Her eyes were big, bright and her smile was as big as I have seen in a long time. She said, “let’s stop at Ed Walker’s and get a French Dip sandwich”. Wow, she has not eaten much other than soup lately, so off we went to Ed Walker’s drive in. I called on the drive there to place an order, so it would be ready when we arrived. We pulled in and she began reminiscing about the days when she was single and would come to Ed Walker’s with her girlfriends. She glanced up at the outdoor menus and noticed the onion rings. Of course, I called again and added to our order. If she has an appetite and is excited about eating something, of course, we will order whatever she wants. We received our food and honestly, barely had room to put in in the backseat on top of all of her bags. I just laughed to myself thinking, “this is going to be an adventure”. If you have ever traveled anywhere with Mother, you would know she brings a ton of little bags filled with a plethora of random things; of which, all could potentially have a use.
Finally on our way, I have a country address typed into the GPS that looks like a longitude and lattitude of a place unknown. We arrive a short drive later and Mother was like a little girl on an adventure. First, we opened the front door and ventured all over the large home that looks like a perfectly intact time capsule from the 1980’s. Everything in perfect condition, just as the former owner, Patsy left it. All the time and care that went into choosing each window of curtains along withe the wallpaper that matches in every room. The views from most every room are phenomenal. From the living rooms, dining and kitchen are two story views of the pond where ten adorable ducks live and happily swim all over throughout the day. Black angus cattle are grazing in the pasture and the stillness of nature can be felt throughout the home. Even though Patsy has been gone from the home for five years now, there are still remnents of her everywhere, in each corner, the custom designs and the few pieces of furniture left behind that tell a story of a wonderful piece of time captured. As Mother explored through the house, she kept saying, “whoever lived here was happy; this is a happy house”.
I unloaded the car, we put on warm cozy pajamas and ate our Ed Walker’s dinner while looking at the gorgeous scenery. We stayed up late talking and so excited about our girl’s night away; she felt like she escaped reality, if only for a night. Mother danced around the living room and the kitchen saying over and over, “this is our new honey hole hideaway”. We both slept so good that night; it is so quiet and peaceful here! The next day, we drank coffee and watched the duck swimming most of the morning. Mother looked up and asked if we could stay another night. Of course!! We stayed in our pajamas all day, read, watched nature and Mother even asked for a cheeseburger, which I retrieved and she ate! When Sunday afternoon came, I could tell, she did not want to leave. She stood in front of the big window overlooking the pond and pasture. She put her hands together and prayed quietly, I could hear here saying, “Please Lord send snow. I want to see snow”.
On the way home, she asked if we could come again the following weekend. I told her, “of course we can!”. We both knew that “The Patsy House” will be our honey hole hide away and we will make many lovely memories here! We will forever be grateful for Sondi and George for adding this treasured time to our story and memories.