Saturday, 27 February 2016

The Road Not Chosen

On Ground Hog Day, a friend posted that the palm tree had seen its shadow: thus, there would be 6 more weeks of Florida. Ha ha.

 On Vancouver Island, the ground hog saw rain and said there would be 6 more weeks of grey skies and clouds – or that’s what it feels like, right about now.

If I had my druthers, I too would be sitting under a palm somewhere, enjoying balmy breezes and pina coladas.

Druthers: great word! My good friend Google tells me druthers is a shortening of 'would rathers'. It was first used in the late 1800s and written as “‘drathers.”  Later, ‘drathers became ‘druthers, and was popularized in the cartoon strip L’il Abner, who was fond of saying, “Ef Ah had mah druthers, Ah'd druther...”. (I could write a whole blog on L’il Abner ... maybe another time.)


Some people, at this time of year, strap themselves into an airline seat, order their glass of bubbly, and wing off to someplace warm and fun. The resident sweetie and I strapped ourselves into the seats of our little Yaris and zoomed  our way south, too (Toyotas do not zoom-zoom, for that you need a Mazda)...all the way to Victoria, 3 long and rainy hours and 38 stoplights down island. If I had my druthers, I’d opt for the flight to Hawaii. Some people book themselves into a fancy hotel with room service and a balcony that offers a view of the ocean waves and gorgeous sunsets. We booked into a little apartment decorated in 80's style, and a view of the neighbour’s cluttered backyard. If I had my druthers...well, you know!

Now of course, some peoples’ whines are other peoples desires. A lot of people consider a holiday on Vancouver Island – Canada’s banana belt – a wonderful choice in January and February. And some people don’t want to skip winter – that’s ski season. But the resident sweetie and I, if we had our druthers (as well as the shekels to pay for it) would be seeking out a warm sunny clime for few weeks right about now. We may be living in the banana belt, but you need a lot of rain to grow bananas.

Instead of that kind of vacation, however, on a rainy Sunday a few weeks ago, we walked through the doors of the Royal Jubilee Hospital and went through a rigorous day of pre-operation orientation.

The next morning at 5:30 a.m. (5:30?!@*) we walked through the doors again, and Al underwent all the indignities that go with surgery – hospital gowns that hide little of your naked self, full body shave, and waiting, waiting, waiting. Then off he went to the OR.  Separate vacations may be the norm, but if I had my druthers, I would have gone with him.

It was quite a week: quadruple by-pass surgery, intensive care where round-the clock-nurses watched what was happening to all the tubes and monitors that were going in and out of him, and then recovery in a room that overlooked the hospital parkade. Long story short, though: he did amazingly well. In fact, the nurses called him the poster boy for what recovery from by-pass can be. Five days after surgery, he was shedding the hospital jammies and wearing his street clothes as we transitioned to the apartment, and one week to the day after the surgery, we were on our way home.

As the week went by, there were many times when I thought about those druthers. Every choice we make means that something else can’t happen. Of course, if we had our druthers, we'd rather not have any trouble or pain in our lives. But that's just not possible. So then we get to travel an unexpected pathway. Al and I took a detour on the road that leads to the palm trees and sunny beaches and ended up in a place we wouldn't have chosen. But the experiences we had on that unexpected road made me rethink my druthers.

Instead of tropical paradise, we found crocuses in the rain.

Instead of waiters carrying trays of drinks, we were surrounded by many, many people who wished us well and prayed for us and wanted us to be sure to let them know what happened. They were cheering for and with us, and we were amazed and humbled and grateful and sometimes in tears. Instead of car rental agencies and tour guides, there were the skilled hands of the surgeon and a team of doctors and nurses carefully repairing what needed fixing.

There was more. The magic of cell phones, computers, e-mail and facebook meant that we could talk to each other even when we were apart. My daughter stayed strong and held my hand when I got anxious and antsy. Our one-year old grandaughter sent Opa a “letter” (with the help of her mom, of course) which brought a smile to his dear face. The landlady who rented us the apartment was flexible and kind. I learned again that we are not alone – that we can lean on our Creator, on our family, and on an intricate and interwoven net of relationships, and we will be held. Those are truly blessings, aren’t they?

So in the end, I discovered, that I’m actually living my druthers, the life that I’ve been given, and that I wouldn’t ruther trade it for anything.


  1. Jessie,

    Thank you! You made me cry, with gratitude that Al's and your recent journey has been life giving, and for bringing me back to life. I have been struggling with an overload of work, church and personal concerns and you have brought me back to the place where I know I can find my way. I usually can see the blessings around me but lately it's been a bit tough. Your writing is always a gift to me, and today it was wrapped in joy.

  2. This is so beautifully written, Jessie. Thank you. We were away when it came out so I missed it but am very grateful to read it this morning. Thank you for putting 'it' all into perspective.