Last night I had dinner with Paddy, an old friend, and one of the most beautiful quilters I have had the privilege to know. Paddy has battled life-threatening cancer, and for years she has routinely taken chemotherapy drugs. When I had a cancer diagnosis 6 years ago, it was Paddy who told me to just follow the doctor's orders, and then get on with my life: write more books and stitch more quilts. She said that no one can tell you how much time you have on this earth. When she was diagnosed with her first cancer she was told she could expect to live 5-6 more years. That was 20+ years ago. Paddy has always been my model for someone who appreciates her life every day.
This week Paddy's great-granddaughter celebrated her first birthday, and is miraculously on her way to having a normal life. When she was born a year ago she was suffering from many neurological problems, and nearly constant seizures. Today she is a happy, high-spirited--healthy--little girl. And we reminisced about the Thanksgiving eleven years ago when we raced from Silver City to Salt Lake City to see our newest grandchild, Gabriel, who was born with a heart defect and had been air-lifted to Primary Children's Hospital.
Gabriel's surgery was scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving, and the pediatric surgeon later told us that he spent hours of that Thanksgiving Day watching and rewinding the video of the angiogram, trying to figure out what was wrong with Gabe's heart. All of the arteries were in the wrong places, and one artery was inside of another one. This amazing surgeon came up with a plan to rebuild all of the arteries and reconnect them in the right places. This was a surgery that had likely never been done before, but thanks to the miraculous and life-saving skills of the surgeon, Gabriel is a healthy boy today who collects Star Wars toys and plays soccer. His eleventh birthday was just this week.
Since my visit with Paddy last night, I have been reflecting on all of the miracles in my life, of the many reasons I have to be grateful this Thanksgiving week. I am a cancer survivor; four years ago this fall, my son John Henry survived emergency open-heart surgery at the age of 26, and this week I spent time rocking his two-month-old son, my newest grandson, Cinco. Life gives us many reasons to give thanks, sometimes it takes a good friend like Paddy to remind us to be grateful every day, to be aware of the everyday miracles. Now excuse me, I have another book to write, and many quilts to finish.