There are little traditions we all have that make life a little more enjoyable. That’s part of the reason we celebrate birthdays and random holidays. Sometimes we make up holidays. You feel the need to celebrate? Have a few pals over? Let’s celebrate the hottest day of the decade with a cook out, some corn hole and cheap beer then make a mental note to repeat this next year. You rescued a puppy from the side of the road, spent a thousand bucks getting him all fixed up. Let’s celebrate his new birthday every year. Sure…eccentric a bit but it makes life a little more fun.
When I moved to DC my sister was pregnant with my niece; my nephew was 7. My niece was born in April and the kids, along with my dad and sister and myself went to a big pumpkin patch called Belvedere Plantation. There’s a million pumpkin patches. Some are just pumpkin patches. Others, like this, have all kinds of activities for the kids, hay rides to the pumpkin patch to choose your own pumpkin. Apple cider, Zip lines, pig races. My sister was only able to go those first two years. After that it was me, my dad and the kids.
I had a new co-worker with a son a year older than my niece and so we invited her family. And suddenly: a fantastic tradition. Some point in October we all pile in our vehicles and head down to the pumpkin patch. The last few years for me have been bad. They’ve added all kinds of neat things for the kids but largely I spend most of my time watching everyone walk off to do activities and me catching up to them.
The reality is it’s one day that the kids have a blast, get worn out. The adults have fun too…partly because it’s a joy watching the kids so excited. We spend way too much money on lunch, drinks, and pumpkins. The kids have to get cider in a little pumpkin cup. And the adults all get kettle corn. The day ends with a fun hayride, we pick pumpkins (although the last few years I stopped choosing one…meh…I won’t carve it anyway).
By the time we leave, everyone – adults and kids alike are exhausted. But it’s a great day and it’s something I look forward to immensely.
Last year was a bad pain day. It was such an incredibly bad pain day I spent half the time I was there sitting at a picnic table watching for everyone from afar. 3 of my friends families came. All in all, 7 adults and 8 kids. It was nearly chaotic but man…a great day. Perfect fall weather. The kids got along, the petting zoo entertained, the zip lines, the slides, the bike races, the corn maze and so much more.
And I sat.
And I watched.
I confided in my dad that I would likely need assistance getting into the hay ride and getting out of it. My mother suggested I take her scooter…but…it’s a bumpy, often muddy terrain not really suitable for an electric scooter. I snapped pics. Located kids. Served as a central point of alert by text. ‘face painting tent’; ‘pig races in 20, heading now’; ‘hayride in 15, kids on bouncy pillow’; ‘just spotted my dad with your baby’.
A necessary job and one that needed to be done. Standing was agony. Walking was worse. I was so late getting to one of the events we had to kick a couple kids off the seats (no biggie, my niece sat in my lap). The worst part was that I had taken precautions to make sure I was well dosed up with the appropriate meds. Light muscle relaxer for my hip flexors, my pain patch was new and I had my backup pain meds. By the end of the day the pain was so unbelievable it rocked my body. My body shook with pain. I was weak, I was sad, I spent the drive back to my parents house holding back tears while the kids and my dad slept (I was wide awake…it was almost like my body said ‘pain meds? Hahahahahahah let’s switch this pain stuff out with some baby aspirin instead’ that’s really what it felt like.
After getting them all home and I got into my own vehicle and drove home…I could barely function. I cried as soon as I left the driveway, and managed to eventually stop by the time I badged into my apartment complex.
So I say all this because I was thinking suddenly the other day…oh my God…it’s the end of September…it’s time to schedule Pumpkin Patch day! Without knowing when I’ll have surgery…which will render me on bedrest or in the hospital still. Or – and this may almost be even worse…going and basically doing even less walking than last year.
I don’t want to miss it. It’s one of the few family things that we do that I’ve done since I moved here. I don’t want to miss it. I love being there with my family and my friends and their awesome kids. It breaks my heart to think I’ll be unable to attend.
I’d put the whole thing out of my head since Sunday but today one of my friends brought it up in conversation with another of my friends. We need to choose a date. All of us have kids with assorted weekend activities…so coordination is key. On one hand I’ll just die a thousand deaths if I have to wait until the end of October for this surgery. On the other hand…I’ll be so depressed over something that really is relatively small in the grand scheme of things as my dad carries on the tradition without me.
My friends joked my dad would carry my spirit with him and I laughed. It just won’t be the same. Just like I probably won’t be able to take my niece for her annual Halloween pictures (one of my friends is a genius gifted costumer. She makes elaborate costumes for her son and my niece and we get their pictures together every year.) But the walk through the mall to the photography studio…
Life moves on. I know it does. I just feel like I’ve been cheated out of so much this year. It’s hard to feel ok about things when those little things that make life a little more fun are taken away from you.