My grandma. Grandmothers are often associated with apple pie, knitting and bingo, but mine was so much more. Netsy was a confidant and close friend. We shopped together, got manicures together, gambled together and even took a cruise around the French Polynesian Islands together. Netsy died of pancreatic cancer while in Hospice care in the home I grew up in. My grandmother’s life not only shaped me, but her death did, too. It lead me to the man I eventually married.
My hubby. I met Jason on the Hospice floor at Cabrini Medical Center in New York City, only neither of us was dying. We were both volunteers keeping company with the terminally ill. While in graduate school in 2003, I would visit with patients at the hospital while Jason did home visits with an elderly woman on the Upper East Side. When Jason took some time off to ride his bike across Europe, I was called in as his replacement. The patient, Eleanor, who had cancer and Alzheimer’s, had five passions: animals, politics, dancing, whiskey and Jason. She would regale me with stories of her preferred volunteer… some days he was old enough to be my grandfather, other days she swore I would leave my then-boyfriend if I ever met him. His were big shoes to fill, but Jason eventually returned back to New York and much to my relief, resumed his visits with Eleanor. Early the following year, on the night when Eleanor was moved out of her home and to Cabrini Hospice, I met Jason for the very first time. He was not an old man, but it was easy to see in Eleanor’s state how she wished he was. With deep-socket blue eyes and a unique nose, I thought he was beautiful. But more beautiful than that was his devotion to this dying woman of which he was not even related. Over time Eleanor’s prediction proved right: I would leave my boyfriend at the time and take up with Jason.
My dog. In the spring of 2008 I decided it was time for a dog. I discussed it with Jason, who was my fiance at the time, and although he wasn’t entirely on board we did agree on a few things: it would be a foster dog with the option to adopt, it would be a girl, she wouldn’t be a froo-froo dog and she must be a rescue or at least come from a shelter. A friend from the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals told me about a Pit Bull they recently rescued from the pound who had surgery because of two broken front legs. She was expected to make a full recovery and lead a healthy and normal life. When we went to meet her at a vet’s office she hobbled towards us bust mostly just clung to her caretaker, a vet tech, like a monkey would cling to a tree. Jason fell in love. Soon after, we brought her home and named her Ella. After only one week in her new home, we learned that the surgery on Ella’s legs had failed. We had a decision to make: humane euthanasia or more surgery. The latter would require a great deal of post-op care. We were convinced Ella wanted to live, so we willingly signed up for the care-taking. Little did we know that we had set out on a long and arduous road. Several more surgeries, weekly bandage changes and hydrotherapy sessions over the course of 15 months and Ella was finally given a clean bill of health. Her resolve to live is the reason we were able to see this painstaking ordeal through. She didn’t just turn us into Pit Bull lovers, but advocates for the breed as well. She taught us patience, kindness and love, and became an integral part of our family. You can follow Ella’s journey on her own blog, here.
My first-born. Two years and one week to the day that Jason and I got married, our son Mylo was born. There are no words to describe this life-changing person, and yet I am filled with so many words.
Mylo’s granna (my mom) recently asked me “Oh Reedu, how did you do this,” while gazing at her grandson with great affection and admiration. I joked, “with a bottle of Malbec.” But it wasn’t just the gorgeous bottle of red that helped me invent Mylo. My whole life is summed up in him.