Friday, September 18, 2009

A Very Happy Birthday Indeed

Yesterday (Sept. 17), was my father's birthday and so, in honor of this occasion, I flew out to Michigan for a few days of relaxation with the folks. The last two times I had visited, my Dad was still in the hospital, which is no substitute for him in his natural environment. This time, he was feeling good and at home, in between his last round of chemo and the upcoming chemo/transplant. Perfect time to catch up!

The timing of this trip was also fortuitous because I was the only house guest (a rarity these past few months). I believe the last time I enjoyed a weekend with my parents alone was when I was one and a half years old, before my brother was born. Let's just say the conversation this time around was a bit more stimulating.

My father's birthday celebration was exactly what the doctor ordered - low key and relaxing. We started off with breakfast at The French Laundry, a Raff family favorite, and ended with a long, delightful dinner at The Grange with family friends. In between meals, we were treated to picture perfect weather that rivaled Los Angeles and a fatherly fashion show of birthday gifts (Gil sports a new shirt in the photo above). All in all, a wonderful end to a topsy-turvy year.

The remainder of the trip has been filled with all the little things I love about being at home with my parents - walks with the dogs, book recommendations, matinee movies and, of course, extensive discussions on the current state of the health care debate. It has been a real treat for me to be at home with just my Mom and Dad and reconnect. These are the moments I cherish and will continue to remember long into the future.

Looking ahead, my Dad has a lot of appointments quickly filling his schedule. On Monday, my Dad's sister - Genie - returns as the "perfect bone marrow match" hero. Soon thereafter, my Dad will re-enter the hospital for another round of chemo, this time preparing his body to receive the stem cell transplant. Once he receives the transplant, my Dad and his physicians will be working hard at promoting engraftment and minimizing complications. Clearly, there are a lot of unknowns but we are supported by the strength of friends and family and, as always, we are hopeful and optimistic.

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