(Not?) seeing family

Since DH’s sister was expecting (and has since had) twins, DH’s mom has gotten an apartment in her town. Her plan is to spend most of each week there so she can help SIL out with the four kids, now so that SIL can drive to the hospital BIL’s town every other day to be with the babies and give them her breast milk, and in the future with the babies since SIL has very little maternity leave. and will have to go back to teach a limited number of special needs students in person in December.

DH’s mom is high risk for covid complications.  She has diabetes, she’s missing lymph nodes from metastasized breast cancer, manages with medication high cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. etc. etc.  Just a whole host of health problems.  DH’s dad is in pretty good shape (he’s a hunter with no major health scares in the past other than a bum knee and back problems), but they are both over 65.

Before the babies were born, MIL had said that we’d probably want to not visit at Christmas because it would be too high risk for the babies, but maybe we could do something after Christmas.

Since then, the babies have been born and MIL has noted that SIL’s family has been taking zero covid precautions.  They act as if there isn’t a pandemic going on (Update:  I don’t think this is entirely true because SIL sent pictures of nephew at a boy scouts meeting wearing a mask… though also she sent a picture in front of the elementary school first day with neither of the older kids in masks, so…).  And to be fair, they live in a small town with very few Covid cases, so this is probably rational.  Because of this MIL has said well, maybe we could all do Christmas together in SIL’s town.  But not at SIL’s house because it is too small.

DH countered that even though it’s pretty safe in SIL’s town, we’re still in a Redzone and he would feel terrible bringing Covid up from the South and infecting someone from the midwest.  The only way he could think to make it work would be to travel to BIL’s town and rent an Air BNB and then just quarantine there for a couple weeks before seeing his family and that didn’t sound great.

This weekend, BIL noted that they’d spent a lot of time this past week doing boyscout activities and their (legally blind) daughter was back in person school although their son is still doing virtual schooling.  Out of curiosity, I looked up their covid rates and… they’re pretty much the same as ours.  (They’re also in a town with a state university.)  On Sunday they drove over to MIL’s apartment and spent the day with her.  We would be no bigger risk to MIL than they are… possibly less so, assuming we manage to avoid picking up an infection while traveling to the midwest.

Drive between SIL’s town and MIL’s town:  4 hours
Drive between BIL’s town and MIL’s town: 3 hours
Drive between SIL’s town and BIL’s town:  1 hour
Drive between us and MIL’s town:  12 hours (flight + driving is generally 5-8 hours)
Drive between us and SIL’s town:  16 hours (5-7 hr flights + 3 hours driving)
Drive between us and BIL’s town:  15 hours (flights, 7-14 hours, very little driving)

I’m still concerned about toilet plumes.  There’s still, of course, risks to us.  It’s possible I shouldn’t be worried since DH is in good health (knock wood) and as far as we know kids aren’t that affected (though we still don’t know about long-term complications).  But if anything happened to DH I would be devastated.  I’m somewhat high risk with the PCOS, but not as much as MIL.

So I don’t know what to do.  I have no real need to see DH’s family (though also I don’t have any problem with it– they’re good people).  DH is very worried that he will inadvertently kill his mother.  Especially since when she’s gotten a regular cold or the flu over the holidays from the grandkids she’s gotten very sick from it.  I can’t think how to make the logistics work since it’s such a long drive, unless we stop in MIL’s town for the night, which adds 3-4 hours to the total drive.

How are you handling the holidays this year?

Little Kitty

I fell for her beautiful blue eyes on the no-kill shelter page.  We were going to finally move into an apartment that allowed pets and I started cat shopping early.  She was still there the day we got the apartment.  We went to the shelter before we even moved our furniture because I was so anxious to get you.

When we got there, you were in one of the rooms with the big adult cats.  You were so tiny and yellow.  You wouldn’t eat or groom yourself because you were so scared of all the other animals.  While we were there a volunteer got her to eat some soft food by giving her her own dish away from everyone else.  She was really still a kitten– not even a year old.  But she’d had three little boys (adopted out) already.  That meant she’d never get very big.  And she was a great mamacat taking good care of them.  She’d been found in a box near a dumpster.  (She liked boxes.  The smaller the better. We called her box kitty sometimes.)

We took her home with the friendly Big Kitty we also picked out that day.  She hid for a while in a built-in cupboard.  At lunch I gave her some chicken and she became my best friend in the entire world.  By morning she’d cleaned herself up and her previously yellowed fur was bright white and she was so energetic.

She didn’t really know how to cat.  She learned a lot from Big Kitty, even though Big Kitty never particularly wanted to be friends.  (They had a nose touching en passant relationship, but no more.)  In the night we would hear these terrifying screeching sounds– it was usually silent Little Kitty practicing meowing.  She also liked to play ball in the night.  She escaped from the apartment once and led us on a not at all merry chase around the neighborhood.  She was very good at jumping fences.  Enormous height for such a little kitty.  We eventually got her on a halter.

She didn’t really like to be carried (though she allowed me to carry her so long as she’d get a treat right after), and she wasn’t crazy about people coming up to pet her.  One doesn’t pet the Little Kitty, the Little Kitty pets you.  Headbonks were her favorite, and we would have a nighttime routine in which she would visit us before we fell asleep for headbonks and pettings.  When it got really cold she might consent to be a lap kitty or to curl up on the same bed or couch as another cat (not touching).

Back when we had big computer monitors, her favorite spot was on top of mine.  When we moved to flat screen, she had to move in front, which she didn’t like as much.

She was the sweetest and most trusting of kitties.  Once she got into our chimney and was so trusting as we gave her a bath.  She’d look up to us as if to say she didn’t understand what was going on, but she trusted us to make it better (and to provide treats after any indignity).

She moved with us to our new job and loved the patio.  She loved our backyard (we still had to keep her on a halter because she was so good at jumping even the tallest of fences).

When we had a surplus of backyard cats she mostly stayed aloof and out of the fray.  She seemed to miss Big Kitty when Big Kitty passed and never really got into a nose sniffing relationship with Nice Kitty, the remaining backyard cat.

As she got older she got indigestion and then more recently ear infections that would go away and then come right back after treatment ended.  Then one morning she couldn’t walk straight and the vet found a tumor in her ear canal.  We drove to the closest vet school and determined it was inoperable and would not be a candidate for chemotherapy.  Radiation could be done, but there was no evidence that radiation without surgery worked at all in cats, and at most it would slow the tumor’s growth, not stop it or shrink it and she would have to go to the vet regularly which she hated.  So we prepared for hospice.

Cancer is not a pretty way to go.  But little kitty was so resilient as every new disability affected her.  She learned how to walk straight and deliberately with each new hit to her sense of balance.  She submitted calmly to baths and ear cleaning with minimal complaint.  She chomped down her medicine in pill pockets until she couldn’t chew and swallow anymore and then sort-of allowed us to dose her with the fruit-flavored and heavily sugared liquid versions of the pain killers and steroids that she hated.  We’d think it would be time and then she would figure out that she could get water from the faucet, or she’d figure out a new way to get treats to her throat and that would buy another week or so.  She would curl up on the patio or knead DH’s chest and purr, despite it all.  But each time she got better it wouldn’t be as good as it was before and each worse was a new low.  And finally, as the vet predicted, she couldn’t eat anymore, not even baby food, and we couldn’t let her starve to death or force her to submit to a feeding tube and she suddenly stopped getting joy out of her favorite things and we had to let her go.  Which is heartbreaking.

Death is hard, whether it is sudden and unexpected or following a slow deterioration.

Little kitty has brought so much joy.  Fifteen years was just not long enough for our sweet little girl.

Little kitty in better days