Friday, August 25, 2006

My Second Family

You often hear people talk about their second family... the Porters are my second family.

When I was a senior in high school I started working at a before and after school program in Carmel Valley. I worked there for almost 5 years. The Porters were one of the families there, with Lauren in 2nd Grade, Reed in Kindergarten, and Robert just a little one when I first met them. At some point, I think I was around 20 years old I was looking for a place to stay, an apartment or room for rent. I mentioned this to Nettie, the mom, who said that they had an extra room, and that I could stay there in exchange for occational babysitting. It was perfect. It wasn't really a nanny job, it was more like I infiltrated their family and became one of them. :-) I lived with the Porters for almost a year, we had a blast. Tickle fights, dressing the kids up like scarecrows and singing "If I only had a Brain" for their parents after a weeknd away, sitting and talking with Paul and Nettie in the evenings with a glass of wine (ok, maybe I was 21!) and the kids doing voice warm ups with me while I got ready to audition for a community theatre show. Paul, Nettie, and the kids really did feel like a second family to me... but even better they became good friends.

Over the last 14 years we have always stayed close. Ron and I always visit when we are down in California, Lauren came and spent a week with us in Seattle, and I was so proud to attend Reeds graduation last year. Paul and Nettie have been more than friends- they have been an example to me of what a good marriage and family is like. Growing up as children of divorce, both Ron and I have said over and over again how hard it is to even see a sucessful marriage these days, and how great the Porters are. When we grow up we want to be the kind of parents/partners that they are. Robert is now a senior in High School and a great athelete. Reed is a sophomore at Sonoma State, and Lauren is getting ready to finish her last semester of college as an art history major in Rome. They have all grown into such great people. All are caring, intelligent, fun, and friendly. Paul and Nettie did a great job!

So what's this all about? Well, last week Paul had a brain aneurysm that burst. He is currently at UCSF Hospital where he is getting the best possible care available. They have stopped the bleeding from the aneurysm, and he is breathing mostly on his own- but things are still very serious as the swelling of the brain still continues to fluctuate and he is in a drug induced coma because of that. There have been additional challenges- small strokes, vasospasms, and pheumonia. They are just trying to keep him stable, and every day they do so his chances get better. But Paul is a very very sick man.

On Saturday Max and I flew down to San Francisco for the weeend. I wanted to visit Paul, as well and just to be there for the family. I was unsure about it because it meant bringing Max along- but really I had no choice and in the end I was so glad that we went. Nettie and the kids (as well as other family members) all said that Max was the best medicine they could've had during such a rough time. His laugh made everyone smile and take a break from the sorrow and anxiety that everyone was feeling. It was Max's first time meeting the Porters, and he loved spending time with his Aunties Nettie and Lauren, and especially being "flown" around by Uncle Wobert. I wish Reed had been around to meet him, but he had to leave to get ready for the first day of classes. And, of course, I know how much Paul would've loved to meet him and watch Robert and Lauren play with him. We hope that he will get to do so soon.

In the midst of hanging around the hospital cafeteria, my mom and brother came up to visit Max. It was just too close to not see him! We took a nice walk to Golden Gate Park. Also, Max and I stayed at my old friend Kimmy's house and got to meet her daughter Penelope, who is just adorable. It was rough travelling with Max on my own at times, but he was a trooper and did great on the plane. I managed to snap a few pictures with my cell phone throughout the weekend and have posted them below.

Paul is such a loved person. He is not only a great dad to his kids, but is also a good friend to so many people. He has always made me feel valuable, like he is genuinely interested in my life- I know he is. He has so much to see and do still... please keep him and the whole Porter family in your thoughts and prayers, send energy, whatever you do... it can only help.

Nettie and Max

Uncle Robert and MaxAuntie Lauren, Uncle Robert, and Max

Uncle Larry andMax, walking in the park


kyouell said...

I'm sure that it was hard to travel without Ron's help, but I'm also sure that when Paul's family looks back on that weekend Max's presence will become more cherished as time goes on.

Not to liken the situations too much, but when I was participating in hospice care for my grandfather it was the younger cousins in the family (who were too young to really understand what was going on) that made us all see that we are a *family* and despite the hard work that is happening right now the reason it is worth it is these children. We had to keep it together because someday these will be their memories -- it helped us feel like a unit and not break down into sleep-deprived bickering.

I say, more babies! They make people feel good!

Analisa said...

Oh, Ellie, I'm praying for them. I think it's great you took Max down there!

Analisa (Megs Mom on MDC)

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