In 2021 when I started this tradition of publishing our annual family letter, little did I envisage living through such a forgettable year. Looking back, Chitra’s option of sending out a simple card now seems like a brilliant idea!
We celebrated and welcomed 2022 in Oahu, Hawaii which marked the end of an adventurous and memorable trip. Our first visit to a hospital this year, was on Jan 22nd, after Yash had a severe food allergy reaction. Little did we know then, it was a sneak peek to our year. For many of our friends, who may not be aware of these developments, we did not want to spread our distress around.
My saintly boy, Bambi, was attacked by a larger dog on March 4th. It was unprovoked and in a matter of 20 seconds, he was brutally mauled. We rushed him immediately to VCA Arboretum View Animal Hospital where he underwent a surgery. A prognosis was possible only after the surgery. He was away from us for a heart wrenching 14 hours. We went to see him the next day and despite being drugged up, he managed to take a few steps and walk over to us. We were all on the floor of the recovery room, holding back our tears and gently caressing him. That scene is etched in my memory as we all worried about him making it. Fast forward to today, he has recovered full mobility and is still the best behaved Menon!
This next part I am going to keep brief and sometime in the future, it will be Chitra’s story to share. In early 2021, Chitra was diagnosed with Glaucoma and underwent multiple treatment procedures on the Left eye. By November’21, her eye pressure had stabilized and vision loss was limited. However, in February ’22 her left eye pressure peaked, she underwent invasive eye surgery and a shunt was implanted. This brought her eye pressure under control, but she had acute vision loss. The doctor and surgeon have classified her case as ‘rare’, For folks who may not know, Glaucoma vision loss is not recoverable. Just when she had begun to turn the corner, her right eye pressure started rising. Between April and November, she underwent a few surgeries and now has a shunt implant in both eyes. She thought she had hit rock bottom, when she was informed that her mother (who lives in India) had a fall and a fractured vertebra. The guilt of not being able to travel to India, because of her eye recovery and treatment, was the final straw.
I assure you, that was the last depressing update you read. Given the experiences from the year, I was contemplating how to sugar coat this letter, then a realization, that we still have a lot to be thankful for. These next sections should give each of you some hope and joy.
I have asked my dad to officially change my name to Bambi “Rocky” Menon. I was bruised and mauled, was clearly the “underdog” yet made a full come back. I wonder when my family will install a bronze statue of mine, that I can run to and back every time I train.
Dad wants me to focus on the thank you message. So, I want to thank my family, who took loving care of me when I was stitched up and back from the hospital. My dad slept with me on the floor of our family room, because I wasn’t allowed to climb-up stairs or get on the bed. Mom cooked hot meals for me, which gave me strength and quickly healed by injuries. My brother sneaked in treats for me and spent time gently cuddling close to my bed. Can’t forget the nursing staff, doctors and the surgeon who acted fast and with love.
Lastly, I miss Sox and Snickers, whom I no longer see on my walks. I am told they have joined the stars above and are keeping an eye on me.
I, Yash Suresh Menon, formally announce my deep gratitude and love to the best parents in the whole world – Chitra and Suresh Menon! Papa, now can you please give my phone back?
My top hits for the year; Sherlock Holmes, Sundance, Rosie, $10 an hour, crafting & Bolo Zoology and Willowbook;
- I dived deep into the depths of Sherlock Holmes, reading all his books and being inspired by his skills. My wardrobe also took some inspiration from Benedict Cumberbatch. If you have an unsolved mystery, give me a call
- Sundance was my horse to take care of, during my summer camp at Danada Equestrian Center. It was a fun experience, but it was over too soon
- Rosie was the tarantula I got to hold in my hands during our summer trip to the Rockies. She came from the Atacama Desert in Chile, was very calm and gentle. She was not defanged and helped me debunk myths about Tarantulas
- My time and services were up for sale this year and with my Indian genes, I come cheap! At $10 an hour, who could find a better baby sitter and dog walker? My most challenging gig was to entertain 13 kids in our house, as my parents partied all night!! Book me soon, these are tough economic times and prices will go up
- Explored my crafting skills with balloons, whittling and content creation with my YouTube channel Bolo Zoology, please like and subscribe
- This was my second year doing the after school program at Willowbrook Wildlife Center. I got to cut deer heart into small pieces, feed injured birds, turtles and also study a bob cat
Before I close, remember I’m babysitting and dog walking, and $10 an hour is for a limited time only 😉 . Call me!!
Taking Yash’s cue, words I would reflect on for this year are love, friends and courage.
Selfless love from my family is what has kept me afloat this year. All my boys played their parts to perfection. Bambi was by my side after every surgery, as if he knew what mom had gone through. He knew everyone in the family had other duties to fulfill and it was his duty to keep his body in constant touch with mine, while I recovered. Yash focused on his academics and positive reviews from his teachers gave me peace of mind and one less thing to worry about. If he was to read this, his immediate comment would be “keep it coming, don’t stop…just keep it coming!” What do I say about Suresh? He has been my rock through all the turmoil and in my late father-in-law’s language, “remained as calm as a duck in water”. At home and outside, he has maintained his calm, when I know for sure he was dealing with a lot. I love my boys!
Sharing a Dumbledore quote from Harry Potter; “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” I have been blessed with friends from my high school years my first workplace, my yoga teachers, guides & sisterhood, and my neighborhood. Each one of you have turned on the light for me. Actions, that were simple in your definition, meant a lot to me. So whether it was your thoughtful deliveries (food, recovery gift baskets, flowers), including Yash in the car pool, spending hours on the phone with me (you know who you are!), checking in on me almost every day (I’m looking at YOU!), listening to me cry (and crying with me), wiping my tears, joining me for trail walks, driving me for a tea date, visiting me at home (one crazy one flew from India!) and for all the prayers sent my way. I wish I had more profound ways to say this – “thank you” and I am forever in your debt.
Living in fear is not an option, I know that very well. But when faced with literal darkness, it was hard to fight, to be brave and optimistic. Suresh jokingly says that marrying him was the craziest thing I’ve done. And if I could pull that off for 22 years then I can have the courage to push through this. I have not harnessed this courage consistently through the year but this will be what I focus on moving forward.
Wow! This is turning out to be a long annual letter, so I’ll be short and to the point.
The first thing I am thankful for is “me”! Yes, I will shamelessly be thankful to my body and my mind. They have both been fierce yet graceful in dealing with life.
There are a few friends with whom I have been open about my thoughts. These folks may not have realized it, but in the absence of my mom, they have been a huge support and sounding board. You encouraged me to continue working on my fun projects. Specifically want to call out two of them, who have regularly made me laugh loud and helped in releasing my pent up pressure. To all of you, thank you for being around and keeping a check on me!
Since 2005, I have participated in many running events, and Chitra has cheered for me, every single time; from the start line, on the course and given me a victorious hug after the finish line. No matter how I performed, her cheer, her smile, her hug and her encouragement was always through the roof! This year she was not there, and it felt like I forgot to carry an important running gear. From the start line, on the course and after the finish line, her “GO MENON” cheer was missing. My running buddy, on hearing this said, “that’s a good sign, your marriage will last a few more years!!” I’ll take that! I am definitely lucky & thankful for a few more years and into my next life!
Sharing the Menon family love
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and happy holidays. May the new year bring your way good health and memorable moments with loved ones.