Those sound like cruel words at first blush. But Grace will be the first to tell you that’s a wise piece of advice. She knows what she’s talking about.
A few days ago when she was hospitalized following a surgical procedure, she gave directions that only three people can come to visit her – her 25-year-old son who is an accountant, her daughter who is a medical student at University of California – Irvine, and her adoptive mother.
It’s not that Grace does not get along with her extended family, her friends or her co-workers. But last month, when she had another surgery which required an eight-day stay at the same Bay Area hospital, she was so inundated with visitors every day which became so stressful that it impacted her recuperation in a negative way.
“Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and my friends and co-workers, but I have to take care of myself first,” said the vivacious and amiable hospital office worker.
“But I come from a really big family. I’m the youngest of eight children, so every day I had visitors. This room was always full. It was hard for me,” she recalled.
She decided there and then that at her next surgical procedure, which was already scheduled at that time, she would only allow the three people closest to her to come and visit. Her daughter, though, was unable to stop by because she could not get away from her classes, Grace explained.
Her relatives and friends understood her request not to be disturbed at the hospital and they respected that, she said. Their concern was perhaps heightened by the fact this latest surgery was heart-related.
Apparently, Grace was blessed not only with a larger-than-most family but one whose members all get along enviably well. One case in point – her biological mother and her adoptive mom get along famously. And when her doctors pronounced her ready to go home from the hospital, she called one of her cousins to pick her up and he showed up even before she was done packing her things.
Having said that, Grace joked that her life story would put a lot of soap operas on TV to shame. She was a baby of barely eight months when she was reluctantly put up for adoption by her biological mother. Her father had died unexpectedly, she said, leaving his wife to raise eight children by herself with the youngest, Grace, not even a year old. So her mother had to put her up for adoption. Amazingly, both “my two mothers” get along very well, she said.
She remains close to Julie, her adoptive mother, even after she made the exodus from the Bay Area to Modesto where she is an active parishioner at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Oakdale Road. She just loves her parish, she says, and will miss their long-time pastor, Father Joseph Illo, who just accepted a position this summer as chaplain at a Catholic college in Southern California where he will also teach. Father Illo is also familiar to many parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Manteca where he was assistant pastor for several years prior to being transferred to St. Joseph in Modesto.
It was easy to see the close relationship that Grace and Julie enjoyed while the former was in the hospital. Listening to their conversations, it was also easy to understand why the soft-spoken and always-smiling Julie was one of the only three that Grace wanted to have as visitors post-op. And like any concerned mother, and despite the commute she had to make during each visit, Julie was her daughter’s side every day she was in the hospital.