Category Archives: Cancer

The lonesome year…….in Honor of my friend


In a few short days the one year anniversary of the death of one of my closest friends will be upon me. She was more than a friend, she was my preacher man husbands sister. From the first time I met her I made it my goal to win her over…..since I have two sisters of my own, I know girls and I knew pretty quick she was a contender.

She was a few years older than my preacher man which was fine until I realized she was my age. I am older also than him……which was not a problem…he was taller!(the logic I had back then!!) To him though, she was the dreaded big sister…and that was pretty much their relationship. This was going to be an uphill battle.

But, it turned out that it was pretty smooth. Me being a person who always wanted to be liked and her need to be the boss of him (not really, but she was already the enemy and I was soon becoming a traitor!)I think in his eyes at least I was on treacherous ground. It was understandable since in ALL families the kids are some days on the same side and on other days mortal enemies. Nothing so shocking about that. I am from a family of four kids…and we had four kids…….drama times four!

We did become fast friends and spent the next nearly thirty years, raising our kids, talking on the phone every day(thank you Lord for the invention of call waiting, that was about the death of me)since to get through the day we had long conversations about anything from baby rashes to the world news and everything in-between. Some days we would venture out of the house to tour the local Wal-Mart or fast food kid meals and playgrounds. Yep we had a big life….oh me!

Our families would hang out and we would cook great suppers and play cards and visit and compare our husbands. The rub was that mine was her baby brother….like I said treacherous grounds. But with many good and bad days…fights and fusses….prayers and intercession we were tight. Our lives were inter-twinned. She was my people….. my sister just as much as my two blood sisters and in the adult time of my life I was with her more.

So after one year with out her I can honestly say it has been hard. It wasn’t fair…we didn’t have enough time. There wasn’t enough time for her to spend with her grande babies. No one loved babies more than her. Where I liked only my kids…mostly, she loved to play with all babies(weird!) but sweet of her. Those grand babies were her heart after her two boys who were her pride and joy. She loved her boys and she was such a better sports mother than me….she was at every event, no matter the distance. In my defense…three kids on three different fields…..exhausting!

I could tell funny stories for days about our adventures, we were a cross between Lucy and Ethel and Laverne and Shirley; many stories are too unmentionable(funny as well as gross!) but most of them were silly, just like we were. We have shopped on the curbs of the finest homes(they leave their “junk” out there to be picked up)(we were recyclers before it was cool)and did every craft that was in style. She would call and say…”you up Ethel?…..lets go eat breakfast after the kids go to school” and we would go….pony tails and sweat pants, we didn’t care.

My loss is in no way anything like that of her husband and boys, but it is my pain. I had the best friend for a time…we were brutal on each other as well as full of love. This has been a lonesome year for me. I cherish my friends and I cherish the time I had with her. I am not sad for her, she is healed and beautiful and happy and where she lived her life to go, in heaven worshiping her Savior. I would not want her to come back to the pain she felt before she passed. I know I will see her again.

So in tribute to her, I post her picture as my header for my blog. This is the place I share my heart and I wanted to honor her in some small way, my way. Jesus knows my pain and he has carried me through. We all have lost people in our lives, I am nothing special but this is my friend…my sister….so this is my way to honor her. If she was writing this she would say…don’t weep for me, give your heart to the Lord, follow HIM, He is the Way, Truth and the Life, He brings peace and he loves YOU!

This is what I say also……Jesus is the only way.

John 3:16
John 3:16 (Photo credit: Martin LaBar)
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Dodging a bullet……praise the Lord!


Rarely do I find myself in a situation that shakes me to the core. I say rarely but, these days it feels as if it happens often. Today day has been a especially good day considering it is the day I dodged a BIG bullet...praise the Lord!

I am compelled to explain myself with the above phrase because I will never be able to give the Lord enough praise for the giving me this great gift…a pass of sorts…one that I do not take lightly. I, like most women, am keenly aware of the wonderful mysteries that our bodies hold within all our loveliness. The plain fact is…we got a lot of stuff that can go wrong!

I have spent the last week wondering if mine had failed me…..I say wondering, but it has been more like giving up, hiding under the covers, planning the hearfelt words I was going to give my children so they could live their lives in peace knowing they are loved……. Just like the immortal Fred Sanford….I knew this was it....I was preparing for the worst…..I had been too lucky so far....oh the drama of it all!

Without becoming to medical (since I know so much from watching Dr. Welby way back when…) and even more, too creepy and awkward….I feared that the one peculiar ping pong ball-like lump in a very tricky place in the northern region of my northern parts turned out to be actually triplets (3 pongs!) for which are all benign and they don’t seem to be of the deadly type.

How was that for delicately describing it! Once again….I dodged a bullet and PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!! I am forever grateful and always mindful that they are there looming in all their benign-ness. I will be keeping my eye on them too, little aggravating bubbles in there hurting like crazy only to scare the holy crap out of me! How dare they!!!

Although I hoped for the best I kinda had moments of …Oh Man! NOOOOOO….this would be too weird. After telling my beloved that this maybe the end of me…..his encouraging words were…… that if I check out he is throwing himself in front of a bus!! In his own sweet way the translation was…he couldn’t and wouldn’t live without ME! Sweet Man! That seemed to be the consensus from all my people. Yeah sure I am just that awesome…..please.

This brings up a world wide question, that I believe all women of the universe would like answered….since I am so valuable and awesome with all my awesomeness……..”Then why the heck am I the only one cleaning up after everyone!!!!” BUT whose counting right? At this point I am only thankful that I am gonna be around a while to slush through the dirtiness right along with ya’ll. Hey I can take it if ya’ll can!

For all the other women who have had to hear the other news…the gut wrenching news that I so dreaded hearing…I give you honor and prayers and will buy me some pink shirts to support you and all the moments you stand strong in the face of pain and loss. I am humbled by the joy I have and by your strength to fight the good fight. In my own family there has been loss, my Mother has been through it, her mother and her Aunts. I have a history…..but I call it a heritage of strong women who endured pain and suffering so now there is more help for me. Dr. Welby sure has got some smarts now…thank you Lord for medical science and all the smart people who are called.

My heart is full for you all and I won’t soon forget the fear and fear!

www.breastcancerawareness.com

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Dodging a bullet……praise the Lord!


Rarely do I find myself in a situation that shakes me to the core. I say rarely but, these days it feels as if it happens often. Today day has been a especially good day considering it is the day I dodged a BIG bullet...praise the Lord!

I am compelled to explain myself with the above phrase because I will never be able to give the Lord enough praise for the giving me this great gift…a pass of sorts…one that I do not take lightly. I, like most women, am keenly aware of the wonderful mysteries that our bodies hold within all our loveliness. The plain fact is…we got a lot of stuff that can go wrong!

I have spent the last week wondering if mine had failed me…..I say wondering, but it has been more like giving up, hiding under the covers, planning the hearfelt words I was going to give my children so they could live their lives in peace knowing they are loved……. Just like the immortal Fred Sanford….I knew this was it....I was preparing for the worst…..I had been too lucky so far....oh the drama of it all!

Without becoming to medical (since I know so much from watching Dr. Welby way back when…) and even more, too creepy and awkward….I feared that the one peculiar ping pong ball-like lump in a very tricky place in the northern region of my northern parts turned out to be actually triplets (3 pongs!) for which are all benign and they don’t seem to be of the deadly type.

How was that for delicately describing it! Once again….I dodged a bullet and PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!! I am forever grateful and always mindful that they are there looming in all their benign-ness. I will be keeping my eye on them too, little aggravating bubbles in there hurting like crazy only to scare the holy crap out of me! How dare they!!!

Although I hoped for the best I kinda had moments of …Oh Man! NOOOOOO….this would be too weird. After telling my beloved that this maybe the end of me…..his encouraging words were…… that if I check out he is throwing himself in front of a bus!! In his own sweet way the translation was…he couldn’t and wouldn’t live without ME! Sweet Man! That seemed to be the consensus from all my people. Yeah sure I am just that awesome…..please.

This brings up a world wide question, that I believe all women of the universe would like answered….since I am so valuable and awesome with all my awesomeness……..”Then why the heck am I the only one cleaning up after everyone!!!!” BUT whose counting right? At this point I am only thankful that I am gonna be around a while to slush through the dirtiness right along with ya’ll. Hey I can take it if ya’ll can!

For all the other women who have had to hear the other news…the gut wrenching news that I so dreaded hearing…I give you honor and prayers and will buy me some pink shirts to support you and all the moments you stand strong in the face of pain and loss. I am humbled by the joy I have and by your strength to fight the good fight. In my own family there has been loss, my Mother has been through it, her mother and her Aunts. I have a history…..but I call it a heritage of strong women who endured pain and suffering so now there is more help for me. Dr. Welby sure has got some smarts now…thank you Lord for medical science and all the smart people who are called.

My heart is full for you all and I won’t soon forget the fear and fear!

www.breastcancerawareness.com

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What I wouldn’t give?


It has been about seven months since I said goodbye to my best com padre….and I know in my heart and mind that I will see her again, but when I let myself think about her (like nearly everyday) it is painful all the same. Though she was a woman of great faith and believed to her last breath in the God of healing, she had to receive that healing on the other side. Today her brother, my husband reminded me of just that, through his tears and pain he made known…. God still heals, maybe not in front of us as we pray for, but he still does do what he promises. What I wouldn’t give to see her healed.

The reality of her death comes at me in waves, sometimes slow like a small ripple across my feet when walking on the shore at the ocean’s edge. Other times, like today  a huge thrust of water, salty and drowning, taking me over. I sit and cry as if it just happened. I think how is it possible, I made peace with this, she is healed not in pain, beautiful and happy she is with the one who she longed to worship. But no, painful shock waves encompass my whole heart and once again I cry. What I wouldn’t give to be in worship service with her now.

Many times during my days as I do whatever needs to be done, it crosses my mind to tell her something, funny or crazy or just chatter. We needed no reason to talk, the incessant break down in laughter along with the chronic rehearsing of how we know so much better than anyone else how things should be. Anyone wonder what the next step should be in any given situation…just ask us, we knew! What I would give to go on a rant with her now.

On days like today, I wish I could ask her what she thinks, is she proud of me for what I am doing these days, she could help me count the costs and dream even bigger. I could tell her my fears and she would encourage me to not stop, keep it up….this is what you have always wanted! What I would give to run it by her and have her tell me I can do it.

The frustrating part is that I thought I was okay, dealing with the loss only to realize I may never be okay. No matter who thinks they had the market on her friendship, I know I did. We were sisters through and through. I know I am having a moment of sorrow now, lots of people have been here, but this is my first time. My first loss of someone so dear to my heart. She would comfort me for a minute…..then tell me to snap out of it and remind me that sorrow is for a night but joy comes in the morning(paraphrased) but now I have to just mourn.

I can not comprehend the depth of loss for her sons and her husband, makes me ashamed for my whinny-ness now. No comparison and I know that, but still the same I mourn also. What I wouldn’t give to talk to her again. She made a difference in my life, her life mattered, she was important to us all. I can only hope to make my life count. She always believed in me. No matter if we were in a time of joy or war, she was there telling me to be strong. What I wouldn’t give to be talking on the phone to her now.

So I will be strong and be encouraged because she would fuss at me if I weren’t, she would call me out and remind me that I am way to cynical for all this cry baby stuff. I will make her proud of me and still think of her everyday. Life is too short and too dang funny to not let it pass by without cracking up one way or another…..and I will continue to talk to her in my heart, apparently she is my alter ego in my head…she infiltrated somehow..maybe that was her plan after all……hmmm!

 

 

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Soothes MY Soul


Today I spent some time at my Mom’s. It was later in the afternoon and I was getting a feeling for nap time! Mostly because her house is always warm, well to be honest it is HOT! But that is to be expected, she is elderly. I can’t believe I just called her that. Never in all my born days have I thought of my mom as elderly. She never has been until now. Truth be known, if she knew I called her that she would probably skin me alive!

I wish that she could know. I wish she was the same, quick to set things straight, lady I have always known. She is but a shadow of her former self. Her mind has retreated in so many ways and her momentary memory is all that is left. Thankfully she is in good health otherwise, for which I am so thankful, it would be more sorrowful if not. Even so, she is sweet and kindhearted now, two adjectives I would have thought of her in the past, just not as obvious. She was always a good woman, strong and forthright. But she wasn’t much drama, pretty much just a straight shooter. “Just the facts!” (I must be more like my Dad…all drama!)

The time I spend with her now is hard and taxing. The crazy part is that it has gotten hard for me just in the last few months. Before I was able to take it in stride, dealt with it pretty good before, and I even felt pretty proud of myself and felt the need to help my sisters wrap their heads around this disease. Pretty smug considering now it is a struggle for me. I am not sure why, maybe because the amount of loss we have had lately. Losing my sister-in-law to cancer last year took a toll on me I know.

Daily I miss her. Daily I search my mind for remnants of her. I still have the last four voice mails on my cell phone she sent me. I listen to them often as well as the last stream of texts. She was reminding me to be careful on the cruise we were about to board with all the mishaps, husbands and wives falling overboard and all. I think she had an over and under bet on me and her brother and if you knew her and us that would be believable. We constantly ragged her poor brother about everything — not that he ever knew it! It was our own little world. Her being his OLDER sister made for plenty of wars. He was pretty obnoxious I am sure as any little brother can be. I think their mom would make her take him on dates with her and her boyfriends! Recipe for murder I say!! SO who could blame them for their lack of warm fuzzies about each other! She would describe the little boy and I would defend the grown up man — a never-ending test of wills. I eventually won that battle and she agreed. She loved him despite herself which is the best ending of all.

I often remember the crazy conversations we had. One minute we would be deciding on what to cook our crews for supper and then without skipping a beat go into a story of our many yard sale adventures and my search EVERY TIME for a bathroom. YES, I did ask people to use theirs. She would go hide in the car, humiliated yet laughing her a#& off! (only word that can be used there, it is a Bible word, by the way! Just in case, forgive me Lord!) It would almost be a dare and the funny thing was people would let me. She would say she couldn’t believe I had the nerve to ask and I would say I couldn’t believe they would be so dumb to let me!! Me a stranger, though my only agenda was to potty and not have to leave such a good sale to drive a gazillion miles to a gas station. As a side bonus I did get to see some pretty cool houses! We were also famous for dragging home old furniture from the curbs….good times! The best of times and had I known they would be over so soon….whew makes me tear up again.

So when I go to my Mom’s house I guess I am realizing that the time will come when I will have to say good-bye to her. It is all so “in your face” this slow death. It is a fact of life that is a bitter pill. Not for the one who dies but for those of us left behind. I know where my sister-in-law is and I know she wouldn’t come back if given the choice but, still so very hard. Today her son made a funny (to me) comment on Facebook about a driver in front of him and I belly laughed because it was HER spit out! She, like me, was a verbal driver and had no patience for ignoramuses who pretend to know how to drive and when I read his comment it was hysterical.

Things like that give me comfort…maybe I am the only one, but when I hear or see something that reminds me of someone I love it is soothing to my soul. Her children do arise and call her blessed and every time I see a red bird — Cardinal — I am reminded of my Mom, though she doesn’t remember know that she used to love to see them. I do and it soothes my soul. I too will arise and call her blessed.

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“My pigtails are too tight!”


Today I had a funny thing said to me while in a conversation with my sister-in-law on the phone and it cracked me up so much as our talks usually do and sent my mind reeling to the point that it made me think long and hard about life and the frailty of it. She was telling me about a recent surgery and she had gone back to the doctor for the stitch removal from the back of her neck. Now as a rule these stories of medical adventures are not something that I take joy in hearing about from most people. It isn’t that I am particularly heartless or uncaring, (although I have been told that Mercy is not one of my strong spiritual gifts) it is just that I get a bit creeped out by all the messy details, but I attempt to listen intently and nod in concern at the proper times. On this day I was paying close attention because my dear sister is dealing with an awfully frightening battle, one that I am prayerfully hopeful will be a conquest for the Lord which will reveal his mercy and healing power, so I am astutely interested in all the details, she is my husbands only sibling and has been one of my closest friends for the last 28 years. We have raised our kids together, been through ups and downs as families go, day to day crisis, jealousies and frustrations, good times and bad. We have had many times of rejoicing, we have been in ministry together (I secretly prayed for her ability to cry every time she walked into church, seems so caring!}, encouraging each other and telling each other the plain truth on most occasions. It has not always been pretty but, it has always been fun, we have laughed about all the ridiculous stages of our lives(this one being funny, thank goodness for cell phones in compromising situations), kept each others kids, stayed snowed in playing cards all day with our men and taken our family vacations to the beach. We haven’t always agreed but we have always eventually been able to talk it out and remain friends. We know more dirt on each other than anyone else, it’s in the vault and will remain until Jesus comes..we are buddies, com padres, friends and freinemies! To sum it up…sisters, she was there when I was missing my two sisters, I was her only one, even though only by marriage, she was with me in the delivery room with my third child, she made him a southpaw…I am convinced of that, needless to say… we are tight. So when she said that her stitches were so tight before the doctor took them out that “it felt like her pigtails were too tight!” it totally cracked me up. The visual was killing me and if you have ever had that problem, i.e. pigtails too tight, you can completely empathize with her. It took me straight back to when I was a little girl with pigtails and the awful pain, one that hurt your head all day long and it finally dawns on you after the headache that won’t go away, that it is the pigtails that are causing it. Then you have the decision to make…do you endure it or take down your hair and deal with the awful humps in your hair from the rubber bands? So you leave it up till you get to the safety of home and that is why it was such a funny thing to say..it was so childlike, so naturally plain and real. It was a remembrance that made me feel happy. Happy is what I want to be when talking to her about her situation, a hard one to stomach, yet she has handled it with all the grace and courage that I would expect from her. This is typical of her, strong yet frail on the inside, she will maintain this attitude of gratitude for her family and her Lord. She has much faith and she is a force to be reckoned with so good luck Devil! You’ll not win! Her precious grandfather who passed away a few years ago at just short of 100 years old, who by the way was just about the most quick witted person ever born, would often say…”bring me my flowers while I am still alive!” So to my precious sister, not just in-law but for real, here are your flowers, you are important, you are a valuable prayer warrior in God’s army and and a friend of great heart and love. The times we have laughed and they have been many will be some of my most sacred memories and when the day comes that we actually figure out how to be committed to our adjoining rubber rooms in the insane asylum, I know we will have many more, three square meals a day and all the rook playing we want. And eventually, which ever one of us that makes it to heaven first, be sure to find out where the best bathroom is! We have covered most of Tennessee, Alabama and the Gulf, that will be a new frontier for us. Seriously, we must always be prepared for anything! AHHH, middle age….ain’t it grand!

One of our own


Love Affair
Love Affair (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

One Of Our Own

Last night my beautiful husband made me a fire in the fireplace.
Made meaning..lighting the pilot light in our gas logs, though he would have made the “real” kind if we had one…sort of a pyromaniac that one. He loves to build a fire and watch it burn. Must be a family trait!
Sweet one as he is, he noticed that I was all bound up under a blanket while watching and old movie..(“Love Affair“-made before “An Affair To Remember“-Charles Boyerand Irene Dunne..a must see!) and offered to warm me up with a fire and I happily said yes.

An Affair to Remember
An Affair to Remember (Photo credit: saturdave)
It was a sweet gesture for which I will never forget to notice and one that gave me a well needed comfort here at thebeginning of what will surely be many cold nights.
Have I ever stated publicly how much I HATE COLD WEATHER! Let’s just be clear on that. It is so cold…not fair, we live in Tennessee not Michigan!……. Okay, finished with my rant!…. As I sat there looking at the fire even more than the movie, I pondered about the times that I remember… one of our own who LOVED her fireplace. It is an image I will always have. I would tell her…..”you realize it is expensive to run that gas log fireplace……you should only run it when you have a special night of company or Christmas! “And her reply…… “HUSH!….By the way, since when did I become so frugal”…… (busted!) and I would just laugh and we would go on yammering about everyday things.
It’s those everyday things that I miss the most…we could get on a soap box better and faster than anyone..and we were always right…its the people who were wrong!(Sybil movie a.k.a. Sally Field, reference) Way back when, before her swanky, flip a switch fireplace, I remember her standing sprawled out, both legs wide across the grate in the floor of the hallway at her old house, when they had the kind of furnace thingy in the basement. She would stand there getting warm and toastyfor what

Sybil (1976 film)
Sybil (1976 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

seemed like forever.

Depending on where you were..in the living room or kitchen, she would flip around and carry on a conversation……no big deal! This was when our babies were small and eventually one of them would step on the grate…..have crisscrosses on their feet but, it would teach the others to stay away. Survival in the kid world I guess. But anyways, as I sat and watched the fire burn I realized how short life is and watching a fire burn IS a fun thing to do, I don’t know why but it is. Even more, it is the cozy factor which is what I think she liked the most. She would say that she runs her fireplace more than the heat and I would guess that was true and good for her! I am glad she did and every time I foolishly use mine I will do it in honor of my dear sister (in law)….she is one of our own who left us way too soon and it is even as I write this, painful to talk about.
No time have I known anyone who believed so fully that she would survive this awful disease and it turns out she was right. She did survive it just not in the way we wanted her too. I am thankful no none has said within my hearing that God needed one of his angels back or another totally non scriptural or even more STUPID thing people who don’t know what to say have said. I am thankful for that…its the small things, ya know. But the truth is God is the only one who knows the reasons why..we can question all we want but still HE knows and it is not required for us to be informed. His grace is sufficient for us all and I put all my faith in Him and His wisdom.
She is One Of Our Own…Our age, Our family, Our friend, Our aunt, Our daughter and Sister; GiGi, Mom and Wife. It hits hard when it is that close and after twenty plus years of ministry with my husband I still know that the words are not there. I had always felt compassion to people in this situation but this time it is one of MY OWN!
There are no words that satisfy the hunger for answers, the longing for her back just to text or talk, endlessly about nothing and about everything….and the days in front of the fire..warming her toes…wasting all that expensive gas!….. OH..go ahead and waste it…it’s not a waste, silly me. Every time I look at my fire at my house it will be a warm remembrance of a time that was fleeting and a friend that was my best.
Take the time….linger by the fire…what is all the fuss about…not a darn thing we can do about any of it and even that gives me Hope…He has it all under control…Amen!
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