Sunday, August 28, 2011


elders speak
in a different tone of reality
I listen
carefully for lessons
attentively for jokes
respectfully because they have earned it
in my estimation & experience with them

when you are 96 and 1/2
and start talking about another of your elder friends
passing away
once again before you
and when your son died when he was only 26
and you talk about him with tears on this day
it was so long ago
he was so painfully young
and your friend who just died
was the minister for your son's funeral
the stories roll on together

I find myself
with an open-mouthed gawk feeling
many times
not believing that I have heard what I have actually heard
somebody else is "pushing up daisies"
or some outrageous commentary on the foibles
of getting old
my hand wants to grab a pen and notebook to capture the words
but it is too self-conscious a move
the words slip through my fingers
as if trying to grasp fountain water
with my bare hands
wondering why I have none to show for the effort.

I do remember this one:

"Gloria, I hope that when you get to be as old as I am,
you have someone as good as you are
taking care of you."

that made for a nice Sunday morning "service"
spoken from a living room chair by an old Methodist
way back when

Saturday, August 27, 2011

East Coast

I grew up on the East Coast
and have family and friends there
getting hammered by this storm
makes me sad and fearful for them

my heart and thoughts are with them
and all the people facing this hurricane

nature has its powerful beauty as well as forceful
ravaging away
one time blasting a corridor of devastation through Joplin
now smashing waves up the coast
churning lives and worlds
and then there is


after the shattering howling screaming winds

the water will recede
the boards will come off the houses

people will go home
to find what remains
and they will be changed in some ways

the morning light will come
I pray that there will be loved ones
to hold hands
to look deeply into each others' eyes
to look for the new day
not alone
the shoreline changes over time
loving bonds are meant to be forever

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the little things

when Janet wrote in a comment that she liked the story
about Uncle Don and the box of chocolates
it reminded me of the time
writing Holy Moly...
I would write these stories out
and give them to her on paper copies
and they would come back with red and green
pen notations

green was for "green light"
something that stood out for whatever reason
special, especially funny or significant
she laughed or cried (those are the ones I liked to read best!)
red was for a re-think, spell check, clarification
pull in, expand, delete...
I loved looking for the green ink!
she was always gentle with the red

we did that for over a year

it made me see daily life differently
during that process and ever since

the encapsulated moment
the story within a story
engaging the experience to enhance
the power of words, good and truly heartfelt
and the sounds that quiet weaves
naturally, not artificially,
with a consciousness, a presence of spirit

not weighted with a morbid sense of
this may be the last time I see you
but with a heightened awareness
that this is the only time
we will be together in this way:
let's engrave it and wrap it with a signature style
take a snapshot
make a mini-movie
stage a musical, off-key, with no sets
just the cosmos as background and witness

Bryan sang to Olivia today!
there were people all around
it was first-kiss perfect

you can sing in the rain
in the sunshine
through storms
and share the perfect personal moment
in a brilliant way
that eclipses
the sun itself

forwarded & yes

yes, the lovely card with incredible calligraphy
Stephanigraphy came to mind
arrived and the forwarding worked to get it to:
1524 Affirmed Drive 65202
thank you so SO much

this is becoming home bit by bit
day by day
heading out to give away a bunch
and to get some curtain rods
and some other nice necessities/niceties

when Bryan saw the beautiful card
he said:
"Mom, you are going to make beautiful things
like that for your friends
in your new art room, aren't you."
and I said:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Uncle Don's very own box of chocolates

one of Brandon's favorite movies is
Forrest Gump
..."Mama always said: 'Life is like a box of chocolates;
you never know what you're gonna get.'..."

yesterday afternoon we made a little trip
to see Uncle Don (Aunt Dorothy's husband)
who is living in a nursing home in Moberly, MO

we stopped along the way to pick up
a box of chocolates
he is the king of desserts
I swear I could never understand how anyone could
down desserts with such relish and stay so slim and trim!
my jealousy was never hidden

we always exchanged Russell Stover boxes with them
at Christmas
and yesterday might as well have been Christmas
the way I see things

he lightened up when he saw us and a special light went on
when the box of candy came out!
his lucid moments are in and out
well, when I got the box opened
and offered him first pick
it was after all HIS box
he was definitely not interested in looking at the
chart showing which candy was in which little compartment
no sir, no ma'am
he raised his arm in the air
circled it around
looked everywhere else
and plunged into the box
and picked out the one
he was meant to have

the surprise was at least half the fun
we all had our approaches to selecting our chocolates
and I had to pass
since all I could eat yesterday were veggies and meat/fish
definitely not sugar
so I got to watch and be the candy waitress
which was fun
Uncle Don was game for a second piece
and swirled his arm once again
as we laughed all together

never will I see a box of chocolates
without remembering
what may wisp away from his mind
a sweet memory
to be repeated
with a smile and a quiet reflection
on life's profound simplicity

straight talk

it has been a long few days
first time with a PET scan so I learned some things
and ate fewer things for the last couple days

the good news is that the cancer has not spread to
soft tissue organs
the other news is that there has been
disease progression in my spine
in several locations

hence the increased tumor marker numbers

long story shorter
is that we came to the decision to try a new
treatment starting tomorrow
it is not chemo, will be monitoring closely
to see when we need to move to a more aggressive style

for the kind of cancer this is
there are more weapon/tools to throw at it than many other cancers
and yet the reality is that the number is finite
and so how to choose wisely is the name of this very serious game
once a drug is used, and the cancer "figures it out"
it is essentially useless in the future

and the big prize of A Cure for Cancer
is always on the horizon for someone's luckiest day
somebody please do not give up
we are counting on you
for the day when the declaration can be heard all over

I hope to live to hear that voiced
loud and clear
if not, I will be cheering from the Great Somewhere
Over the Rainbow
beyond the rain, the reign of tears
far beyond the fears...

tonight my son Bryan is singing in the shower
"A Whole New World" from Alladin
to sing for his girlfriend Olivia at school tomorrow
they will sing together at lunchtime when they meet
she is a very talented actress and singer/dancer
and has convinced Bryan to try out for the All School auditions
for the seasonal production of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas"
it is his senior year and he is pulling out all the stops
"go for it" whatever it may be

hearing him sing tonight
singing with him recently one of my all time favorites "Singing in the Rain"
with sweet memories of Brandon and Bryan belting out
"A Whole New World"
a year or so ago
a kitchen concert
a spontaneous, loud and amazing combustion of love and laughter
and great voices - I had no idea!
the rainbow

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

flower girls revisited

flower girls came from other states as well:
that dawned on me early this morning
my apologies & gratitude extended

and speaking of flowers
can you believe that along with lovely flowers
in her room
there are even water lilies
in a pond
in New Mexico!
somehow I think of those exclusively
in lakes in Massachusetts
only accessible if you
row your boat

if you know how to zip around in your wheelchair
you can get to them
in the high desert as well apparently

flowers flowers everywhere
healing wheeling in your chair

(couldn't resist, I used to do that everyday
with Brandon and Bryan, making up little
poems-in-songs usually, getting up in the morning,
on the way to and back from school
it also included making up words
because once you start to rhyme
you have to finish it
no matter what)

Monday, August 15, 2011

flower girls

there are flowers in a room in Albuquerque
lovely and bright with the
they were sent with....

thank you, California flower girls, beautiful of you to do that

I was asked to convey the appreciation my Mom feels
we both had some of those warm good tears over the experience
as she described in great detail
the colors, types of flowers, vase and ribbon
mostly the heart


with courage and grace

my friend and therapist Denise oftentimes
printed out "Daily OM" messages/thoughts
and finally after years of saving them
I decided to sign up and have them sent to me

a Daily OM

today the thought centered on the gray area
we dwell in at times
a monotone existence
a numbing place where emotions are sent away
and are replaced with activities
chosen to avoid really LIVING it all out loud

I do that I know I do

hmmm, History Channel calls me or one of the zillions of Law & Orders
how about spacing out in my thrift stores
I do actually say it to myself that I am zoning out
I do actually tell other people when I am doing it
it is an escape
perhaps a refuge from a storm

so many things have happened this summer
it seemed that there was never time to digest one event completely
before another wave came

I came home from work to an empty house today
very hungry so I set about making a meal
and I turned on the computer
at the table
and flipped around and decided to watch
The Royal Wedding
WHY on earth?
I love their beautiful youthful faces
I love the pomp and ideal circumstance of a beginning
tradition has its comfort factor
the choir sings divinity
through the voices of children
it breaks my soul open
and I also liked the trees in the Abbey...

ah and there are more boxes to unpack
far from castles with turrets
as I descend into the mist and fog of an oddly crispy bright
London day

it was someone else's day yet the planet's people
wanted a piece of it
wanted some peace through it
wanted to touch a moment in history
to call their own

no matter the messed up monarchy / we got them off our backs long ago
to the devil with the hypocrisy and the masks
and the very weird and quite artsy headgear
we want a true love moment
a fantasy in lace
and Cinderella's carriage
to take us away, too,
a land of hope and joy and love

I acknowledge my Daily OM's wisdom
and the fact that I am Exhibit A, the Poster Child
for Advanced Avoidance Activities

I laugh at and with myself

tonight I will accomplish something, some tasks
more than that, I want to accomplish
some internal advancement
perhaps read words that will challenge me to be more than
I am


Sunday, August 14, 2011

a certain kind of fragile

that phrase just popped into my head
a certain kind of fragile
I wasn't thinking of any particular subject
it was a feeling that came like a night breeze

I like falling asleep in a hammock
under trees
late in the afternoon
and the evening approaches while you are dreaming
no one is rocking you
and yet you sway

I was watching a Nat Geo special on hulu
and it cut out on me
it was about events in space
and how the earth is traveling
when to me
it seems to be still enough for me
to walk
and get my Tibetan singing bowls from the shelf
and strike them with a wooden mallet
going round and round
the sound amplifying
and swaying
in the tiny space of
a room with
the window cracked just enough
to let in
some evening coolness
moved into the night

a certain kind of fragile
a certain kind of strength
a special kind of memory
that does not look back

Thursday, August 11, 2011


just lost a long post.
just as well
it wasn't raw enough I guess

driving along together recently
Bryan told me that he liked the way I wrote here
"raw" he called it
he said he saw it as a book but hesitated to tell me that
in case it might affect the rawness of the way I write
not to worry
no other way now
no turning back
I am glad he likes the "titles" of the posts
this one you named, Bryan

the move happened
we are all still shell-shocked is the best way I can describe us
it is like I can't even talk about it yet...

intense points of goodness, togetherness, frustration, exhaustion,
laughter, sweat, so much sweat in this heat wave
I proved when I was really young that I could live
from what I carried in a backpack:
WHAT HAPPENED? they asked me...
now it is drawer by drawer, box by box to a new place
physically to call home
mentally & emotionally to feel home

"a giving legacy" would be a nice topic
for an article, I thought as I contemplated where I could donate
mountains of books and stuff that threatens to swallow me up
yet would become usefully/joyfully-employed if sent on their merry way
I need to find this peaceful happy place to operate from
a Land Away from how shell-shocked we all are now

my mother is also in a new home, temporarily, in Albuquerque
she fell and broke her hip about two weeks ago
and is now in a wonderful rehab center
called The Good Samaritan - Manzano del Sol - translation:
Apple of the Sun
even the name makes you feel happy, you know?
step by good step...

yesterday I got a call letting me know that my tumor markers are up
spiked in the last month
hard news
will hear today about tests and dates etc.
I have been off chemo for maybe seven months
it takes about 18 months to leave the side effects completely behind
I have not had that experience in five years
without sounding like a whiner
it is like being told that after starting to taste the
light of day
it is time to wire you up again
and go back into a haze
a cave
and you know it has to be that way
and I accept it
and I am grateful
yes I am
and I am also afraid and sad about it
I will do the tests
and wait that endless wait for the results
put on a shirt that stretches at the neck
so they can access my port
and accept with a gracious mind
the liquid-fighter
that buys me more time
the best side effect is:
being alive
I will say it over and over again as I descend into a fog
that I will mask as best I can

we will see
perhaps we can buy a little more time with
another treatment
once we figure out what is going on.
It is always about "team"
for me.

thank you, my teams
I cannot stand alone
only together