Monday, September 17, 2012

such a wonderful wonderful time

being together with people you love
how wonderful!

eight friends in Kansas
that state will never be the same!

from Thursday through Monday
we made stories continuously
there were times we laughed so hard
it hurt and I lost my voice
by the time I was on the shuttle back to home!

can you believe that we actually drove around in
a funeral car????????
yes, indeed we did
Pam works in the Lincoln Funeral Home
and her boss Bill gave her the keys
to use this humongous Cadillac
that has six doors, seats eight
and feels like a boat on the road

we toured around in that limo and did we ever
get looks and laughs!

in one small town we were treated by Stephanie
to one of the craziest half-hours I have ever spent:
renting and tootling around town in two
rented "limos" that were like surreys with the fringe on top
and had bicycling pedals for four people each!
of course the eight of us pedaling around
on the brick streets of the town drew quite a few waves
and plenty of smiles
and my legs got a good workout
especially when our "limo" decided to try to pass
the other in front - the "movie" of that scene
is hysterical...

it was great to be part of the art show
the gallery was so well done
with all 40 pieces together
it was interesting to meet some of the artists
and to watch the 125 or so people looking at
and responding to the artwork

from being in Pam's home
are amazing!
to getting eggs at the local lumber yard/hardware store
from going to these incredible places like The Red Barn Art Studio
and The Garden of Eden in Lucas, KS
to the Goodwill in Salina
antique malls and other flea market type places
to eating Swedish pancakes one meal
and Mexican another
the fun went on and on

when you get to be together for a number of days
there are plenty of opportunities to share
on deeper levels
and we did that
when you have all these techno gizzmos and can
look at photos from years ago - like Wendy and Dorothy as Beauty Queens!
you can laugh so hard it really does hurt and feels good
and then Melody records our laughing and so we
laugh even more!

Marion's home has a view that blew us away
I got to sit next to Sue in the big limo
and that was a treat for me
Barb picked me up at the airport in Kansas City
and we went home that way, too
watching her and Pam in the kitchen every morning
making us all such a lovely breakfast
the stories go on and on...

I had the physical energy to jump into most things
the other day I did sleep for 16 hours straight
and had very happy dreams!

ok, work time
just had to begin the stories of such a wonderful wonderful
and coming home was sweet
a sweet note from the guys greeted me
and I found presents for
my boys' girlfriends
and that was fun, too

more to come

Saturday, August 25, 2012

muchas gracias (sp?)

I do not have my Spanish translator guys here
with me this evening

thanks so much for all the encouraging input
it is fun to read

this nest piece is really strong
it is wired together and there is a lot
of hot glue holding it together

the angle of the photo does not give the exact
dimensional feel
when I get to Lincoln, I'll take a few more photos
it is always interesting to see how a gallery
displays all the pieces to make a show
that is an art in itself

when I was wrapping and wrapping the yarn on each
stick... it was representative to me of making stories
in life with others
spinning our yarns, I guess
every idea I had to start with
ended up not working out and so it was a constant
process of continuously changing gears
tweaking and liking the next idea better than the original

I am very anxious to see everyone
and to laugh and share
to see our artwork together is always fun, too

today is a special day for Bryan and his girlfriend, Olivia
it is their one-year dating anniversary
and they are doing it up in style
two romantics they are

they are out to dinner now
and I am going to get a few things together
for their return here
for Bryan's surprise for her
he rearranged the family room in the basement
into a wonderful bistro in the stars
with twinkly lights
and memory lane touches

the single rose, white candle
photo collages
on and on

time to wash a few dishes
to get ready for the fresh strawberry shortcake deluxe

thank you again for so much loving lovely support

Monday, August 20, 2012


the past few months have been a blur of time
living it was about all I could manage
the chemo that knocked me down
was hard to bounce back from
I kept getting sick from anything at all
that came my way

such a low white blood cell count
can do that

and since my tumor markers were shooting up
at the same time
I had to get back on a treatment
and did

it is "even-ing out" I would say
and so it is best to
"stay calm and carry on"

there were other things going on as well
for example
and perhaps most profoundly
was the fact that in May
with Brandon and Bryan
that completed something for me
I remember counting the months until Brandon's
high school graduation
and making the pledge in my whole being that
I would make it to that day for him

and then, after that,
to Bryan's high school graduation and Brandon's college graduation
and so it came to pass...

I had not calculated how much emphasis
I had placed on those three events
pivotal moments
absolute goals
my personal conquer-cancer Olympics
of the heart and mind
going any distance
enduring any pain
getting to those lines
yet they were not finishing lines
and I found myself exhilarated (and exhausted) to have made it
with them and for them

flailing around afterwards
without a clear "next event"
in a way...

then becoming sicker than I have been for a long time
made for blur time

there were many things to keep doing
like working every day
and for longer days
and that was good in its own way

one event on the horizon kept me thinking
and also worrying:
the message in a bottle invitation for the upcoming
art show in Lincoln, Kansas

for months I have had the invitation on my side table
in the living room
seeing it everyday, having ideas and more ideas,
and then being more stuck than ever before
in terms of having the confidence to just begin

a fear and maybe more accurately, an insecurity
about creating "art" overwhelmed me
just thinking was not producing anything that
could be packaged and sent

I asked Bryan if we could talk
more like if he would talk and I could listen
I shared my basic struggle and he took it from there...
his insight into me is very deep
since I could not represent him well enough in my own words
I will say that he knew what I needed to hear
and I was able to begin
and complete the piece

it was a huge struggle for me
"Am I going to embarrass myself if I send this?"
entered my mind many more times than once

Brandon and Gary, Janet and Denise,
also Brandon's girlfriend Mahdi and her Mom
(Milica, visiting from Bosnia)
all helped in the process as well
and I am grateful

I made a rather interesting "nest" as my "vessel"
and the title is:
"mi casa es mi nido"
(my home is my nest)
and I will post a photo tonight maybe

it is in Lincoln now and that makes me happy
Joyce, the Director of the Lincoln Art Center,
has been very kind and I am grateful to her, too.

and my packing of this rather large piece (30 inches tall)
impressed the FedEx person so much that I was offered
a job over the Christmas holidays!

Because I have been dealing with health issues
to such a degree
I really hesitated big time whether or not I would be
able to go to Lincoln as I have wanted to

this past week, it was the first time in a few months
that the numbers are looking better
and my doctor said that we could work out a plan
to make it work for my chemo treatments
if I wanted to go
and he suggested that it would be a great idea
if I did go...

but I feel that perhaps it is too late because I have
not been in the planning-loop with my friends
I kept thinking, if I can just get past this, or that,
and then another crazy thing would come up
(and then my mother-in-law had a bad fall
a month ago and has fallen two more times since then,
the latest this past Saturday - LifeLine knows our
number by heart, so does the ER.)

I guess I am asking here if it still might work out?

ok, I need to get ready to go to work.
out of the blur, into a more clear day

Thursday, June 21, 2012

good to know

this morning I was in a grocery store
with an elderly client
what a sweet guy he is!
he made a list for me to gather things
and a list for himself
and he is so together that he
actually divided the big store in half
shopping-wise so we would each focus

I am all over the place
and not so together
as to be able to compartmentalize like a
neat and tidy grocery list

yesterday was a no-go for chemo
white blood cell count the lowest ever
and just could not manage it
bone marrow got kicked big time

good to know
why I have been so wiped out this past week
good to know
that I had to cancel a dental extraction
coming this Saturday
now who knows when

Tuesday after work was the first day in a week
that I did not feel nauseous
so I went to this little Korean/Japanese restaurant
that Gary and I like
and I just ordered my favorite dish
a bowl of veggies on rice
with all these little side dishes

the owner's American name is Gloria
it is on her business card
and she always sends me a treat of some kind
a slice of fresh pineapple
was like it was sent from the kitchen gods

she came out to say hello
and also to let me know that she has to return to Korea
very soon to have an operation
sounds like pre-cancerous condition
so it was a good decision to go that day to see her
before she leaves

it is hard to live this way long term at times
I can go for months into years with a fighting attitude
and have days when I even forget what I am dealing with
then there are weeks like this last one where I am so
and I feel like I am accomplishing almost nothing

I try not to "measure" value by productivity
and yet there are times when that's all I see

I finally wrote out and legally set-up my living will
all notarized and filed and now at some point
I will share with Gary and Brandon and Bryan
the contents... this weekend seems like a good time

feels very good to have done that
it has been developing in my head for years
and had to be on paper
so now it is, so be it
it is a positive step for me, I was in a very good place doing it

I am glad to have a job
maybe I am working a bit too much under the circumstances
but under the circumstances
it is just good to know
I can work

part of me looks this over and thinks:
what the hell are you doing writing drivel like this for?
I want to live in a very different state of heart and mind
so why not push past all this?
in the future
do I want Brandon and Bryan to read this?
and the answer that comes very quietly is
yes, I do
not so they can feel sad
but so that they can know
it will be good to know
that it wasn't always
but it is always
all ways
a worthy process
and that is

good to know

Thursday, June 14, 2012

changes and Linden's baton

yesterday I went for my checkup and knew that
my vacation from chemo was going to be over
sure enough
tumor marker numbers spiked too high to not do something

it is never easy to hear
but it is good to hear that there is still something
to throw at it
so swing away

this is my 5th type of chemo
it is relatively new - I just decided to go ahead
and start yesterday since I was right there
no need to wait another week

I found out that one of my friends passed away three days ago
her name is Linden and she had ovarian cancer
she was three years older than I am - 61
a very quiet person, she was a scientist
at the University and she discovered a very rare
she joined our Holistic Healing Group
and at first she was so quiet
but you could tell she liked us crazies!
she began to open up more and more
and we were shocked when she attended
our Reiki session and seemed to enjoy being around
those of us prone to our antics

I felt quiet sad to hear she was gone
her passing was peaceful and quick like she hoped for...

after my treatment, I was leaving the chemo room
and saw another of our Holistic girlfriends, Carol, come in with
her daughter and granddaughter - they all looked alike
three generations of Carol
I gave her a big hug and kiss on the cheek
she didn't look very good, her condition has deteriorated a lot
and she had a broken foot so had to get off the last chemo
we were both having good luck with last time.

broken bones are a bitch
I have two bones in my right foot that have not healed in over
three years, whatever
the body does the best it can...

as I was leaving, I wondered if I would ever see Carol again
and got teary
all of a sudden she calls out in this BIG voice:
"GLORIA, I am so happy to see you today!"
and I got all choked up, looked back and said the same to her
and her family...

I was very wiped out last night
and Gary and Bryan were so terrific
Gary went out and bought me flowers and the sweetest card
with a cute little firefly on it
and a message from him, and Brandon and Bryan
Bryan gave me a backrub
and we ate ice cold red grapes together - I fed him two at a time -
while he kept up with my back and head!

we watched the latest "Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman"
and another science show and in one of the shows there was a scene
with millions of real fireflies! just like on my card by the flowers...

this morning I had no idea how I would feel after a new chemo
you never know how it is going to hit
I slept well
and felt happy to see a new day

I thought of my friend Linden
and it was interesting to me - we have not gotten a newspaper
for more than a year
we read news online
for some unknown reason
there was a newspaper in the front of our house so I picked it up
inside was Linden's obituary
and it was beautifully written
I know she must have crafted it herself

I smiled at getting to read about her life in more detail than I ever knew
and I thought that today
I wanted to take hold of the baton that Linden had carried
like in a relay race
and have a good day
no matter what I might feel like
no matter if I felt nauseous or tired or what
and I felt happy to carry her baton today
with memories of time shared

I lived my relay with her today.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Croatia, Sri Lanka & New Zealand

I am fascinated by connections
three more countries
in the last week it seems
how does that happen and:

what are the stories they are living?

I had this idea when I was a teenager that I wanted
to write a series of books for children
they would be photography and personal story based

the cover of each book would be a child in a
different country
on the "front porch" of their home

the idea of the books was to be a "visit"
with your neighbor in the world
so different
so much the same

a day in the life
type story
and at the end of each book
it would be the child tucked into their bed
or hammock
or grass mat
or down quilt

the place of dreams
the infinite places called home
the world around
with the strange and intriguing languages
the smell of foods exotic
clothes I never saw
stepping out the doorway
forever changed

Shelter Gardens

today was take Sally to the hairdresser and shopping day
and it went very well
I apologized to her in person and she apologized back
so we had a nice new start together.

after dropping her off to get poofaunted which takes a couple of hours
I had the idea to go to a thrift store and look at books
and found a very nice shirt for $1
oh, and this is very sweet:
as I was parking the car before going inside
a car pulled into the street parking space ahead of me
so this young woman and I got out of our vehicles at the same time

I started to walk across the street and then saw her pull out her wallet
to get $ for the meter
and thanked her for the reminder
yes, we do need to feed the meters on Saturday
and just as I got out my wallet,
she beat me to it and popped money into mine!

a RAK? I asked her? "a Random Act of Kindness?" she echoed...
yes, I guess it is
and we smiled and I told her it made my day

inside the thrift store
the thought came to me: I wish I had paper to write her a little note
went over to the book and magazine section
and sure enough
a 1/2 used box of very pretty stationery with flowers and two butterflies
only 25-cents and perfect

right next to the stationery
was a lovely little book about Mothers and Daughters
and it is perfect for my Mom
so for $1.50 I had a nice thrift store experience

I darted out the store before my nice lady friend came out
and wrote her a note that I tucked into her windshield wiper blade:

"Nice Lady... you!" was on the envelope

I hope she didn't get worried when she saw it:
oh no I got a ticket!

Having heard from Peter after 29 years having written in his journal
put me in this very nice space of wanting to connect with another stranger
and most especially to acknowledge kindness...

then I went to the public library and that was a good decision
there were many carts in the entryway with books for sale
raising money for the library
Friends of the Library were there with a table
and so I perused the shelves and this book jumped out at me

years ago, when this cancer thing was still new
I was wrestling with the whole of it and as I had started to walk
to gain strength and settle myself emotionally
I was at a park with a small river running through

on the bridge - it was autumn - I leaned against the railing and watched the river
I thought: what am I going to do with all these experiences I am having?
there is part of me that wants to write it down
another part of me that never wants to pick up a proverbial/literal pen
or sit down to a keyboard again

what am I doing? I asked myself.
is this a journey I am on?
I am tired of the overused word journey
I am tired of path
I am not inspired by process
and a whole slew of words just got mentally tossed into the river

I picked up four outstandingly beautiful Missouri autumn leaves
and tossed them into the air from the bridge
they represented Gary and Brandon and Bryan and me
three of the leaves came together in the water and started traveling
the 4th leaf was on its own
looking at the water and listening to it,
I thought that my course at this time in my life is "my river"
and so that image has been with me ever since

I almost called this blog "my river"...

in the library today a book cover grabbed my attention:
it was a beautiful golden autumn leaf floating in a river and the book
is called:
Time Is a River
by: Mary Alice Monroe

reading the cover jacket, I held tight to the book
and gladly paid $.50 for it, a lovely hardbound story
meant to be in my hands

the dedication reads:

This book is dedicated to
my mother, Elayne Cryns,
my grandmother, Alice Monogue,
my friend, Carol Martino,
and to all our loved ones
who have lost the battle
with breast cancer.

And to all the valiant survivors.

how about that?

I picked Sally up and then took her to the grocery store
I then took my new book-friend and went for the first time
(shame on me!) to Shelter Gardens to read for an hour or so

the sound of running water made a great background
the little man-made stream became "my river"
and an authentic one room schoolhouse with a set of
old-fashioned desks became my reading room

on the way out
gazing into the water watching the koi sparkle in the sun
leaning on a bridge
I was transported to another time
yes, time is a river that
I was drawn back to

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

10 countries

blogger has new formatting and I was fiddling around with things
and came across something that blew my mind:

it has been traced that my blog: my 2nd life, has been viewed by people in

after the US with close to 10,000 views,
111 views from Australia
52 in the Philippines
47 in Russia, 44 India, 41 Germany, 26 Canada, 20 Netherlands,
United Kingdom 16 and Denmark 6

that was so moving to me
I literally felt touched to my core

made me also a bit on the "nervousy" side
am I really saying anything?

were the views accidental, just milling around the tech universe
bumping into my world? a collision registered with a number?

no matter: what a remarkable phenomenon in any case

even as one human being is fumbling around trying to make sense
out of moments and days and time & life itself
the struggles, the celebrations, the victories, pains,
the vast unknown and in gorgeous precious tiny moments
the absolutely pure beauty
of connection
manifests... aha!

and the most joyful noise of all:
the words:
I love you
in every language all over the map

it is all that matters


(I found the following little message in "draft" on the blog archives
and decided to just publish it because it was written...on a special day):


a date in time
a time of our lives
one day when we celebrated a completion
a transition
a new beginning
Brandon graduated from college
I graduated as his mom
we graduated with him as a family

apology on the way

went to the post office with several very different
pieces of mail
a book on the way to Syracuse, NY
a thank you for Bryan's corporate scholarship on the way to Palatine, IL
and a thank you/apology card to Gary's mom down the road apiece...

I tried to get an appointment with my therapist friend today
but it didn't work out - need to be here for the clothes dryer repairman, oh joy

there are times like now when things seem to be
jumbled and scrambled up
and simplicity seems like a foggy misty non-existent state of mind

thanks for the comments-of-wisdom
remembering to breathe and count
reflecting on kindness while looking in the mirror

no doubt about it: I am stressed out over the job situation
and I am taking on many more hours in my own job
which seems to be working out better than I expected.
now that Bryan is a working college man
he wants to help out with carrying some of his own expenses
and he explains his attitude in such a wonderfully mature way.

"Mom, I like becoming more independent and financially responsible..."
he says it better than I do

when I am off chemo for any length of time
my brain makes adjustments literally and physically there are changes
in reality, it takes a very short time for chemo to clear out
of your system
but the side effects and overall impact it makes takes a very long time
to reverse
and part of you is never reversed

sometimes I see that as a good thing
mostly I just see it as that's the way it is
to be completely free, as completely as is possible, from the effects
takes about 18 months of being on a chemo break/vacation
I may never get that much time in between the need to get
back on / usually 5-6 months max
will find that out next Wednesday

so I enjoy the lessening of the weight of it all for
however long as possible
and try to be as calm as possible facing the news that eventually comes
around the bend again

how great that I was able to be free for the graduation days
and mother's day and their birthday!
that was the happiest week of my life I think ever
to this day I wake up and wonder
did Brandon really graduate from college?
he did!
did Bryan really get it all together for Columbia College to work out
and is he really working there now?
are my kids each other's best friends and are they having
good times together?
yes and yes...

isn't that just great

I am wrestling with things that I don't want to write about
so there is this schizo-mindset going on...

yesterday I was almost in a serious car accident
because of a very old driver who made a very bad mistake.
because I never use a cellphone and do not even know how to text
and because I always still use two hands on the steering-wheel
I was able to maneuver hard and fast as I was screaming
and avoided the collision
and avoided the head-on or rear-ending I might have caused
while trying to get away from Mr. Magoo

a man behind me gave me a tip-of-the-hat gesture
as I was shaking

I came home and shared with the guys here
trying to calm down
we did not need a car accident in this picture

Ok, rambling rose is needing to get the door for the

Monday, June 4, 2012

thin ice

after years and years of "dealing with" old folks
in my work at Home Instead Senior Care
I thought I had become a quite patient
decent person
able to apply a sense  of humor when needed
which seems like all the time at least most of the time

their crankiness and pleasantness
switch channels faster than I can handle a remote
some get stuck in their OCD behaviors
others seem liberated to the point of true freedom
to be the best of humanity

it is strange to see myself in them at times

I have a new client and she is in her mid-80's
and she loves loves loves people
and they clearly return the favor
she is filled with stories and has a passion
for making connections between people.

after meeting her one time last week
I came back today to find that she had researched
about Gary's family
Class of 1972
whatever and her family came up with ways they knew
Gary and his younger sister

thank God I am from Connecticut for this reason anyway
I bet she could find something on me that I wish she wouldn't!

actually she did find something on me on the local level here:
she knows a former teacher who knew me and my boys
from their elementary school days...
I was the white-haired mom
with the two little boys, one in a stroller
who took out books on dinosaurs from the school library
even though he could barely talk

so the sweet side of old folks comes out in this lady
and I think that I would like to be like her if I get that old
I gave her a copy of my book today
and she was thrilled and could not wait
for me to meet her artist son-in-law who came by
to pick up her trash
what an amazing man!
He loved my book
my little sweet old lady loved seeing yet another
orchestrated connection between people
she will weave this story in with her countless other woven

and then recently I have been short-fused with the cranky types
I don't exactly get angry it is more like exasperated
"I am NOT driving fast. The speed limit is 25 and I am driving 22."
Too fast. (Whatever!)
and then with my OCD mother-in-law
I kind of ran out of my humor reserves
when she took f  o   r    e      v       e        r
to shop while I was waiting
it made me nuts, screws loosened, unhinged

it had already been a long day with a cranky old guy in the morning
and I had tried to raise the experience up in as many creative ways as
then m-i-l to the hairdresser to get her hair lollipopped
and that took another forever before the other forever

she gave up driving thank God
and was not really happy or willing to do it
oh what am I doing?
it only escalates the agitation to recall a day of frustration
but I have to admit this one out loud to get rid of it

I shocked myself in the grocery store when I went into the store
and I looked in her cart
after searching the store
after over an hour and a half
to see how little was in her cart!
I said something like:

"Jesus Christ, Sally, (I have never ever said Jesus Christ like that before EVER)
is that all you've gotten on your list?"
I tried to sound like I was joking but who knows, I was edgier than that probably,
"You could have killed a chicken yourself
and planted and harvested those grapes in this amount time...."

she looked at me and laughed sort of
and this other old lady in the aisle burst out laughing
and I just thought I must be losing my mind
right here in the public grocery store aisle
for all the world to witness

senior caregiver loses her cool

I then grabbed her list and realized she was only halfway through
and I could just imagine her getting always the third box back
or 20 minutes with the bananas
and so I decided to just go back out to the car and read a
National Geographic in the hot car
I didn't have errands to run
and I was wasting gas driving around and dangerously
putting myself in situations where I might be tempted
to spend money which is a big no-no

it bothered me that I walked on such thin ice
with humanity
yes, I am grateful that we could buy her car from her for
yes, the city of Columbia should be grateful that she is no longer
driving on these roads
I said I would help out
so help out

maybe I just got tired of being stretched

putting the mirror of my own impatience in front of my face
shows me that I am needing to grow a better heart
and the sooner the better

yesterday I was in great form at the nursing home
making Uncle Don laugh
and singing up a storm with him and Bryan
the m-i-l was a half-step behind it all
and I need to be ok with that

I will make an appointment with my therapist
and talk this stuff out
there is usually more to it than meets the immediate eye

thin ice
without skates on

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

and the seasons they go round and round

on the carousel of time

a few blog messages ago a comment was posted
that I would have missed if not for the convenient fact
that all comments are emailed to me in my inbox
so even if someone responded to a post from last year
I would get a heads-up and not miss it

someone was searching for a "Gloria Page"
who wrote in his travel journal - 29 years ago!
was it possible that it was me?
it was in Chicago. Greyhound bus station.
I took out a paper and pencil and figured that would be
I was in Chicago at that time
I was married so my last name would be Page

I had no memory of signing in a journal
but it sounded like something I would wish I would have done
for a young traveler!

This person was searching, and even had contacted North Light Books
they do not have my newest address most likely
so that went nowhere
and so searching in other ways
found his way to this blog

I asked Peter if he wouldn't mind scanning the entry
if I saw my handwriting that would be clear
he also mentioned that "Gloria Page" did a little drawing
he thought of it as the "four winds"

the scan came and I could see immediately - YES - it was
a connection from half a lifetime ago, literally
I am 58
29 years ago I was 29
I used to take buses from time to time to get around
the Midwest when I didn't feel like driving
(Greyhound was still big in those days. I had taken the bus
from New Mexico to Connecticut and back again in earlier years...)
Peter told me he had just been dropped off at the bus station
by his parents who were from Upstate New York

huge backpack, a guitar in tow
I am sure I was reminded of my own escapades a little less than a decade
He remembers that I asked if he were writing a journal.
He took it out and it was a clean slate
so I wrote in it:

"To Peter~
I hope that your journey will be deep and high!
Receive a lot and always remember to give it away
to make room for more. 
The world and you will be better for it~
       Gloria Page..."
and I drew a little sketch of a New Mexican zia sun,
like on the New Mexico state flag
with two birds
that was my symbol for years and years
always a sun and two birds

Peter David Wilder is a writer who lives in New York state
he is also a science teacher in high school
he is going to write a third book and it is going to be about
that 5-month journey he took 29 years ago

he has asked me to consider doing the cover artwork
I am sending him my North Light book so he can see
what I have done and if there is something he likes
we will go from there

an Alaskan artist friend of his - they met on that long ago trip -
encouraged him to try to contact me earlier than later
before finishing the book in case our interaction might
open something up...

I am very moved to make a new friend from a long time ago
a hello and goodbye wave into the future
the new TV show "Touch" has got me hooked
and this really is a real life "Touch" experience

Peter said that in his search for "Gloria Page"
he came across an old blog that I had started and abandoned in 2007
when he realized cancer may be in the picture
he wondered if I no longer was in the picture
glad to say that I am still around

writing a little blurb in a young person's travel journal
so long ago
little things that we do that touch another person's life
like Peter trying to find me
mean so much
so so much

he has a blog, too, and two books in print
I am very open to what I will learn from this person
to receive from this new friendship
and to give it away
making room for more
the world and me - we are better for it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

time will tell

last night Gary was in a very serious quiet mood
and he said that he had some not very good news to share
I felt sick
he said that at work
a meeting was called of all employees
and that is usually good there
but not this time

apparently the international headquarters in France
has made some big shifts in the US structure
and a facility in Cedar Rapids is closing down
and major accounts are shifting around involving Mexico
bottom line: there will be up to 70 jobs in limbo here in Missouri

this process will be over a period of time, a year-plus or so
and there are many people who will be taking
earlier than planned retirement, etc
but the tension is in the air
and it was hard to breathe last night

I am relieved that at least we didn't know this
during the past week
it would have been a cloud
and I am holding on to the sunshine we did experience

to be worried about it endlessly would be wasteful
of time and emotion
and energy best spent toward building something
rather than being afraid

now that Bryan has become a college man
and will be working as well
that will help
and it frees me up to re-look at my job
and potential work hours expanded

a part of me thinks
why am I not doing something art related
to help with finances?
can't I get my act together now?
isn't this a wake-up call
if there ever was one?

my motivation needs to be clear
I need to be able to physically follow through
with what I set in motion...
this is an opportunity if I see it that way I guess

my concern is Gary right now
so much rests on his shoulders
and right now I need to rally Brandon (he has not heard)
and Bryan and my best strongest self
to make sure he is not feeling alone
on this road

at this moment
Bryan is sitting across the dining room table
from me
writing thank you cards
to his high school principal and guidance counselors
for all they gave to him and us
it is moving to read his words
and reflect on what has been given
and planted
and what will bloom from all of it

Monday, May 21, 2012

photos for you

how it came to be

thanks so much for the loving responses
yes, it was quite something to make it to this point
in life
I remember sitting and crying when the prognosis
of 7 months to 7 years was handed out
as a death sentence
while wiping away tears
I was fumbling with my fingers under the countertop
counting the months to Brandon's high school graduation
and wondering if I would be there...

yes, there was hell to go through
and I would do it again
and WILL do it again
trying to get to 4 years from now
when Brandon will graduate once again
the next time with a doctorate
and Bryan with his Bachelor's degree
I am willing to do whatever it takes to get there
to make the utmost effort
and pray that the technology advances along with the
ticking clock

this last chemo I have been on is really new
and very effective and strong
I took it for about 6 months and it had powerful effects
and also takes its toll on bone marrow
so I am on a chemo vacation (about 4 months now)
and next month we will see if the numbers are holding
and I can extend the break or get back on that chemo
for however long

one day at a time usually is about what I can handle
and this past week has brought so much into perspective

I have been a cancer survivor/navigator for 5 1/2 years
I went past the median of 3 1/2
so I am in rare territory and grateful
to be able to say it
share it

live it

love it

how did Bryan manage to get into Columbia College?
his hard work over years, good testing abilities
and willpower and willingness to work for it
come to mind!

from Columbia College, he received 70% of tuition
he scrambled and did tutoring for 50 hours to earn
an A+ Scholarship from the state of Missouri that
Columbia College recognizes with money for four years
after our huge disappointment experience
about a week after that,
a letter came in the mail... from National Merit Scholarship Foundation
we had forgotten that Bryan had applied for a scholarship
from them, a special national scholarship funded by
Schneider Electric/Square D where Gary is employed
it was way back in the fall
when Gary was approached by someone at work
who mentioned about the scholarship
and there were lots and lots of hoops to jump through
and we jumped

Gary had remembered about it and figured the deadline had
passed us by, until he and Bryan opened the letter:
Bryan was awarded a very large scholarship renewable
for four years
and that amount plus pell grant money from the state
pretty much cover full tuition at the school!
we need to work out the final details of it all
but whatever it is, it is a miracle
a miracle that he worked many years for
and he is very satisfied in a deep way
if he does need to add to the tuition we will be able
to do that with a fund set up several years ago...

he also got a student job at the College!
in the Admissions Office
he went today to fill out paperwork
they waived the need for an interview because so many
people at the College were happy to vouch for him
he got his student ID and parking permit today
and starts work for the summer job next week
the job goes through to the whole school year as well
and he will be paid directly so he can take care
of his personal life needs
like gas in the "new" old car he just "bought" from
his Missouri grandma (2002 Toyota Corolla with 22,000 miles)
and the car still smells like it is new

what a week this has been
it has been shared with lovely people
I am so happy for Brandon and Bryan
I am happy for Gary and me
it is good to make these stories
and I am determined to appreciate every single moment more

how things came to be
how things are becoming
pure and simple
straight from the heart
to another heart
and the ripple effects are cosmically quiet
running deep
and dynamic
moving us closer & closer

Sunday, May 20, 2012

so many stories

since last writing
so many stories
I could not sit myself down to reflect
it was all about getting through
getting focused
trying to make things work
even now, I struggle with the words of it all
because I do not want to miss the opportunity
to share it
yet the very act of trying to "capture" the dreams
of things past
has its almost-pain...
no words are there enough

if I had to distill it all into a handful of symbols on a page
I would gently pick up the cards written
by two sons
to each other
their graduation cards that Bryan signed for Brandon
and Brandon signed for Bryan

what they said to each other was more important
than all the speeches we have heard
at all the ceremonies
of a lifetime

it has been such an incredibly meaningful time
so unbelievably busy to the point
of a blur
there were piles of papers on tables all over the place
and we just did our best to keep on top of what
needed to be done next
there were times when it felt
like running the bases
sliding into most of them
and the score didn't matter
just to keep playing
get up to bat
and swing away

baseball has never been my game
The Rookie today, guess that affected the vocab

Brandon is a college graduate
Bryan is a high school graduate
they are moving forward
with so much hope and support
and I am grateful to so many people
who shared this time with us in many ways

there are shiny balloons in the house
there are streamers and more balloons outside for one more night
and there are photos to testify to the fact that
this has all been "real"
even though I still wake up in the morning
and wonder
is it true?
yes, we lived this together

5-12-12 Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri
with a Bachelor of Health Science degree
5-19-12 Bryan graduated from David H. Hickman High School
and is enrolled at Columbia College
5-16-12 they celebrated their 22nd and 18th birthdays

watching 409 students with Brandon
and 558 students with Bryan
was so moving

and they all move forward in their lives
as do I
with a sense of happy quiet warmth
and when I remember those moments
of standing up and cheering with my whole self
for their accomplishments past
and especially for their futures ahead
I am honored to call them
my sons

"I am such a lucky Mom" I have said that countless times
"I am such a lucky boy" I have heard countless times
from two men

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

message in a bottle

in the middle of the week, last week,
a most amazing snail-mail delivery:

a message in a bottle - literally!

Pam in Kansas, you are an amazing artist
and the experience you give people through your artwork
is the kind that lasts a lifetime!
I keep the message in the bottle close at hand so I can share it often

oh, this can only be described with a photo... I will need Bryan's help for this

on behalf of the Lincoln Art Center in Lincoln, Kansas
Pam created invitations extraordinnaire (sp?)
invitations to participate in an art show with the theme of "vessels"
the plastic bottle is lined with parchment looking paper
with gorgeous old ship graphics (this being the 100th anniversary year of the Titanic)
inside, carefully perfectly wrapped with waxed linen thread
in a tube shape, two parchment papers with the information...

oh the mailing tag is perfect
the pen color
the postage stamps - how did Pam get the USPS to design those stamps for HER?

I can carry on endlessly
OK, I have a thought:

I just happened to notice in a Somerset Life magazine that I finally opened
the other day
that there is a relatively new publication from Stampington called "Mingle"
I think this unique artwork must be as in absolutely must be
published either there or in some other magazine
that will get the most attention:


it is an honor to be invited to participate in this upcoming show
and I will be creating a piece for it
my theme will be developed from the inspiration I get from "nests"
which are home & family vessels in my mind

the message in the bottle is experiential art
I love the back story to it
mostly I love the person who thinks and lives that way

Monday, March 26, 2012

dream adjustments

it has been a week since it seemed our world
was shattering
piecing together a new dream is the work at hand

thank you to everyone who shared hearts and stories
and hope
with us here at the message board of the blog
as well as personal emails
means the world to me and our family

I wanted to share a bit about the process
of the last week
each step was major internal work
and I definitely could not have done it alone...

on Monday evening last week, we got the phone message
that was devastating
and I knew that I was going to have to dig very deep
to find a new way other than the depression
and anger that I felt towards myself for not
having "plan # 2" in place
Bryan assured me that he would not have been a willing
participant in making a backup plan of applying to MIZZOU
and I assured him that I should have found the way
to make it seem like a good idea.

anyway, what was unfolding was the very serious fact
that we were most likely too late to get certain elements
of financial aid from MIZZOU because of deadlines past.

what I was not processing at the time was the fact that
Bryan was still being offered a substantial academic scholarship
from Columbia College - 70% off tuition - and I needed to remember that
and see how and if we could make something work

on Tuesday, I called his guidance counselor at Hickman
and had a good cry and listened to her insight and her
clear advice for me to get my act together and stop blaming myself
and that she believed Columbia College to be a good fit for Bryan...

I realized that I needed to settle things in my heart and mind
Bryan and Gary and I all had questions about what had happened
I needed the answers and most importantly I needed
to help with the dream adjusting that Bryan needed to move forward

there was only one thing to do:
communicate and set up a meeting with Columbia College
as soon as possible
as soon as I could know that my emotions were in the right place
waiting was not an option
so knowing that I had the day off from work to have treatment day
on Wednesday morning,
I emailed and asked for a meeting in the early
afternoon... I took a piece of paper and wrote down what I needed
to ask
went for treatment and that went fine - I have been on a chemo break
for two months
and on that day, I was taking the least amount of anything
since the very beginning of cancer 5 1/2 years ago
my tumor markers were up a bit
so I am on Tamoxifen again, but there was this good feeling
that I had lost 20 pounds - because I wanted to - and I can
stay off chemo for at least another month when I will have a CAT scan
to make sure we stay ahead of the game...

so, the juggling act of dealing with this cancer thing
seemed so small in comparison to my concerns about Bryan

it turned out to be a very important and significant meeting:
we could finally understand why we had to wait until the very end:

Bryan was in the position of # 12 out of 135 scholarship day participants
competing for 10 awards
in years past, there has always been one or two students
who have decided to decline, going to another school, etc...
so there was a chance that if that happened, the # 11 & 12 students
would be the 1st and 2nd alternates.
that did not happen...

it was a long and heartfelt conversation
I learned a lot about certain aspects of the "politics" of the process
and clearly saw the frustration of the counselor who still
believed that Bryan should have been one of the top winners.
Bryan has a strong advocate there in this person.
I did ask all our questions, and when the counselor said
that Columbia College would experience a real loss,
would not be as great of a place if Bryan Page was not there,
I agreed with him.

He said that he would do everything in his power to get as much
monetary aid in Bryan's corner as he could
Bryan can have a job in the Admissions Office (that would be great)
...there is a lot more but I am trying to pull the main points

The most important thing that needed to happen was a meeting
between Mr. Kruse and Bryan personally
that did happen that same afternoon
they were going to connect by phone but as it turned out
Bryan stayed after school to support his girlfriend and her music lesson
and I picked him up just before the phone call was to happen
so we just drove straight to the College
and Bryan went in alone to meet with him

it was a very important meeting
it was the beginning point of healing

the way the dream is defined has been altered
Bryan will not live on campus and we talked that out
with the counselor and feel strongly that he can still have
as complete an experience as he makes it...

as it turned out, Mr. Kruse was going to the hospital
the next day for surgery that would put him out of the office
for at least a week, so the timing was crucial that we all
communicated last Wednesday

we are in the process of reworking everything
the thing that Bryan was saddest about:
he had been looking forward to using the college fund that
we do have for him in other creative ways, such as taking
trips with his brother...
now all the money needs to go to tuition and books

I told them both that such a worthy dream is meant to come true
so let's keep moving forward together and adjust that dream
not dismiss it
or lose it
but hold tight and see the light of another new day

the other night
on Friday
Gary Bryan and I decided to watch a couple of light tv shows
that we had recorded
it was the beginning of Spring Break and the end of an ordeal
we endured together

at one point, there we were, all in our chairs, couch, whatever
and we just all started laughing at the silliest dumb thing on the show
it struck all of us at the same time
and I saw the couch Bryan was on just going up and down from his
big laugh
Gary was throwing his head back laughing
and I let it out, too, in my usual boisterous
"you can always tell where Mom is in the audience" style...
we had not really laughed in weeks, now that is a loss
that needed to be fixed and we fixed it

Brandon came and spent time with us yesterday
and everything seems more peaceful.

there are many things to be learned from what we have experienced
it is going to take me time to get the realizations
and that is okay.

"Keep calm and carry on."
I have that saying right over my head in my room.
Good idea to do it. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"going through it"...

there are so many ways of handling deep disappointment
as a family
is better than


we finally found out late yesterday that Bryan
did not win one of the ten scholarships
he came in close, something like #12...

I had my falling apart experience on Sunday evening
even though technically there was still one day left
Bryan came to my rescue
in a typically wonderful Bryan way:

he had a homework assignment to do a paper
using satire as the style of creative writing
in the middle of this whole wrenching time
he has his sense of humor intact
and writes this great "newspaper" article
with professional-style graphics about the "bullying of gingers (redheads)"
and it is hysterical

so while I was just in the biggest crying jag in years
moments before
he has his arm around me
and I am laughing my head off reading his paper...

last night I did my best to be there for him
I did not have the same wisdom he offered me the night before

what happened?
in July when we first started on this whole adventure
going to both schools
I wanted him to have as much exposure to possibilities
as I could manage

early on, Bryan was told by an Admissions counselor
at Columbia College
that he would receive one of those scholarships
no doubt about it
was the attitude
I cautioned about holding onto that
but I held on ~ we both did

I see many mistakes on my part in retrospect
and I see what I perceive to be communication problems
at significant junctures along the way

we did not need to go through these last two weeks
the way we did
and all the details of the misleading messages
I cannot live through one more time right now

so on to the next road
we are in scrambling mode to pull together options
we are in learning mode and some of it hurts

it was not brilliant of me the way I handled everything
in my sadness there was a grief because I realized
that I was holding on to believing that Bryan's security
for four years was set
and four years to me in my position is a long time
if I could know that he was in a good safe place
an environment where he was "more than just a number"
as he would put it,
then somehow I was safe, too...

the drama will subside,
I will call a meeting to share our side of the experience
in case it could help some future family not have to go
through more anxiety than necessary - like letting us know...
I want to move on to finding the way to make
Bryan's next years inspiring

there will be a way

there is a new TV show coming out called "Touch"
and I find the premise intriguing
I need to get ready for work so I will let that go for now
yet there were basic ideas in the series pilot
that are helping me cope with this situation at hand

we will use this experience and learn from it
we will go through it
around it
inside it
tear it apart and not let it tear us apart
we will build on it
and I believe we will meet people meant to be met
and we will chart a course
get in the dirt and shovel the path
wipe the sweat off our foreheads
and laugh


because we will get through it:


Saturday, March 17, 2012

two weeks = too long

this has been the longest two weeks
my handling of the waiting to hear whether Bryan
has received a scholarship
or not
has not been the most inspiring example

the earliest any of the ten winners could expect to hear
was on March 4th (I believe that was the case)
with a public announcement on the 5th

Bryan came home from school on that Monday and happened
to check his facebook page
and saw GREAT NEWS for a friend of ours:
Lauren had won one of the five big scholarships
and the award happened at Hickman High that day at lunch
Bryan eats lunch in the Fine Arts building so he missed
the presentation
we felt happy for her and her family (Jeff's daughter / Jeff is a
part of our HMM group from years ago...)
and at the same moment realized that if one family had
been given news, perhaps all ten families had? and we had not

I watched Bryan's face and his spirit sink and a wave overcome him
and me, too
he realized in that instant how much he counted on winning
and how much he had grown to want to go to Columbia College
over the months of preparing for the competition and meeting
people along the way through the entire process
he had received such open support and encouragement
that it seemed certain that he would be included
I know that we both held a certain kind of reserve
created a certain protective coating and distance
in case things did not go as hoped...
we talked about not taking anything for granted
not being arrogant
not wanting to expect anything
and at the same time
hoping and hoping.

Bryan shared with me that he had begun to see himself there
and thought in terms of planning for his future - starting there...

then all of a sudden a silence
and the earth was not solid under our feet

I decided to email the Admissions Counselor who had guided us
every step of the way
to ask simply if all the winning candidates had been contacted
and what the timeline was for notification (if there was still hope)
I had not been clear about that from the outset
he emailed me back and explained that over the course
of the next two weeks - up until Monday March 19th - each individual
had a time slot allotted to him or her for the presentation
of the awards

I know what it is like to wait for things like cancer test results
or for my hair to fall out
or for whatever for me but this has been much harder by
light years
I want my sons' dreams to come true
if Bryan does not win a sholarship to this school
we cannot afford to send him there
and he will go to the University (an excellent school)
and he knows that he will do
his best to accept that ~
going to Mizzou is what Brandon wanted and it has been very good for him
Bryan is a different person...

I have literally gotten sick over this whole thing and
I am not proud of that fact.
Stress is not my best friend.
There is nothing we can do but wait.
Bryan did everything he could and I am proud of him no matter what
happens with this one award...

I have watched how Bryan has handled the pressure and am so impressed
I have apologized to him for not being the "more adult" under the
he has developed as a man in so many ways
there is a depth to him that I admire deeply

Brandon has been checking in on Bryan and the other night
Thursday night
I really appreciated his support for his little brother
Brandon was over at our house and we were talking about
this and that
and at some point in the conversation it came up that Bryan
was frustrated with his cell phone and wanted to get another one
but that would have to wait (another wait)

Brandon had a phone that he loved at one point
super duper camera capabilities, too, and for whatever reason
has another that he now uses, with the older one stored away
about a year ago or so Bryan had wanted to buy it from him
but that didn't happen...

long story shorter
Brandon all of a sudden said to Bryan:
"Okay, Bryan, I am going to give you your Birthday and Graduation present
early - I am going to give you my (fancy-dancy) cell phone!..."
Bryan's smile made the sun shine at night!
I was so thrilled for both of them.
we made it happen that the phone was in Bryan's hands that night
and after a couple of back and forths to Brandon's house to get
all the parts
Bryan had one piece of a happy puzzle in place

yesterday Bryan (who had charged the phone overnight)
brought it to school to show his girlfriend and friends
it is like entering the new millenium or something compared to his old phone
and when I picked him up at the career center at the end of the school day
Bryan got his first call on his new phone
it was from Brandon
who texted (almost exactly) "how's the new phone, CHAMP?"
and I was just so happy he called Bryan a champ.
I am crying now because he is and he needed to hear it

we do not know what will happen in terms of the scholarship right now
but we will know within the next couple of days
how we handle the news with Bryan
whatever it is
is meaningful to me
there is one thing that I can guarantee:
he will be surrounded by people who love him
and see him as a "champ" and we will carve a path together


Wednesday, March 7, 2012


what an amazing blast of a time - three nights
after weeks and weeks and hours and hours of practice
for the incredibly talented cast and crew

I saw the performance four nights in a row
the first time with Gary (Wednesday night final dress rehearsal)
as parents were able to go and take photos
so few came and so our applause and laughter really mattered
so of course I obliged

then on the opening night I went alone with hundreds of folks
and then the atmosphere was

watching Bryan dancing was just beyond words
he was smiling constantly and it was contagious!
his dance partner Nora was just perfect...
Olivia was fabulous a Rizzo, and her songs were absolute high points
huge applause every time
every night
so much to say about each and every player on stage
it was like watching a professional traveling troupe
Gary made that point after he saw the performance on Friday evening

Friday was with Gary and his mom and my friend Carla and her son Cameron
Saturday I went with Brandon and his girlfriend Mahdi
and behind us Bryan's teacher from middle school now a family friend forever
and her sister and children from out of town...
the theatre was PACKED with the biggest attendance
in over ten years - YES!

the standing ovations were like explosions of energy
and we felt like we were dancing with the stars

the friendships, traditions of the musical theatre life,
all of it was just an experience of a lifetime for Bryan and for me, too
it was hard for it to end,
although that level of craziness with long late practices can
only last so long and then there is school and regular life
yet we still find ourselves humming and beebopping
and holding on

at one point during the cast party they gathered in a circle
arms around each other, singing "piano man"
and crying their eyes out together
how great is that?
for the many seniors, their last time together
memories woven together, melted together
tears and laughter shared
they are free to feel and show it
Bryan expressed to his friend Mason Scott (played Danny)
how grateful he was for Mason's support...
endless stories...

now Bryan is singing all over the place to prepare for an audition
he has been asked to participate in for the musical RENT
there will be a student director and this will be in-house
for the musical theater class
I will not be able to see it
but that's ok
Bryan has found something very special in this world he has
discovered with his fine arts friends

on Saturday evening I had the immense honor of "accidentally"
sitting next to the mom of the brilliant Teacher/Director/Choreographer
of Grease
what a wonderful treat for my heart...

Ms. Robin Steinhaus will always have a special place in our hearts and lives
she is an amazing talent who knows how to bring out the brilliant shine
in young people
standing ovation for her
for my son in his jeans and black Converse All Star high tops
his prom suit and leather jacket
his orange hair and smile that wouldn't quit
for Olivia and her beauty & style, her command of the stage, her presence
and heart
an ovation for all the behind the scenes work, the musicians, the band leader,
Lindsey's beautiful job as Sandy
and on and on with each character so perfectly portrayed

on Saturday afternoon I got to meet Jessie who played "Frenchy"
and it felt like I was meeting a movie star! how fun

when Bryan ran to Brandon after the final performance and they
did their crazy hug and flying in the air flailing around routine
I laughed and held onto that moment

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


today is leap year day
so on the last day of February had to mention
a Valentine scene or two

Bryan was determined to get these incredible
chocolate covered strawberries for his girlfriend
we went downtown on a cold day, the 13th,
and The Candy Factory was an impressive sight!

it is magical in a Harry Potter sort of way as Bryan sees it
so many details come to mind...

I felt privileged to see the sweet things they did for each other
a lot of heart and meaning surrounding everything

on the 25th, they celebrated their 6-month anniversay
of dating

and they decided to go to Olive Garden with a gift card
they received from us at Christmas time
Bryan gave her a lovely charm bracelet made by one of his
best friend's Dad who is a jeweler here in Columbia
a specially engraved heart with the words:

"All Ways and Always"

he has always liked it when I used those words and asked me
if it was alright if he adopted them: Wonderful!

while they were eating their dinner
a teenager was with her parents eating across the way from their table
as she was leaving, she presented a paper to Bryan and Olivia
with a little cartoon she had drawn of them together
Japanese anime style which Bryan loves
she told them that they looked so cute together she just had to draw them!

that cartoon has been posted on Olivia's facebook page: so sweet!

that moved me so much that a young girl would take the time
to notice Bryan and Olivia, draw them, and give it to them personally
it says so much about all of them - and the girl's Mom was part of it, too!

on my desk in my office at work I stamped the saying:
"Live the Life you have Imagined."....

tonight is the big dress rehearsal for Grease that parents can attend
we are allowed to take photos tonight, not during the next three nights
of actual public performances
I can't decide if I want to got with Gary for this or not
part of me does
part of me wants to wait for the actual first performance tomorrow night

I have tickets for all three nights
and will attend with different people each night
what a fun time in his life!
what a fun time for all of us!

it was scary and then safe

several weeks ago
in the midst of being wound very tightly
Brandon came over to watch a movie here
I knew it would be a "guys night" kind of time
the movie not my kind of thing

called Drive

the ads made me nervous
Brandon is intrigued by films with edgy aspects
I still tend towards Singing in the Rain
so being tired anyway
I watched for a bit and knew I was at the edge of when it
would get intense beyond my desire to be part of it
went upstairs and fell asleep....


all I can recall was this awful noise
so loud and shocking
I started screaming in real life
and the difference between reality and cinematics
got all blurred
in my head I was back in time when Bryan was little
and there was an accident in the kitchen
a cabinet came off the wall
and I heard Brandon screaming Bryan's name

sleep at the time,
I ran into the kitchen and found Bryan
was inside the cabinet that had fallen on the floor
the door had opened and his little body fit inside
he was bumped but he was not crushed
I had screamed then, too...

that whole experience came rushing back and I was there
with my heart smashing inside of me
unable to differentiate what was going on from what had really
happened many years ago

downstairs in movie-land
the three guys at first thought that my screaming was part of the movie
so they were confused by my panic and calls to the boys
"are you alright? are you hurt?..."

"it's the TV, Mom. It's the movie. The sound got loud suddenly..."

I felt so sick and nauseous, heart pounding in painful memory
and a sickly relief came over me:
it was only a movie

then all of a sudden
there was a gentle knock on the door
I poked my head out of the blanket
there was a silhouette
my tall kind Brandon asking if he could come in

of course

and he sat at the edge of the bed and held my hand
he was all kindness and patience with me
his voice was soft and reassuring
he wanted to make sure I was alright
his being there made all the difference

he got up at one point and then sat down again holding my hand
a calm came to me

in reflection I realized the incredible power of gentleness
my son was taking care of his mother, once again,
and I remembered taking care of him over the years
the past, the present moment and a sweet glimpse into his future
he would be there for his wife, a little son or daughter who
perhaps will have a bad dream or a tough day and need a kind Dad...

I tend to relegate my fears to private rooms inside the cavern of my mind
a movie moment shattered the walls
and they came tumbling down

a man of kindness rescued me and turned the rubble
into soft clouds

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

cocoon time

trying to find a way to put into words
the past month(s) or so
the image of cocoon comes to mind
I had to look up how to spell it

this morning I go for treatment day
and will get a new med for the in-between time
during this chemo breaktime

just when I get a bit used to shifting away from
the past months, something new
yes, I am always grateful to have a new tool
or weapon to throw at cancer
and yes, it is quietly a bit scary to get into
new territory
not knowing how I will need to adjust to the side effects
that come along

I use the word "cocoon" to describe the last months
because I was able to go along to a certain extent
working, etc. and then essentially dropping off the grid
and onto the couch as soon as I would come home

it was hard to look into the mirror of my exhaustion
generally disappointed with myself
am I depressed?
is it helping to rest or
am I kidding myself trying to believe that?
the chemo was working as far as holding off any progression
and at the same time taking its toll on my energy

yesterday my friend Janet called at the office where I work
and I assured her that I was indeed ALIVE
in a cocoon-state of being
and would dedicate my next blog to her:
here it is!
I want to gently unwind this cocoon
and find a renewed sense of beginning-again

this morning Bryan and I ran out to the car to listen
to the radio
it is a whole story in itself
his sweetie Olivia and three other cast members
from the upcoming musical Grease were featured
on two different radio stations within minutes of each other
an interview on one station
a song on the other
Bryan will be dancing in his black Converse All Star sneakers
and on March 1, 2, 3
I will be tapping my feet in the audience

we loved every second this morning
sitting in the cold car together...

there are stories from Cocoon Land
that I kept in mind not to forget
sharing them will be part of unraveling the silk threads

Thursday, January 26, 2012

last Saturday

five days ago already
we have been preparing for months
Bryan participated in Scholarship Day at Columbia College
here in our city
what an incredible day it was

there are 10 scholarships being offered
five are for full tuition room & board and are worth almost $100,000 for four years
five are for full tuition and those are valued at $72,000 over four years
Columbia College is a wonderful small liberal arts college
when I was 45 years old I took an art class (printmaking) there and had a great time

Brandon was destined to become a "Mizzou man"
the university suits him really well and this Spring he will be getting
his Bachelor's in Health Sciences degree
Bryan's approach to his next level of school is different
they both wanted to be in Columbia and that was fine with me
I never wanted them to feel tied to staying here
for any reason
and wanted them to pursue their dreams in the way
they individually chose to do it...

Bryan and I visited both schools and had tours, etc.
his grades and test scores were sent to both
the heart of his experience was a beauty to behold
there he was wearing a full formal black suit for the first time
all sharp and confident from head to toe
there were heart-poundings once we were on campus
but those went away once the conversation in his interview flowed well
laughter and good stories shared help so much

the questions he was asked were meaningful and his answers straight from his heart to theirs
he had an hour to write an essay based on two questions
and I know his writing is very special
as a parent I went through a nice program learning about the college
and was very impressed
with this community of learning
catered breakfast and lunch were a touch of class
and it was so wonderful to see Bryan beaming as he walked back with
the other students to join their parents

all together there will be approximately 50 students competing for the 10 scholarships

the experience up until now has been such a growing one for us
the two letters of recommendation that Bryan received added so much to what he brought personally
to the table
there are three Scholarship Days total, one more to be held in February
and then the winners will be notified the first week of March

one day at a time
one step at a time
and as Bryan quoted a Chinese Proverb in his essay:

"A thousand mile journey begins with one step."

we shall see where this particular journey leads him and us as a family.
whatever happens at Columbia College we will learn from it and go from there
hope is a power-filled word
I hope for Bryan
I hope for Brandon
I hope that all together we give much
     laugh lots
     grow strong
     and most especially lovestrong

Thursday, January 12, 2012


yesterday was a big day for tests
PET/CT scan takes over two hours to complete
there was trouble with threading veins and I almost
fainted which was interesting since I am a veritable
pincushion after all these years

I do not understand all the tests and just do my
to follow the rules for eating and "water only"
and all the things that lead up to being on a table bed
and going through a huge donut
wrapped like a mummy
not moving a muscle

after the injection you sit still in a darkened room
for 45 minutes
and then under the donut...

I find it very peaceful on the other side of extremely
this machine is reading my insides
and will have a story to tell after I manage to sit up
and go to the other side of the building

I live these steps over and over
yesteday so many people were there it was very crowded
that can at times be demanding but this time it was
comforting because I saw many people
I have not seen in a while
and even though we would rather not see each other need
treatment or check-ups, etc. still we share a bond
that is profound and it is good to see that we are still alive
that is blunt and true

it is a long walk to my doctor's office when we will be looking
at scans together
our style is that we look at them together for the first time viewing
in other words, he generally does not pre-view them and then
give me whatever news there is to be given
we do it "live" action

bloodwork was good enough to allow chemo, good
then the computer gets set up for the trip inside of me
just minutes before I was getting the scan
all of a sudden I am looking at a "picture" of my ghostly
total self
and we are looking for what are called "hot spots"
places where cancer tumors exist
it is very distinct and for me very scary
on the five-inch version of me
there were no hot spots
and the doctor used the word "clean"
I had not heard that word before when looking at any kind of scan
over the past five-plus years

so I wondered what it meant
then he switched the screen perspective and we began
to take a trip through me
from the point of view of starting at my neck
and going through all of my major organs
it is a quick trip
and he smiled and used that word again: "clean"

no visible cancer tumors
I was stunned and quiet and wanting to make sure
I understood what he was saying and I was seeing
every single other time
there have been black spots meaning progression
this time... nothing

now, this does not mean that I do not have cancer
or that there are not cancer cells in my bones
but it does mean that the targeted chemo
is doing a powerful job
it means that at this time there is no progression of cancer
into soft tissue organs
and it means that all of the side effects are worth it

there is more time and there is more love to be shared
the people who have prayed and sent loving wishes
and hope
have given us a great gift
my doctor and nurses are an amazing life-team
and this morning that turned out to be a snow day
found Bryan and I peaceful happy campers at home

yes, I am half-bald, and eyelashless and feel somewhat whoozy and tired
overriding that is a gratitude
a fountain of grace-filled emotions and silent words
I thanked my body for fighting so hard
I thanked the chemo for fighting the fight
I thanked my 18 out of 20 finger and toenails for growing back
I thanked the eagle for soaring my way
I knew it was "big medicine" as my Mom's friend shared with us,
yet I do not understand it, just reflect upon it...

mostly I know that I am grateful for LOVE in LIFE
there is nothing greater
looking into the eyes of those I love
there is the cosmos of heart
that is home

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

it really was an eagle

a couple of weeks ago I stayed at work
about a 1/2 hour later than I needed to
just to talk with friends
in the middle of all the holiday stuff-goings-on

when I was close to our house
about to signal to take a turn
I glanced into the sky as a large shadow appeared overhead
and I absolutely was shocked to see a magnificent

bald eagle swooping in front of my car
the powerful white feathered head
incredible wingspan of brown feathers
the details of the white tail feathers and the golden beak
it was right there in front of me

I didn't know if I was really seeing what I was seeing
until having slowed way down
I glanced at the car behind me in the rear view mirror
making sure I was not going to cause an accident and then
noticed the other driver was animatedly expressing his wonderment
at what we had both just witnessed
yes, it really was an eagle

and 30 seconds, even 5 seconds either way
and I would have missed that moment...

my soon-to-be-97-year-old client
has an amazing collection of books on the topic of Birds
birds of America, Missouri, Birds as the subjects of paintings
and when I told him of my experience
we researched and found that yes there are bald eagles in Missouri
very precious and rare
at one time there were none at all
and then they were reintroduced and there are perhaps about 50-pairs
in the state

the experience lifted my spirits

I did get the heart stress tests done
results are good tests were crazy and I decided
to reevaluate all the meds I am taking and with my doctor's help
took two off my agenda
it has been a bit of a rough ride
a lot like going through withdrawal so I have heard
and even though I did it slowly
it still hit me rather hard
the last few nights I have been able to sleep
without the cold sweats hot flashes jitters and shakes
and oppressive exhaustion that rattled me

the pain that I am dealing with is being handled by the meds
I continue to take
I think it is good to take assessment time
and make new starts and stops

today was chemo day

there is a connection with eagles
but I am too tired at the moment to write about it

I do want to say that my heart soared at Christmas time
being with my family
how lovely to have my sons' girlfriends here with us
the meaning-filled gifts we all shared with each other
made me laugh and cry
and sigh with warm gratitude