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