Monday

Once in a Lifetime Pounds

We are down to less than 3 days before we head off to Europe - again.  We love traveling Europe.  I wish I could live in Europe.  We love to experience the food, the history, architecture, the food and the various cultures that are so very different than life here in the U.S.  And did I mention the food? 

Here is some advice on a more obscure preparation activity: weight gain.  Yes, you read that right.  I'm saving my pounds available to gain for France, Italy, and Spain!  The pounds gained in those countries surely are better than pounds gained here.  I can gain poundage here - anytime.  Any weight gain resulting from a European trip is truly special.  Each pound gained is a once-in-a-lifetime pound.  They are pounds I will never ever experience anywhere else.  With that philosophy in mind, it becomes very important to not gain any weight pre-trip that might minimize the actual trip poundage total available.  In fact, I recommend losing pounds just so you have poundage to gain in exotic locales.  When faced with excellent food choices pre-trip, I remind myself of the possibilities for truly exceptional pounds awaiting me just a few days away.  It definitely makes my food choices so much easier!

Sunday

Cancer Diagnosis - 1 Year Later

August 20th marked the one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. As the anniversary date approached, I found myself becoming emotional; I really wanted to say something to my family members who helped me through the hard times.  So, I had a BBQ dinner and asked them all over to join me.  After dinner I read a letter to them all expressing my thankfulness for their part in my life this last year. 

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Sometimes, though not often, I am at a loss for words. This is not one of those times. Here around me, I have the most important people on earth – to me. Each of you holds a special place in my heart, some of you for more years than others, but no less special. I can’t imagine life without any single one of you.


These last 12 months have been tough and stressful. I’ve had 4 surgeries, about 24 x-rays, 43 radiation treatments, 212 doctor appointments, one missed Utah vacation, a new job that started out very ugly, two new managers, and 1 birthday. But wait, that’s not all! I’ve had good stuff too, here’s naming a few of them: two new granddaughters, a fixed foot, a missing 15 lbs, a birthday, 2 new managers, a new healthier body, and a great vacation with the love of my life to look forward to.

I’ve learned a lot in this last year. I’ve learned how to lean on others, how to cry again, and how to open my heart to help when I need it (only when I need it mind you!). This is the first year in decades that I can remember crying for myself rather than someone else’s troubles. I feel I’ve just begun to realize what is really important in life. It’s not my job, it’s not trying to stay looking young, it’s not how many things I can accomplish while I’m on this earth. It’s about my relationships with all of you.

This is the year that I learned how very much I really needed you James. I can’t imagine how I could have made it through this year without you holding me up. I felt sad for people who don’t have someone like you to help them through something like this. I remember the days and nights where you’d just let me sit on your lap and let me cry. You were so very reassuring to me; your love strong and sure. I was amazed at your willingness to accompany me to MRI’s, surgeries, radiation treatments, and doctor appointments, and then to even sell your car so we could go on a long vacation together. It wasn’t just me that had cancer – WE had cancer. You’re amazing.

Mandy - you were the first person I cried in front of. I remember being at your house sitting on the edge of your bed and actually opening up to you and letting myself cry. You had a lot on your plate, but you still took time to hold me and comfort me. You also presented me with a wonderful little wiggly distraction when I needed it most. Thank you.

Ricky - you were very caring to call me often and just say “I love you”. You do that so well. There’s something about a son looking out for his mom, truly role switch after years of Mom looking out for her son, which I can’t put into words. You were, and are, a constant comfort to me. Thank you.

Dad - your caring words and just knowing you were there watching out for me every day, ready to be helpful in any way you could, was a comfort. While my independent self resisted, inwardly it was nice to know you had my back on anything from taking me to doctors, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping; anything. Thank you.

Linda and Rod – just the effervescent life that emanates from your house: little girls, house decorating, lawn mowing, work, school, and the like; sure helped keep me focused away from dealing with cancer and onto living and being active. You showed me that life can’t stop and Ali and Sierra’s young lives, full of laughter and joy, filled the air around here and blessed me. I know I can just really be me with you guys. I can be sad, happy, or just plain quiet and know I’ll be accepted just the way I am. Linda, the cancer necklace gift was like my charm. I view it as my badge of honor now. Thank you.

Daniel and Rosemary – Thank you for coming into my life these last few years as new family members. You each bring wonderful qualities that I cherish; I feel very blessed to be your mother-in-law. I know I don’t say it enough, but I love you and I am very glad you’re part of my family. You both have brought a lot of fun, humor, laughter, and joy to my life. I hope that as the years progress our relationship can grow stronger and be full of even more blessings.

I found my silver lining through this trial of a year. I found a tiny silver thread, and then felt the tug as I began to pull. The thread of these relationships, with you, became a strong cord that I was able to cling to as a life line. That beautiful piece of silver cord is now interwoven into the tapestry that makes up the picture of my life. Thank you so much for contributing so richly to me.

So this next 12 months is going to be better than the last 12 months. I can feel it. I know I’m starting it out pretty good! I aim to be healthier, less stressed, more available, less overworked, stronger, more prayerful, happier, and more loving, more worshipful, and above all, more thankful.



Thank you everybody. I love you.



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Several family members were not able to make the dinner, but would also like to send out a heartfelt thank you to them as well:
 
Shirley - you were so very thoughtful in making sure I had some great books to help me navigate the decisions I was facing.  You are a very caring and comforting person.  You're an amazing woman full of empathy and compassion. Thank you.
 
Stephanie - thank you so much for the wine in the pink cat cancer awareness bottle, and the books.  The bottle now sits in my bathroom full of bubble bath.  Thank you for coming over to spend some time with me and to help me out.  It was thoughtful and very sweet.  I look forward to running the 5K with you next year!
 
Janet - you hopped right in to help even though you live almost 3 hours away.  Thank you for loaning me your juicer and showing me the juicing "ropes".  Your willingness to drive on down and help out is amazing for a woman with as much on her plate as you have.  What a great sister!!
 
Thank you everyone for your love, comfort, support, encouragement, and prayers. 

Monday

THE WILD SIDE OF MY BETTER HALF

I wrote this after my first trip overseas with James.  As I prepare for my next trip with him, I had to dig it out and fondly remember what is in store for me.

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I’ve never spent more than 10 days alone, I mean really alone, 24x7, in the company of my husband. Now that wouldn’t be so significant if we were newly married, but we’re talking several decades as husband and wife, not to mention the fact that we knew each other since grade school days. Well, it wasn’t until 2004, after spending 37 days traveling through parts of Europe with him on The Big Trip and wondered exactly who is this man I married?

I guess I’m na├»ve, though I shouldn’t be surprised. There have been hints it before when we’ve gone on trips. It starts with the countdown. I can attest to that since the original countdown to our wedding and subsequent honeymoon. See, according to him you can’t count the current day and you don’t count the day you leave. So, depending on what time of the day you actually leave, you can shave off two days from the countdown right from the get-go. We’ve even had instances where we’ve been able to lop off almost a whole week. Vacations never got here so fast. I’ve tried to convince him to count how many more “wake-ups” we have before we leave. But apparently that is a flawed calculation technique. Of course this counting method is nowhere to be seen once you’re on vacation. There’s no fun in that. But now that I’m thinking of it, I’m going to try that next time we go somewhere. I can just hear it now:

“Hey Hon! Guess What? We only have 3 days left. You better start packing to go home.”

“What!! We just got here. What are you talking about?”

“Well, you can’t count today, and you can't count (insert miscellaneous and ludicrous logic here) whatever you do, don’t relax!”

Anyway, he’s one of Those people. You know the ones I’m talking about. It’s Those people who set their clock 15 minutes fast so when the alarm clock rings they can sleep in. They drive the rest of Us people - nuts. We know they’re fooling no one, but they blissfully ignore your attempts at logic, happy in their private deceptions. Well, God Bless ‘em.

So my master prevaricator begins his countdown usually weeks, if not months before the actual D-Day. The closer we get the more excited and talkative he becomes. He can’t sleep and he recounts the days just to make sure he hasn’t miscalculated. I’ve gotten emails at work from him with a cryptic “38 more days!!” when, in fact, we won’t leave for another 40. Silly man. He also begins packing days before I’ve even thought to pull out the luggage. Thankfully, prior to “The Big Trip,” he was working so hard to finish a construction project that he had no time to get too imaginative.

I noticed the first sign of distressingly aberrant behavior only a few days into our trip. We had left Frankfurt and were headed towards a small town on the Rhein River, Bacharach. James got downright randy; first a playful bump, then a grab or two, a pinch, and by noon – outright groping. Now I’m great with affection, but when there’s a surprise bout of forced tonsil hockey while in line for a train ticket, I decided I had to take action and headed for a miniscule gift stand some 50 feet away.

But wait, that's not all!  Not only was he being frisky, he started up the incessant talking; mostly questions actually.

“I wonder how many boats go up and down the river each day?”

“What do you think would happen if that guy there with the bad rug stuck his head out of the window? We could call him The Rooster! Remember the movie where John Wayne was called Rooster Cogburn?”

And my personal favorite: “I’ll bet this hill is 2000 years old” to which, interestingly enough, someone nearby argued was probably actually 4000 years old and the one next to it was at least 6000.

The whip cream on this particular sundae is his habit of reading aloud all the signs he sees. That is somewhat annoying driving around parts of the city we live in day in, day out, but when you’re in a foreign country, it sounds downright ridiculous. Oh, and did I mention that he has a loud voice? Think about the foreign pronounciations too.  It was quite funny - at first.

I thanked my Heavenly Father I had remembered to bring my MP3 player. I left our train compartment to escape for a few moments and dug around in my backpack for it. I stuffed those little ear-bud-headphone-type-things into my offended canals so tight that I was worried I’d have to find an apothecary store and buy tweezers in order to extract them later. Forward thinking that I am, I dug out my German phrase book and began to look for words to help me with that purchase. Hmmm, no tweezers listed. I picked the best alternative I could find and committed it to memory: “haben sie eine zahnstocher?” Or, “do you have a toothpick?” I figured I could stab the spongy part and simply pull them out. Though, I would have to be careful since I had always been told by my parents not to ever put anything smaller than football in my ear; like I’ve listened to that piece of advice given I’d been using ear buds, cotton swabs and shoved various and sundry other things in my ears for years (the eraser end of pencils work well if you’re trying to think). Anyway, if the clerk still couldn’t fathom my request, I decided to resort to mime by pinching my fingers and pantomime a painful eyebrow plucking session. Yeah, that should work. With that dilemma solved, I rejoined the ongoing monologue in our train compartment, activated my player and settled down, ever hopeful of a peaceful journey at last.

Unfortunately, the batteries were dead. I bobbed and weaved with the beat anyway. How was he to know the only tune I was hearing was the thump thump of my own pulse pounding in my ears? I could hear him chattering away to God knows whom.