Saturday, April 24, 2010

my grandmother...

As I sit here in the coziness of my home with thunderstorms all around me I am moved to write about my grandmother.  Today, like many times past, she has absolutely floored me.  I am in awe of her gentle yet  tough spirit and today was no exception.  Whew, I don't know if I can even write this without tearing up. 

About 3 months ago she moved out of her home of over 20 years to an assisted living home.   She went from being a totally independent busy woman to one who's pain was so bad that she wanted to just stay home and be in bed--seems almost as if overnight.  She isn't a complainer, and has approached life lately with a "whatever" attitude, which seems to go a long way.   But it got to the point where she needed to complain and get some help.  She's since had back surgery and is on the road to recovery.  Her goal is to walk unassisted again. 

This weekend she joined her 3 children, 2 of her grandchildren, and spouses at her old home to go through her things and watch as her possessions were divied up amongst us.

Shortly after I arrived Patty walked in the kitchen with a stack full of yellowed letters all neatly saved in a ziploc bag.  They were love letters that grandma had saved to and from she and my grandpa--"Poppy".  What a beautiful love affair those two had--ahhh, what a life.  And to hear how lovingly she still talks about him. She asked me today, as we poured over memories of him-"will I ever stop missing him?"    It breaks my heart, but makes it swell at the same time that she had such a wonderful partner to go through life together with.  He passed away on their 50th wedding anniversary family reunion celebration weekend.  If there is a god, he couldn't have planned that one better.  He left grandma surrounded by her entire family--a family that she would drop anything else she ever had going on just to be with. 

So we all spent the time packing, moving, hustling and bustling, and she was there, full of grace.  She had moments where emotion would overtake her, but she would move through the tears, and say she just needed to get it out and then she was fine.  Grace, grace, grace...that word just keeps popping up in my mind because I was just blown away by how it just flowed from her.

Here were her worldly possessions, full of memories, yet she released attachment to them and seemed, for the most part, fine with what a major thing this was. 

She told me as we were holed up in her closet going through all of her scarves (I love scarves, and learned that I come by that naturally...) that each decade of her life (she's lived 8 now) has brought its own joys.  She says she looks forward to what joy the 90s will bring.  Always the optimist, that is my grandma. 

My grandma has always had a strong and loving presence in my life.  And I am so grateful for that.  I am grateful for the time I have shared with her and the time that I still have left with her.  She is a role model for me, and her positivity is inspiring. 

Well, time to sign is hard to type through tears. 

I love you grandma.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring has sprung

It is a glorious spring morning in Georgia as I sit here and sip my weekend cup of coffee, with Pandora--Aretha Franklin radio and Curtis keeping me company.  Michael had to work this morning so I've been putzing around the house and just enjoying feeling alive.  I've made the morning rounds to the garden, and our spring peas are coming along nicely.  Cucumbers are just beginning to poke their heads out of the ground, and the radishes are trying to give it their all. The trees are blooming, and our yard is bursting with every color of the rainbow.   It is sunny and crisp, and just overall so pleasant and invigorating. 

In a week my women's circle begins.  I am so excited for this.  I've longed for a circle like this since I left Athens and that beautiful community of women there.  I'll never forget the thrill I felt during yoga class those many months past at Zen Tea, our local tea shop.  I was surrounded by women, and it struck me--yes!  I can make this happen!  Let's do this here, and create this community!  So I did it, and I've got a group of 10 women, some I know, and some I don't but will soon.  I've been dreaming about this circle each night this week as I've been planning and reading and preparing for it.  I always awaken feeling happy. 

Michael and I started Boot Camp at work this week.  It is subsidized by Metametrix, and is directly after work, so it makes it SO easy to attend.  Although--the workout itself is anything but easy.  We've been laughing all week about how sore we are!!!  You should see us get in and out of the car.  But, it feels good to move the body again and it also feels good to know that I can do it!

Another thing that started this week was my menses! I share only because you've journeyed with me during this adventure and know that that was a major stress for us, and the reason why we decided to stop chemo early.  So we are feeling relief for the return of my femininity.  Now let's focus on that clean PET scan in June!!

My final thoughts for the morning come back to our honeymoon.  We had an amazing time--it was probably the most relaxing vacation we've ever been on.  There was lots and lots of relaxing on the porch of the Aerie overlooking the marsh.  We played scrabble, rummy, cooked delicious food, and watched Moulin Rouge again ("the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return"....sigh....). I read a lot.  We did make it to the beach everyday--something Curtis absolutely loved!  The last time he was at Kiawah his knee was injured and he couldn't walk very well. It was nice to see how far he has come after his two knee surgeries this year.  He ran and chased those birds just like he was a puppy again.
On Wednesday morning we got up at 5 am and drove an hour north to launch the canoe at the Isle of Palms for our 6 mile canoe trip to Capers Island. We put in just at dawn, and the water was like glass, with the occasional dolphin playing at dawn. It was magical.  We made it to the island around 9 and spent the rest of the day relaxing in the hammock and taking in the simple beauty.  After a fire and a magical night outdoors, we returned the next day to more relaxing at the Aerie on Kiawah.

We finally visited Angel Oak, which is just stunning (see below--look for Michael!).  Friday night we went to a concert on the square, and Saturday night we went to Cassique to soak in the hot tub and enjoy a romantic dinner at sunset with the most delicious food!  It was the perfect end to the perfect honeymoon.
(angel oak)
 (I made fun of Michael because he smiles funny in this was his response...)
 (the picnic basket and wine was a honeymoon gift from my dear friend Karen from the clinic. The basket was FULL of goodies, she totally spoiled us so I was happy we could use it on our honeymoon.)
(our view from dinner Saturday night)
So those are my thoughts this beautiful Saturday morning.  I hope you all enjoy this weekend!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The beginning of the rest of our lives

So I've been quiet here for a really really long time.  It's actually been a nice vacation from internet land these past few weeks.  Last week we spent honeymooning totally unplugged from technology, and that was soooooo nice.  Now I am crawling out from that and ready to share with you the goings on inside my head.

First of all, I feel like I should have written the day it happened, because it was beautiful.  ING race weekend...and sharing that experience with my Husband, Karen, and Rebecca.  The symbolic beauty was touching, and filled with emotion.

Michael has been a sturdy beam of support throughout it all.  He's been there from the very beginning...that morning where I woke him up at 6am the day of my bridal shower and forced him to surf the internet with me trying to make sense of my symptoms and what it could possibly be.  He was there at my primary care physicians office with the bad news.  He held my hand through it all, and continues to be there for me--for better or worse, right?

And Karen...she was there with me the night it dawned on me that I might have Lymphoma those many moons past, and on the eve of my wedding, at my blessing way, she gifted me the promise that she'd run the half-marathon in my name with the Team-in-training group for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  And she DID it!!!  She, with the help of so many of you, raised a lot of money for this group to help those with blood-borne cancers.  Karen truly rocks, and I am so lucky to have been able to call her friend for over 25 years!!!

And then there is Rebecca.  Karen connected me with her when I found out about my diagnosis.  I was scared, and it was so nice and incredibly comforting to be able to talk to someone who had gone through the same thing.  Over lunch at the Flying Biscuit I got to hear her story, and to see how she has been cancer-free for 10 years now, with two beautiful children and a loving husband to boot.  She's healthy, and happy.  She is my inspiration.

I remember her telling me, while I was a crying mess, that the beginning was the hardest part--the coming to grips with the fact that you have cancer.  I didn't fully understand that when she said it to me, but now, having gone through it, I do.  August was one rough month, really the toughest I have had to date in my life.  Rough.  And yes, going through chemo wasn't a walk in the park, but it was what it was--we were beating the enemy and winning!!   

So here I find myself, after 6 months of accepting, treating, and beating cancer, with these three people at 6 in the morning in Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta.  It was a blustry morning, with the threat of rain, but the energy in the air was amazing!!  Thousands of people were buzzing about in anticipation of this race--a race that was run for so many different reasons. Here is her story about the experience: 

So that was an amazing start to the beginning of the rest of our lives!!!!

And then we headed off to our honeymoon... and it was....perfect...