Long Day, Long Week

It’s Saturday. Glad for the weekend.

I haven’t seen one ball game of Gavin’s for a very long time. Today , I get to see two. 9 and 11. I look forward to it, far more than you can probably believe.

My brothers will look after Mom over the weekend. It works well. They are so easy to work with. The three of us are a good care team.

Last weekend, Memorial Day weekend, was the unofficial summer start. We have had a couple of days hot and humid so far, and we will have many more ahead. It’s time. And I have some baseball to catch up on.

It’s so hard to believe Gavin will be 11 this year. He loves baseball, and I love to watch him play. It’s great. Best fun I’ve had in years.

My oldest played Little League ball. He was a skilful player at 10, just like Gavin. His dad coached, but that was when we separated, and his dad refused to pick him up for practice and games. I had to work until 5 every day, and did not get home in time to take him to practice or play games. His dad wouldn’t since it I filed for divorce. His dad was the coach. My son told me he could forgive his dad for everything else but baseball. I’m so happy my grandson doesn’t have that situation.

The rest of the weekend? I will spend time with the Babe. We haven’t seen each other much this week. We have a lot to catch up on. I feel so lucky to do that. There are a lot of husbands who wouldn’t have it if their wife needed to tend to her mom. Mine knows family is everything and knows we all have only one Mom. I’m a lucky woman.

You know, we have a lot of things to do to finish preparing for summer. I’m so sad there will no longer be a specialty nursery in Gretna who raises seed planted Geraniums for summer and poinsettias for Christmas. I should be able to re-start the geraniums every spring, for as long as I want. It will be wonderful to have those same plants, year after year. Such a keepsake.

We have some things to take care of this weekend; hope you get to enjoy yours. Have a great Saturday! See you tomorrow.

Built in 1952, Still Going in 2023!

Some days, it’s going strong, some days it’s a stroll. And that is more than ok.

Spending my birthday today, the way I want. On the patio and on the deck, depending on the sun/heat. Going to find a cake with delicious buttercream frosting. Going to eat all four corners of it. It’s my favorite piece. And of course, ice cream! Thinking about what kind I would like. The possibilities are limitless.

It will be a surprise until I find the perfect thing. An adventure in shopping. Yep. We’re worth it. I’ll stop by and see how Mom is doing; she’s wanting to stay home, only, and not go for a haircut or anything. Mental note to call the beautician. OK, will do. The Babe is cooking steaks on the grill, and that’s just fine by me. It’s all about the cake on your birthday, anyway. I love birthdays, a day to celebrate you. Not like Christmas or Thanksgiving, it’s a day about who entered the world that day.

While your person is recovering after the cancer treatment, and from the cancer treatment, we need to be open for what they feel up to and don’t. It can change from minute to minute. It’s hard when they can’t decide, then they decide isn’t what they really wanted. Their minds are all over the place, and if they’re elderly, they’re worrying they won’t be able to stay in their homes. Yes, it’s an adventure. It gets better, though.

We’ve been so busy with Mom, I have had little chance to think about the significance of turning 71 this year. Life is becoming even more important to me than it was before. It is fragile, yet reinforced. It is long, yet too short. And it goes by too quickly. Ask anyone at any stage of life. We all have stories.

Sharing our stories helps other become informed of what could be ahead of them. No, no two cases are the same, no two patients are the same. Yet, some tips from everyone may be helpful to those who feel adrift at sea. You’re not alone, we’re all ready to listen and offer you and your friend or loved one what we learned and what helped us. We’re stronger together, all playing a part in this journey.

Have a beautiful day today. Help me celebrate today, have an ice cream cone or a cupcake. I appreciate it! And just have fun. See you tomorrow!

Brother Steve Had a Birthday

on May 16. #65, how can that be?

Happy Birthday, little brother, Steve. You came into my life as I was finishing kindergarten; in 1958. I don’t remember what it was like when Mom was pregnant with you. Those sorts of things were magical. We didn’t know the details. All I knew was at Dad’s announcement, we had a little brother. I didn’t know we could pick which gender we wanted. I learned three years later I couldn’t pick. They made nothing but boys. At least in our family, that was true.

Yesterday, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. Like the new kid in town. Like I was in a vacation town, just off the interstate.

I had some errands to do. The Babe wanted to do the yard, so I set out on my own. I haven’t been by myself in over six weeks. I’d drive to Mom’s, but she’d be with me for the rest of the day. Yesterday, I wasn’t picking up any passengers. I went to the bank in Gretna. The nursery in town, introduced to us by the Leavitt’s seven summers ago, is closing at the end of the summer. The owner is retiring.

I am really going to miss them. They have so many beautiful varieties of geraniums. Ivy geraniums, in hanging baskets, are outstanding. Photos later, after planting. I hoped to go to them for as long as I can plant. I’ll just have to over-winter them from now on. The Babe’s aunt taught me how to do that. I’d never heard of it before. Yet, here we are, doing it year after year. Thanks, Aunt Jo.

As I went from one place to another, two in Gretna, two in West Omaha, I could not believe the amount of building done during the past six weeks. Several homes built, streets poured and set up, many more being prepped. How much things have changed in such a short time!

It goes to show,how much life keeps going on, no matter if we’re paying attention or not. I felt much the same whenever I’ve had major surgery and spent six weeks or longer recuperating. This made me realize for the umteenth time in my life, time really travels at the speed of sound. I still marvel at the growth happening in our small town. Good and bad. A wonderful park/water park/baseball fields/and dam-site is going in close to where we live. Should help with our resale value. The Babe said he’ll be dead before they get the dam filled up with water, so he’s not worried about noise, traffic, and the negative part. I should be gone by then, too.

Have a beautiful Wednesday, friends. We’ll see each other tomorrow.

The Day After the Last Treatment

Mom’s treatment ended yesterday. It is a strange feeling already. No cancer doctor appointment until later in the summer. No further testing until labs and scans completed next month. Wow! Now what do we do?

You get so wrapped up in the daily treatments, planning your life around them, and you can’t think further ahead. What will fill your time now?

The Babe and I are lucky. We have plenty to do at home. Yes. Despite living there for 8 years, we never got settled in. Now we have book cases to fill in the lower level, and finding new homes for all the ones I no longer want to keep. I’m going to find the library in Gretna and see if they’re open to donations. And the high school may or may not want books on quilting and sewing. Who knows? The kids may want to learn something old but new to them.

The stats are looking good this month for the blog. We have published nearly 1,314 blogs daily since we started, and we notify 1,097 people each time a new one goes live. Thanks, friends! Let’s keep growing, ok? Help a girl out. Thank you! Share with your friends, your mom, aunt, even your tech savvy grandma. There’s room for men, too. Your secret is safe with me!

As we dive further into the week, take a little time to reconnect with your friends. Just a text, email, or phone call. They’ll love hearing from you. We’re planning on doing the same thing. Get out there, and Live a Great Story!

Mother’s Day Thoughts – 2023

A brief break today on cancer, but I’m still writing 30 minutes a day for the American Cancer Society Challenge to write 30 minutes a day for the 31 days of May. I’m raising funds for Cancer Research to honor mom and all the other friends and family who have endured treatment and this terrible disease.

Mother’s Day, like Christmas, is a holiday that can really stir a lot of memories – both good and bad.

It reminded me of that fact when I got up today. The Babe let me sleep until I woke up, which was about 8:45. I haven’t slept that long in forever. I got a cup of coffee and saw a stain on the carpet. One dog was sick. Oh boy. At least I got extra sleep!

The contrast of that start to my day reminded me of the contrasts mothers have with this holiday. It’s a hot button.

Some moms make their children’s lives miserable if we do not honor them to the hilt on this day. Flowers, dinner out, expensive greeting cards. Our mom wasn’t like this. After we were on our own (at least I was) she said it was her day, so she bowled in the state bowling tournament. Many women had family plans. She said she wanted to spend the day her way. And that was ok. It’s what she wanted.

Ok, in one way she was right. We’d always go to Grandma T’s for breakfast/brunch after church, then home for the kids to nap. I remember one year, my first husband was playing basketball with the neighbor’s grown kid, sprained his ankle, and I had to take care of him instead of enjoying a day off from the cooking. Fat chance! Oh well.

I also have a memory that is sweet. One year, the father of my kids scrambled eggs for breakfast in bed. The kids carried my plate upstairs and dropped them off on the carpet. They picked the eggs up and didn’t tell me until after I ate them, they fell on the floor. All I could do was laugh.

Every family has that one kid who will rat everyone out. Mine was middle child, Nick the narc. He had glasses and huge brown eyes. Looked like a little bug. Sweet child, but a rat. As a mom, you love them all. Frankie, Nick, and Becky, you were my life for so long. It was lonely when you went off and found your own place in life. Proud of all of you.

A chef, a truck driver, and a radiology tech/assistant turned mom. They are all good people and have very different personalities. It’s been a ride. Being a Mom is all I ever wanted to do. Being a Grandma is a bonus, especially being a bonus grandma! To Addison, Joell, Gavin, and especially Kayla and Cody: love all of you, and it’s wonderful seeing you all grow up.

My step-kids are the best, and I love them as I love my own. We all met as adults, and they’ve been very gracious to me and took time to know me, and I know they love me.

This is a big day today, Mom’s last radiation and oral cancer treatment! And now, we wait. One of the hardest things to do. We will make a new schedule now and decide how Mom wants to spend her time. Hopefully, she’ll be able to sit out and look at the flowers our youngest brother planted in her flower pots. It’s a tradition they have, and it’s nice. She appreciates it a lot. Hope your Monday is great, and you have something to celebrate. We do. See you tomorrow!

ACS Challenge-31daysx30 minutes

Over the years, one thing standing out among all the achievements in cancer treatment is fewer people are dying from it. Treatment helps you not only kick cancer, but is also helps you have more birthdays. Some of us might not, I understand that, too.

One thing some people do is procrastinate getting the diagnosis. They don’t want to ruin Christmas, or your birthday, or anniversary, so they put off the visit to the doctor. They delay the scans. Work is always a great excuse. Trust me, if you work for a company with health insurance and/or PTO, you can certainly miss an hour to have this important test. Your life may depend on it. Too blunt?

Sorry, not sorry if it is. The whole point I’ve learned over the years is something ACS hammers home every chance it gets: Early Detection Saves Lives.

Please, get those diagnostic tests.

Some people with cancer the Babe and I know diagnosed early had much better chances of survival after treatments. Some cancers, hard to detect, are advanced staged at diagnosis. The Babe’s ex-wife Sandy was one of these people. We were all friends, and Sandy and I became good friends during her illness. I was home during the day, and when she felt up to it, we’d go to a movie or have lunch during a weekday. I treasure that friendship. She, given 6 months to live, lived a life full of love from her kids and grandkids. And she lived two years longer than expected. She enriched all of our lives. Miss you, my friend.

Sandy’s sister Sharon, diagnosed with the same cancer as Sandy, died the next spring. Their mother died in 1988 from the same cancer. Sad situation all the way around. Sharon’s husband, Lou, began inviting us to have Christmas dinner with him, with the Babe’s daughter Tracy, TJ, Addison and Gavin. It’s become an annual blessing. The Babe worked for Lou at Watkins Concrete Block Co, Inc. until they both retired. A very kind man, with a big heart. Miss them both now.

We’ve known two people diagnosed with kidney cancer. They both underwent kidney removal surgery. Later on, cancer appeared in a nearby location, and the fight was on. The cancer, and other factors, resulted in the loss of another friend. The other person, the Babe’s Mom Liz, had the kidney removed and not more cancer. She passed from complications from MS. Bless her, too. Miss her every day.

For about seven or eight years, it seemed that’s all we knew, one friend after another; lost to cancer.

The loss to our family of my sister-in-law Laura was equally as devastating as the loss of our dad.

Married to my brother Tim, Laura was a sweetheart since kindergarten. Yes, kindergarten. Their lives went different ways, but they remained in touch. Laura married after high school, divorced with one child. She remarried, was pregnant, and her husband died of cancer. Two little children, a girl and a boy.

She wed again, had two more boys, and this husband committed suicide. Dear God, this could be a movie plot. And it’s absolutely true. Alone with four children. My brother re-entered her life.

It was a roller coaster much of the time. They were intent on changing each of their lives, and learning a better way to live and raise the children. After several years of marriage, they diagnosed Laura with oral cancer. Her brother passed from it as well. Now, Laura suffered the same fate.

To help my brother, I spent a lot of time with her. He was trying to work his job, save his time off for when he absolutely needed it, and run the house, keeping track of the kids. Hard enough for two people, much less for one with a day job. She was in and out of the hospital, feeding tube, massive weight loss, chemo and radiation, and she stayed positive. We talked a lot about heaven, God, and forgiveness. She and I were distant over a misunderstanding for a long time. Her illness and my love for my brother helped heal that issue, and I’m grateful for what I learned from her.

Mend your fences, folks. Take it from one who knows. You don’t want to run out of time. Love you, sister! See you in heaven, someday.

Both women added to my life and my understanding of others. So grateful for their friendships and the memories I have with them. Make some memories today. See you tomorrow.

The Worst Year of My Life – Part 2

1988, as we’ve been talking about yesterday and today was the worst year on record for me. So far. You never know. If you didn’t get to read Part 1, click above, and take a minute to read. I’ll wait.

So that brings us up to September, 1988. Several cancer-related deaths of friends, family, and others make for a hard year. And it wasn’t over yet.

Dad retired in July 1988, and was enjoying not going to work, especially on Saturday nights during football season. Before e-mail for photos, etc., if there was a Saturday night game in Lincoln, Nebraska, the film had to be driven up from Lincoln, processed, then printed for the paper on Sunday. They were proud of their color photos of the Huskers.

The delay meant an extra long night for the pressroom. Dad told us about that at a late celebration for Mom’s birthday, at my home with the kids. It was a Saturday night, and the first football game of the season. I’ll never forget hearing him tell us how glad he was to not be working that night.

Dad didn’t feel well for the rest of September. He had an ache in his side. He thought it was a pulled muscle. It seemed to get worse. He found out he had lung cancer on October 20, my oldest son’s birthday. We felt crushed. My kids weren’t seeing their dad much, and Dad was a great male role model to them.

I remember again what Dad said. Let’s wait to worry until we find out what we’re dealing with. Expert advice, but so very hard to do. It’s something we try to do when we learn of another diagnosis, friend, family, or neighbor. Don’t desert your people. Yes, it’s hard, but being isolated because your friends are uncomfortable is not good. They need you, and especially now.

Of all days Dad could of died, it was December 7, 1988. A day of infamy. Absolutely.

There are constant reminders of Dad everywhere that first year. In less than a month, we had the first Christmas and his first birthday (January 1) without him. It was all uphill from there. We were all so sad; this great man who never had a vacation missed his trip of a lifetime. His Blackhawk Division was due to go on a tour of Europe that spring. Seeing the sights they saw as young men in combat.

He’s missed graduations, weddings, births, and other deaths. He was only 64 when he died. So unnecessary. Like most men his age, he was a lifelong smoker. That, and the work environment at a newspaper, probably left lots of stuff in his lungs that were constant irritants. Many of his fellow pressmen also died of lung cancer in the years that followed.

I don’t know if any of you survived years longer than your parent(s) did, but it is a strange feeling. I’m 71 this month; when I was 65, I spent a lot of time thinking about how short Dad’s life was. It seriously robbed him. I know we won’t all live forever, and some folks live longer than others. It’s frightening. It left me with all kinds of unresolved feelings. I think what made it worse since I had kids to comfort, and had no one to comfort me. Loss is so hard when you’re alone.

Cancer played a huge part in the worst year of my life. Big losses in a short time. After Dad died, I had one thing to be grateful for. I didn’t have a self-centered boyfriend to contend with. That was a great blessing. And now, I can look back and see how God makes some changes in your life to help with what is coming. We might not understand it, but He does. And I’m glad.

That year taught me a lot about myself. And about life. I’d never want to re-live it.

May 5, 2023 – ACS 31 x 30

Good morning, friends! We are on day 5 of writing 30 minutes a day for the 31 days of May. How’s your world this morning? 

Mom’s not doing too well this morning, so I went over early, and she’s napping. It’s interesting, she didn’t want a recliner/chair to help her stand up. Boy, she’s just loving it now. 

That’s another thing you learn while helping someone who is aging and ill. Change is so difficult. They just want to have some control over something. It’s not unusual for any of us. They’re vulnerable, afraid, and just want something to be the same for them. Don’t we all? 

Those of us who are open to change and consider it necessary may have a hard time dealing with that attitude. From our point of view, sure, it seems to make sense, you’re over 90 years old, you can’t do most things as you used to, limitations are making your world so much smaller. No one likes that. And it happens so quickly.

It’s hard to watch them struggle, and hard to know if they want help with simple things or if they want to do it themselves. A few days ago, Mom told me she was going to do a couple of odd minor tasks. She said, “If I need you, I’ll let you know.” I try to keep it at that level. 

And here’s another it’s hard to believe we saw this moment:

After parking the car at the pickup circle, I brought Mom out in the wheelchair to get her loaded in the car. I parked behind an original 1976 Firebird Trans Am, complete with t-tops, which were off for the beautiful day.

“Does she have hearing aids?” 

“Yes.” We didn’t know what to expect then.

“I’ll wait until you get her in the car to start my car. It’s very loud, and I don’t want to hurt her ears.”

How nice of them! Can you believe it? You can find people blessing one another in unusual ways. Humans are pretty good, after all.

After parking the wheelchair back inside, another elderly person walked out with his family. It was obvious he had hearing aids, too. I smiled to myself. I leaned close to the ladies in the Trans Am and said, “Girls, you could be here for a while.” 

They laughed and told me, “We just said the same thing. I’m going to put it in neutral and roll down to the thru lanes to exit and then fire it up.” She sure knew how to start that baby. It’s rare you find anyone, much less a lady, who knows how to do that. It did my heart proud of all the girls out there. Smooth as silk!

In your journey through life, and not just cancer, things appear each day that are unexpected. We should pay attention if we’re able, and be grateful for the respites, especially during a hard day, or morning, afternoon, or hour. 

And her passenger was picked up in style from her cancer treatment. What a treat, for all of us.

May Day, 2023

Do they still call May 1 May Day? I wasn’t sure. I never heard of leaving May Baskets for people until I got older.

The focus at my Catholic school/church was Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus. They devoted the entire month to her in prayer, acts of kindness, and event, May Crowning. They placed a flower crown on the statue of Mary on the left altar of the Church. Mr. Severin installed a removable set of stairs with handrailing for a chosen 8th grade girl chosen to do the honors. All the girls wanted to be chosen. Mary Jane Trummer was the one for our class. I was extremely disappointed. Oh well, win some, lose some.

Also at the Catholic school, we learned in Russia; they had a large military parade, flexing their muscles and strength for all the world to see and take note. As a counter, the United States celebrated Law Day. It is a day for celebrating the rule of law in the United States, land of the free, and the home of the brave. We hold many mock trials in courtrooms throughout the country to teach young people how important real justice is.

I’ve mentioned before, I’m taking part in a challenge for the American Cancer Society. I’m writing for 30 minutes a day as part of the challenge. I’m looking forward to doing it as a re-start for me to pick up with my children’s book. It’s been too long!

While announcing the fundraising part of the challenge, one is supposed to invite friends to join or share your info and donate. I went down the list of 259 friends and reflected on how many of them were no longer living. Cancer took many. Too many friends, too many relatives, too many deaths.

I did not invite everyone. I don’t like to bug people; you know? The best thing you could do? Be aware. Get all of your exams as soon as you’re old enough. Colonoscopies are necessary, folks. They’re not as involved as they used to be. All things considered, if you’d like to donate, please do. Invited or not.

I think I might do my30 minutes and the blog in the morning, before the day gets away from me. Subject to change, of course. It’s time to shake off the cobwebs and get some things done. Amen!

This is a great month! The Babe and I have birthdays two days apart, and we celebrate Mother’s Day. We also observe the national holiday of Memorial Day. It will be a busy month as well.

Have a great May Day today and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

American Cancer Society 30 Day Writing Challenge

Beginning May 1, I am taking part in this challenge. Of the six people in my immediate family of origin, three of us have had cancer. Dad died from lung cancer. Mom had oral cancer back in the early 90’s and was cancer free with surgery. Now, Mom has cancer again. Just passed the halfway mark of treatment. And I had breast cancer. Nearly everyone will be diagnosed with it during their lifetime, if we live long enough. Wow!

Therefore, I took part in the fundraiser. It’s more about what it symbolizes than about money. The cancer society raises a lot of funds. I will post it on my Facebook page over the weekend, and share it then. It’s a pledge on my part to write 30 minutes a day. It will be a good thing.

I told Mom I was suspending work on my book until we find out what other treatment she may need. She told me not to. It would be good for me to work on it and have a distraction from the illness and all parts of it. Thanks, Mom. And thanks for teaching all of us to read by reading to us as kids. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

It’s a short one today. The week has been very stressful and I’m bone-weary. So much to catch up on, so much to do. We will get through all of this, in God’s good time. Have a beautiful Friday, and see you tomorrow!