Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The C Word - Hope, and Fun

In l990 the United States invaded Iraq and that same year I first heard the big C word and was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2003 we invaded Iraq again, and I had my second breast removed. We shall never invade Iraq again (if we ever get out of there) because I have no more breasts to give to my country.

My heart bleeds for every woman who hears the word breast cancer as her diagnosis. I have often felt the very air which we breathed full of fear and foreboding while sitting in my blue gown at the Mayo Clinic, together with 6 or 7 others waiting for the results or to go in for our mammograms. One time I looked and counted. Every woman’s left foot was jiggling with nerves and we were all united together.

But I am one of the blessed ones. At the present time, my cancer is in remission. I long to help others when they hear the same news, but so far my help has only been monetary and joining in the walks for cancer.

In Green Bay we have the 10K Bellin Run. I participated in 2003 with 15,000 others. I began with the crowd and was going along with a guy on crutches and a wheelchair alongside pushed by his buddies. Soon he tired and got in the wheel chair and off they went.

I walked alone down Webster Avenue, me with my number plastered onto my front. The street had been shut off to traffic, but when a Buick almost kicked me in the butt, I took to the sidewalk until I approached the turn on Green Avenue. This road is all downhill and I saw way ahead of me the wheelchair flying in the wind and the buddies running alongside it.

People were all along the race route and clapping as I went by. I felt very embarrassed until I heard one person say,”Now this is what this race is all about.” I raised my hand in greeting and plunged on. I quit at the half-way point.

In 2007 I thought I should try it again. This time I played it smarter and lined myself up at the head of the walkers, just behind the runners. I figured I had a better chance of having some company for a little while longer on the trail. I did for about the first mile, and then it petered out and I was walking alone again. At the way stations offering water they all looked behind to see if I really was the last one and I told them to never mind—I really was.

The hardest part of this walk was all the police attention I received. First one squad car came and asked me if I was okay and I said "Sure." He continued to follow me just to see. Pretty soon he got bored as I was still upright and drove off. This happened 4 times. I really don’t know if they were that concerned about me or if the people at the stations wanted to go home. I told the last cop that I wanted to get to the halfway point to ping the binger and so when I got there, lo and behold, of course he was there waiting for me. I really wasn’t tired yet and wanted to go on, but I figured I had better get in as he had been waiting for me and spent so much time on me.

I would like to counsel women who get this news, and yet I don’t feel I can because I was lucky enough to have caught both my cancers before I had to have chemotherapy. I think the thought of chemo scares me more than the cancer so I feel I have no right to counsel anyone. I’d like to tell them that mammography really does save your life and that early detection is vital and if anyone is out there now with this facing them---remember there are many, many survivors nowadays.

And actually it is rather cool not having to wear a bra -- ever.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

To Sleep - Perhaps to Dream

Whether one prefers a twin bed to a double bed has long been a topic of discussion in our house. I’ll tell you right up front that I prefer a single bed and have for over 50 years.

My grown children have all told me that when they were youngsters they used to notice that all of their friend’s folks slept in one bed and they told me they never knew anyone but us who slept in single twin beds. My daughter told me that her father told her as they were going down the aisle at her wedding that she should never agree to twin beds, but always sleep in a double bed. That’s pretty strong stuff to tell your girl as she is heading down the aisle!!!

Which brings me to why we have had twin beds most of our married life. Our first year of marriage was different from most as we only were together on week-ends. He was teaching 100 miles away from where I was teaching.
and that in itself is a long story which I won't go into here.

Our week-ends were great and I believe really extended the honeymoon stage. However, we had one problem. Bill was a big man who had never slept with anyone before. He never learned to turn over in place so that the covers would stay put. He also was very tall and liked his sheet not tucked in. So every time he turned around he took all the covers with him and I would have to get up and go around to the other side to find room and grab some covers. Finally as Bill loves to tell it, he got up one night and cut the blanket and the sheet up the middle, tucked in my side and left his open and got back into bed.

That did not solve the problem and I stand before you now to tell you that if we had not gone the twin bed route at that point, my children would not be here for we would have been divorced. We would have such violent verbal fights at 4 in the morning with both of us half asleep and very tired from lack of it. I was appalled at what my husband would say to me and I back to him!!

And I believe it is very funny that every time any of my grown children come home with their spouses and sleep in the guest room which have grandma and grandpa’s twin beds there, they cannot get over how well they sleep every time they come to my house. Imagine that.

We also have been reading in the papers and over the TV lately about Americans lack of enough sleep. I hear many accounts of one spouse taking up all the bed while the other languishes on the edge. I also hear complaints of not being able to find the other in a king sized bed.

So how do you all feel about this subject? Twin beds or double or queen or king-sized?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Imagination Run Wild

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life

For which the first was made

William Wordsworth

I don’t think William would find that many old people would agree with that but then most people have glummed on to these lines as being what the poet was trying to say. Not wanting to read the long dissertation that follows reminds me of the way Congress is trying to pass a Health Reform Bill that almost none have read.

I feel that I have just recently been introduced to the world of old people and let me tell you I was not prepared to handle it Guess I must admit to my own lack in that regard, but quite honestly it crept up on me as a big surprise. I should have known life didn’t just go on forever like it had been for many years and that someday I too should grow old, but it didn’t.

Some people grow old very gracefully, accepting the roadblocks that physical breakdowns throw at you and being content with their lives as they have become—not being able to do the things they used to do—getting used to going to funerals of all their friends instead of baptisms and weddings and fun things like that. And many lose their life partners.

Then there are the fighters that keep on doing all the things they used to do and enjoying each day that the Lord gives them to the fullest. I aspired to be one of those. I'm still trying, not that life hasn't thrown a few crappy things at me, but I am concentrating on keeping the good things going for as long as I can.

Bill Moyer had an interesting woman on his program a week or so ago . Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, a professor at Harvard , has written a book entitled THE THIRD CHAPTER which is about the 25 years after 50. She said that the most important thing for people when they grow old is to develop a passion for something and to keep alive their curiosity.

I belong to the local University’s Learning in Retirement program and there are a lot of people there who are old and interesting and interested. You can take courses in art, poetry, history, and join discussion groups about books, current events, learn to crochet even. I am taking oil painting, Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare, games (which is really a social event though advertised as a means of keeping our minds sharp.)

Also Memoirs where everyone writes and reads to the class about their youth and things that they remember and it is fascinating to hear and even more fun when you remember the same things, too. I can’t remember what else I am taking. Each class is perhaps 4 to 6 weeks, one day a week for three hours. It is a great way to keep up one's passions and interests.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hello Everyone!

Joining all you young things living out your mid-life crisis’s makes me glad that I am past that phase of my life. When you get to be my age you don’t have any sweat left so I guess that is one for the old folks. However, let me hasten to add that an older person has other things that they didn’t have when they were younger.

For instance, one time a student, asked me why I tied my shoelaces double. I told him that when you are in the supermarket or school or anywhere not near a chair and get my age, it is next to impossible to stand on your head and tie up a loose shoelace. Bending down was gone to the past. Then another student asked me -----I forgot what she asked me. Damn!

Guess that is one of the other things I was going to mention that happens when one gets older. You belong to a club –CRS. And if you don’t know what that stands for, ask your grandmother.

I have been impressed with some of the blogs that I have read. I loved the one with the pictures of the girl canning all those beautiful veggies. And the person who had the blog on clouds. She said she used to lie on her back and imagine different forms the clouds made when a child. I did too, and I still remember that.

Please come and visit me often.



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