– three hundred and sixty five days untrodden, all gift-wrapped.
Reams of resolutions. High hopes in spite of/ because of …
Then comes …
Evening news. Burning building collapses.
Shades of 9/11 …
Pick up phone to text Neighbour–
Me: (tap, tappity-tap) Hope your family wasn’t near the building that came down in Tehran.
Neighbour (texts): Thank God, none of my family members was in that area. I knew this building very well since my father used to have an office there when I was little. My mother was working, so he would take me to his office after school. It’s all so sad.
Me: (Tap, tap): Thank God. Sad, yes.
Avalanche in Italy buries ski resort. More earthquakes. Tsunami warning. Shooting in Texas mall.
Never ends. So what’s changed?
Nothing, it seems, but …
Must keep looking upward, focus outward, embrace light.
– Must speak LIFE.
Proverbs 18: 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue …
Daughters’ Christmas present hangs by writing desk. Speaks loud and clear to Heart. Heart leaps for joy –
“So Grampi, was it love at first sight when you saw her?”
Daughter’s eyes widen, jaw drops when Maternal Grandpa lets out belly laugh.
Her romantic notions of darling-sweep-me-off-my-feet-I’m-yours-forever are shattered.
Sister and I glean bits and pieces over the years.
Dad’s story –
“I came home from work one evening, and Mother told me I was fixed up.”
No further discussion …
(Rumour has it that Paternal Grandma in her heyday was a tough bird.)
Fixed up is a direct translation from the vernacular. There’s a sense of no-way-out about it.
Matchmakers are Aunty Ruby’s in-laws.
Dad, up-and-coming young banker, is desperate to see what the girl looks like before formal introduction when he and parents visit her home. Enlists help of Friend Gunam. Friend and he ride Dad’s scooter up and down Mum’s lane. Young Lady finally makes an appearance on front porch.
Dad and Friend ride away. Dad is glum.
Friend Gunam’s version: “He was speechless. He fell instantly in love.”
Dad’s version: “I didn’t know what to say. She looked like nothing on earth!”
Enormous relief to meet the girl a few days later. Accomplished. Demure. Long dark hair. Pleasant to behold.
Turns out young lady on front porch was Neighbour’s Daughter!
True story – honest – straight from the horse’s mouth.
Mum’s Story –
Me: “Mum, so what did you think when you saw him?”
Mum: “He was so handsome, darling. My heart skipped a beat!”
The date is fixed. Here comes the bride …
Uncle Gunam – comrade, confidante, fellow sleuth – is Bestman.
Fast forward fifty years. Golden Wedding Anniversary celebrations.
They all said it – grannies and great aunts, aunties and elderly widows:
“Love comes after marriage, that’s how it happens.”
Several dark months when light in home is dimmed while Mother (me) undergoes treatment for late-detected breast cancer. Pretty much confined to bed. A simple journey to the bathroom and back is long, exhausting. Endless pilgrimages to hospital and clinics. Can’t do much else besides. Completely sapped of strength.
One day Daughter says –
“I guess God allows the pit to get so deep, so we can see how high his ladder can go …”
Words to heal or kill- power of tongue to build up or destroy …
Perspective alters instantly. Pit is deep, very deep – yes – but ladder goes high, so high. Begin to count blessings. Endless list.
People who love and care –
Husband, Daughters, Family, Friends, Church (Kitchen lies idle. Meals come in unsolicited for seven months straight.
Maureen, who accompanies me to chemo sessions, sees me safely into house, remains awhile in driveway crying for me before driving away.
Brother-In-Law, Jonathan, who spends 4 hours a day for a week, driving me to radiation through freezing rain and snow storms, so exhausted husband can have a break..
Puppy’s unwavering eyes on me. Doesn’t move from my bedside. (Never wanted a dog. Can’t do without him now)
Top notch medical care. Stellar surgeon and oncologist.
Knowing that everything happens for a reason.
Prayer. Someone IS listening.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Husband wakes up each morning and says, “Good morning gorgeous!”
I cry the first time I hear him. I’m grey, bloated, bald as an egg.
He isn’t joking.
Meet Maria –
I see Maria one morning at the chemo ward. A pretty woman. She begins to cry when the needle is inserted into her vein. My heart aches. In two weeks she’ll be as bald and as I am, with black nails and all the awful trimmings. I don’t want her to suffer as I have.
I place a hand on Maria’s and murmur, “You’ll be all right.”
She says, “How do you do it?”
“You wake up each morning and ask for strength for the day. At night say ‘thank you’ for the grace that took you through. Live one day at a time. Don’t think about tomorrow. It’s too frightening.”
We meet every three weeks at the hospital, talk on the phone. Dark moments. Shared strength.
Maria makes it. So do I. Sisters. There’s something about shared suffering. Eight cancer-free years for us both this year. Oncologist tells me I’m one of her success stories.
How high the ladder goes …
Pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness
Detest the wig. Makes me itch, gets into eyes –
Husband wears it to sixties hippy-themed costume birthday party some weeks back!
That’s my man!
Won’t ever forget that moment when head feels scratchy. Realize hair’s growing back.
What a feeling …
Gorgeous full moon last week.
Playing hide-and-seek over neighbour’s roof …
Roses still blooming in Garden –
Hope is a precious thing. Joy is priceless.
Until next time,
PS: The pictures in this post are all clicks from my IPad and phone. Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. Thank you for dropping in.