Tag Archives: cancer

Bliends – Lunch

diane duke 2

Even before Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha’s fabulous introduction post, I was already certain Diane Duke would be a friend for life. From inception, Ladies Who Lunch Reviews, Etc blew up with “a little lunch, a little wine and a LOT of talking.” Immediately faithful followers gathered regularly, but I can attest the numbers hardly begin to bespeak the quality of her fabulous blog.

diane duke 1A fellow Illinoisan, Diane amazes me as she gracefully plows through happy times and hardships equally. Cancer doesn’t even seem to thwart her. Her eloquent accounts on life, the fur kids, the ever-amazing and entertaining JP, poetry, sizzling romances and mysteries, books, etc. are sure to interest, entertain and often amuse. I’m not gonna lie, I get a little jealous of her sometimes. 😉 Kidding. Mostly.

diane dukeMost of all I appreciate how Diane personally interacts with her readers. We may never know how she remembers details about so many people (notes, maybe?) and yet she does with her personable style and distinctive undertones of fun. Comment threads as well as her posts and stories inspire and send me on my way in a brighter direction for the time spent with the Ladies.

Need a suggestion for a good read, a reality check or a mirthful moment? Pop on over!

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Go Cubs. Go!

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

Cubs logo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

All other images are private and aside from reblogging or reposting the article in whole, are not to be duplicated without prior written permission. Thank you!

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Filed under Writing and Blogging

Likeminded

I’ve settled in enough to miss old friends. Some slipped into my past, but others remain close no matter where in the world I pause.

Therese etcI met one of my favorite people the first week in the new apartment building in my new village of Fox Lake. She stood there in the hallway as though she’d been waiting for me. Moments after basic introductions, Therese blurted, “We should start a Bible Study in the building!”

 

We hadn’t mentioned church or matters of faith, yet she reaffirmed the old saying like attracts like. From that happy meeting we got together several times a week. Each time we excitedly share something new. We talked to God alone about the Bible Study.

sean and thereseTerry is a master quilter, something I’d always wanted to try. We’d get together a few times a week to enjoy one another’s company and explore new patchwork designs. Each visit Sean, Terry’s lively, WWII veteran and professional vocalist husband annoyed her entertained us with jokes (usually bad) or song (always wonderful). We quickly learned to have the computer or the TV on in the other room.

Every week we excitedly shared stories about what God was doing in the building and our community. We understood the Bible Study would happen in God’s time. We stayed busy.

Two years later I took my latest quilt project to Terry’s apartment. My mind was in a patchwork maze and my caffeine levels were dangerously low. But when she opened the door we both blurted together, out of nowhere, “Do you have any ideas about the Bible Study?” Her eyes widened, and she said, “I found this book that would be great to start with.”

BGB LCHOver the next couple of days she put together a syllabus, printed flyers and I passed them around the building. We started with eight women, each from different faith backgrounds and experiences; a genuine melting pot. Within weeks the group grew so we had to move to a larger room.

Sean and Therese BrooklynI moved out of the building a year later. Just before I left Terry finished chemo therapy for breast cancer – after fifteen years of remission God and she beat it again.

It’s a safe bet we keep in touch. As busy as she stays, when my brother passed away, Terry was my go-to girl, my touchstone. We hadn’t talked in three months, but you’d never know I ever left the building. Good friends are like that.

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Three years later, Terry reports the Bad Girls of the Bible* Group is still as diverse as ever and going strong.

 

 

“…If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:19,20 (NLT)

 

*Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs image courtesy Google.Books.Com

Images courtesy of Therese and Sean are not to be duplicated or otherwise shared without prior written permission. Thank you!

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

Shades

hands

Now that the mainstream media hype is waning somewhat:

News flash: I’m about as white (a shade, absence of color) as can be and my hair is red-gone-silver.

I don’t appear black, but often think I know how it feels. I don’t. I can only imagine. Still, I too grieve and feel resentful, angry for my friends that endure discrimination and insufferable prejudice sometimes solely because they aren’t “white.” Sure, that seems easy for me to say – so I say it often.

I pale (forgive the pun) in comparison to my friends with their dark shades, rich, deep skin and hair color. It’s okay, they tease me and I tease them – it’s all about the love. The skin cancers are the result of this girl with no self-worth burning herself in the sun for years, actually trying to look more like runway models I admired. Go ahead, yuk it up. I do – I’m in remission. Back when Twiggy and Katiti Kironde were “America’s Top Models,” I had distinctive curves – definitely not stylish. There wasn’t enough gauze and duct tape to fix that, people. We all have our self-image issues.

Much of my appearance comes from the gene pool I swam from, but that same family also raised me to honor and respect all life. My skin, but for my newer scars, brown spots and freckles, is pale. I never suffered from the on-going subjection to stigmas many of my friends do CONSTANTLY. Let’s try to forget the times we’ve been unappreciated for calling out prejudice; like asking why the person I shop with every week, the same store in our small town had to show I.D. – I was carded only once.

As an adult (rumor has it) I realize my skin is not black. My American life is easier, less fearsome than others basically because of my looks – and then that mouth (another subject entirely).

Y’all gotta see, black (a shade actually) is the presence of all color. Regardless of age, race, creed, color, country of origin or political views (which incidentally are as changeable as the wind – anyone else ever pay attention to politicians during election campaigns and then after they take office?), in that sense we are all black, brown, olive, red, yellow, white and albino.

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My point: We must not only stand in solidarity against this cleverly veiled evil, we must learn to move forward together. Until all lives actually do matter everywhere, in every heart,

Black Lives Matter

“My brothers and sisters, I know you’ve heard this before, but stop playing favorites! Do not try to blend the genuine faith of our glorious Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, with your silly pretentiousness.” James 2:1 (The Voice)

Still images courtesy of ABSFreePic

 

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Filed under A Door Ajar

Chatting Over Tea

So far, most of my readers are my good friends from all over the country. As most of my new friends/readers have gathered, my life took me all over the continental U.S. over the past thirty years. Although I manage to circle around, the past eight years my circles have been loops.

I’m especially blessed to count seven close, dear “best” friends; people with common values I can say anything with and never fear being judged or offending with a misstated word. While we keep in touch pretty well by phone, Skype, social media, email, texts and even old-school, greeting cards, handwritten (or printed) letters and printed photos, we haven’t been able to get together, not even for the kids’ weddings.

For a year I’ve poured myself into my blog. It’s working better for me than losing hours on Facebook and its many entertaining diversions. Still, my last long trip was two years ago for one Spice Girlfriend’s wedding.

I often imagine the surge of information we’d exchange over a steamy cup of something lovely. I’d finally be able to tell them about my latest roller coaster ride; the things one simply doesn’t say over the phone.

Take for instance one friend in particular that I’ve known since she was home schooling her children at elementary level, and some were in High School. She would be my first subject, only because I actually saw her last.

I can imagine her flying into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, exhausted, pouring her into our guest room bed, resting a few hours and then sharing coffee or tea on my balcony…

Josey coffee Annie Spratt

Me: Good morning! You look wonderful.

Josey (dressed and refreshed, steps through the french doors onto the balcony to find me just sitting down with a tray of tea and scones): “Thank you. I have a little jet lag. I’m wide awake but I think my brain is still in Washington. (Josey sits and reaches for a scone as I pour tea,) You start bringing me up to date and I’ll jump in with questions when I need to. These are such good scones, I don’t even feel bad for sleeping in and not helping you. You can send me the recipe. Go ahead while I munch.”

Me: “I know what you mean. Trying to sleep last night I thought about how we used to compare our lives to a long, cross country tour of famous roller coasters.”
“This stop’s been very different from all rest. Living with this part of my core family, far from my kids, no one would have imagined how hard it would be for all three of us, pulling our lives together – together.”
“You probably remember Roan from before her divorce, when we were so close. She’s so different now, you’ll hardly recognize her – I rarely recognize her. We’re three entirely different people compared to who we were ten years ago – the last time we all lived together in Finley. That year before I moved back from Illinois, we planned the next few years down to every minute detail we could imagine. We tried including any unexpected twists and turns. But this train seemed to have derailed last March.”

Josey: “I know what you mean. Sometimes I wonder how my life became so different from what I ever thought it would be.”

Me: “Does it ever blow you away how all three of us, you, Roan and I all separated from our husbands within the same 4 months? Even when I don’t text you, you know that you and the kids are all in my prayers – mostly daily. But how’re they adjusting to all the changes since the last move to Finley?”

Josey: “Oh they’re fine as far as I can see – now that they’re all grown and on their own…”

Me: “That’s as good as we can expect, I imagine.

Josey: “I know what you mean about building a new nest while living with siblings. And you, my friend already experienced losing a sibling to death, the first to leave this world. I can only imagine.”

Me: “And yet, we depended on Seagh in ways none of us realized till he was gone. His passing while he was so young actually was unimaginable. Although he was my kid brother – he was the wisest of us all. He earned all of our trust – said nobody else in our family, ever. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember you never met him.”

Josey: “True. And yet as close as you and I are, you’ve still never met my mom or my sister.”

Me: “Right.”
“Seagh wasn’t often gentle, like your mom, but he had a knack for knowing when the fur flies in our home to either leave the building, whistle loudly, or stand tall, staring blankly into the midst of the fray. He’d do that until we each noticed what he was doing and stopped – whatever. Then he’s say something remarkable, like, “So, where will you bury the body?”

We both laugh at the scene.

Me: “Lord, how I miss laughing at ourselves when he did that.”

Josey: “I can well imagine.”

Me: “The blog and my two manuscripts have helped me through the past year. So now, we’ve about hammered most of our kinks out. Opal living with her mother and me again now adds just the right amount of salt to the mix. We hated the apartment, so we bit the bullet and moved into this townhouse mostly because of this balcony. You remember when I’ve seen worse.”

Josey nods, saying only, “St. John Street,” Referring to the house she helped me renovate and move into years ago.

We both laugh again at the thought of the ramshackle house when my husband and I first bought it.

Me: “Thank you so much for reminding me! That is a great post for The Apex. Don’t you think?”

Josey nods in agreement as she sips thoughtfully.

Me: “I’d slant it toward the healing journey in general, both the house and me.”

We sit quietly for a comfortable pause as I pencil into my ever ready wire-bound tablet to remind me of the idea.

Josey: “Coming in I noticed how we’re walking distance from almost everything you need.”

Me: “It’s certainly a perk since I gave away my Chevy and salvaged my mini van just before I left Illinois. Oh, but running the girls around the Lakes in that van was fun. And to think, I bought it thinking mainly about the grand kids.”

Josey: “Yes. The notes you posted to Facebook about the retreats and road trips were very good. I enjoyed them as though I’d been along for the rides. I also noticed you publish a lot more since you linked your blog to your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.” She smiled sincerely.

Me: “With everything so close, we manage to get by, the three of us sharing the two, well one and a quarter cars (ha ha ha). With her new job, Opal will replace her car soon. In the worst case scenario I go to church on line in my room. I trust I’ll pick up some more copywriting assignments soon and tuck that money away for another, more reliable, economical car. Now that I’m cancer free I’ll have the doctors paid off by the end of next year.” I sigh and smile feebly.

Josey: Raises both arms, palms up, saying: “Thank You, God.” I join her in the praise.

Me: “Sure, sometimes I get bogged down beneath all the trials, expenses and so little money coming in. Mostly over the grieving process – times three.
“Seriously, I think the hardest part of starting all over again is the finances; not being able to travel – yet – to see the grandkids. You well know, they don’t stay little for long and they forget so soon.”

Josey: “That’s why I’m glad you took Gilley’s advice and started your blog. Next thing we know you’ll submit one of your manuscripts. Who knows, maybe we’ll create an app to put our stories out there. I read that’s the up-and-coming-medium. It would be today’s spin of her Gilley’s first book.”

Me: “Sure. Maybe you’ll let me use some of your prose or poems. I think you might be just a little afraid you’d get caught up in blogging too.”

Josey: “I seriously don’t know when I’d find the time.”

Me: “No worries. Blogging U courses are so good, especially for connecting with other writers, artists, photographers, journalists bloggers – and even if only a small percent of your class offers to help you through a problem, that’s still a lot of help at your beck and call. You’d be schooling me at it in a few weeks. What’s more, the courses are free.”

Josey: “Go over your Categories for me again.”

Me: “Fine:

A Door Ajar: My stories illustrating some techniques I learned about relationships while I was pursuing my CPC; Boundaries, Anger Management and so on. The header: “Relationships are like doorways to our lives. When we close our doors fresh air, light and fresh perspectives don’t get in. Sometimes it’s best to leave the door ajar.”
Kitchen Sync: Foodies creating a better world from meager means. It all begins at home.
From the Apex: Enjoying the aging process from all perspectives.
The World According to Roo: Where I post my long reads
Blogging U: Where I compile my class assignments as I complete them. Maybe I’ll relocate some later on.

Josey: “I spend at least an hour catching up with you every other week.”

Me: “Feel free to comment any time. No, really. I approve or delete them all so you can’t embarrass me publicly – Hee Hee Hee!”

Josey: “I know. I didn’t realize I said that aloud.”

We laugh together and slip into comfortable quiet listening to the birds.

Feeling fatigue start to set in I suggest, “What do you think about taking a walk before these clouds get serious and rain?”

Josey: “Done.”

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Filed under A Door Ajar

Gross: The New Cool

Today, for about a minute, I worried I may have discovered a new depth of depravity.

I discovered a streak of blood on the white sheer curtain panel in my room. At the time, I quickly deduced it must have somehow come from my leg immediately after a fresh excision of skin – 5 weeks ago. Gross. Right?

sheers

I noticed the same streak again this morning. Initially I marveled at the changes in color and shape – and that it’s still there. A dab or two with a couple of sponges and some diluted hydrogen peroxide would have removed it altogether when I first noticed it.

But no… Not this time. Three more excisions later and physical therapy twice each week, that streak has become my visual touchstone.

I’m in a storm. It’s not a hurricane, a tornado or even a squall. And yet, since the cancers are easily excised and forgotten – granted, every few months – I’m blessed.

Reality check: The streak reminds me every time I see it, that while so many of my dear friends have and continue to undergo the many miseries that come with chemo and radiation therapy, I am indeed blessed.

Today I sincerely hope that anyone unable to appreciate the new cool, never actually experience it.

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Filed under Notes from the Apex