The Happy and Serious Sides of Life

The Happy and Serious Sides of Life

Time has a way of rolling away, going slowly or with lightning speed. All we can do is hold on to each hour and minute. First, the happy side, which is to introduce my first great-grandchild, Hope. She arrived on July 11th, twelve days after her official due date, weighing in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces, 21 inches long. The only sad spot was that her maternal grandfather, Carleton Harlow, who had passed away in early January, wasn’t there to greet her. Our comfort is the belief that he was present in spirit to share in the joy. What a ray of sunshine she brings with her into a very hard year. Welcome Hope!

On the serious side of life, I’m almost at the end of my chemotherapy for a rather aggressive form of breast cancer. I have one more treatment left and although I’ve had some unpleasant side effects, hope things will improve. My doctor lowered my two main drugs by 20% as he was concerned for my safety and has put me on an antibiotic regimen for the next eight days. This is to prevent any intestinal or bowel infection that could prove fatal. Another test is scheduled for today to check on heart function and again labs on Wednesday to monitor whether dropping hemoglobin, red cell count, or immune system readings will require action. I’ve had three blood transfusions over the past five treatments, so hope I won’t need anymore. However, I feel so much better after them that I won’t complain.

After my final chemo treatment in August, I will continue with my every third week herceptin infusions (a gene targeted medication delivered through my port) until the end of April next year. Radiation treatments will probably begin about mid-September. That requires daily trips across town to the Kaiser Oncology location for at least a month with only weekends off!

It seems like a long haul at times, but it’s worth the trips, tests, and record keeping of medications and symptoms to know that life is still beautiful.

I’m slowly continuing work on my latest book. Emaline is a child musical prodigy (circa early 1900’s) whose life is complicated by psychological twists and unexpected obstacles. My original working title was Through a Glass Darkly but am considering alternatives, such as Emaline. I’m at the 47 thousand-word count. Since one never quite knows how a story will stretch out in first draft, or conversely, how much will be condensed or cut, the length is still uncertain.

The arrival of Hope in my world, the sustaining support system of family, friends, and colleagues, coupled with the excitement of writing continues to beckon me to the future.

Published in: on July 24, 2012 at 10:02 am  Comments (17)  
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Every May I Remember Mama

Traveling back in memory to the little house on Hardcastle, I am once more safe in my mother’s arms. For she was the center of my Universe, and the sight of her could banish any grief or woe. Despite the availability of jobs during the war years, Mama chose to stay home and tend to her children. Practicing economies learned in the Depression, she made ends meet. She gave piano lessons and was not too proud to take in ironing or pick berries for local farmers. With these tiny earnings and a small stipend from my father, she provided a stable and happy home.

Though we never had much, we always had enough. And the finer things of life were never relinquished or abandoned. Mama was an accomplished musician, so often the strains of a Chopin etude or an old folk song would float out into the dusk of our summer yard where my brother and I whispered secrets and planned adventures. The combination of music and lamplight would draw us in just before bedtime, cheeks aflame with fresh air and exertion. When summer turned to fall and winter, Mama often read aloud. The Little House in the Big Woods was best remembered and, over the years, we collected the whole series. Laura and Mary and Pa and Ma were discussed as though they were family.

I also remember how no illness could long endure under Mama’s gentle ministrations. Her hand on my forehead, her dark eyes looking into mine, seemed to ease every symptom, and I knew I would soon be well. Now, as I face a serious health issue, it is easy to find tears filling my eyes. If only Mama were here, she would sit by my bedside, nurse me with simple but nourishing dishes, and best of all, touch my cheek and say, “There, there. You’ll be better in the morning.”

No matter how old we are, no matter how many years have passed, our mothers are never far from us. I recall a visit to a nursing home when I was very young. A long, bony figure of a man with hollowed cheeks and a sunken mouth lay upon a white cot. Eyes closed, he called, over and over, “Mother! Mother!”

At last I know why. For who will remember us when we grow old and infirm? Who but mother?

Published in: on May 12, 2012 at 10:54 am  Comments (10)  
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