Six years and counting…

It was six years ago last night that I was going to take my life, hearing two weeks earlier that I had only six months to a year to live.

There was a telephone call a few hours earlier asking for my volunteerism with an American Cancer Society walk in the autumn. I knew the coordinator calling, and told her about the “Carcinoid Cancer” (now NETs) diagnosis.

I ended the call with, “I’ll see you next weekend at the Relay,” and hung up. Because I was true to my word and figured she was a mandatory reporter anyway, I suspended my plan until after I saw her.

The following day, May 29, 2012 I had an appointment at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance with Dr. David Byrd, the surgeon who performed my mastectomy and node biopsy in 2007.  I learned from Dr. Byrd that there was a much different possibility than what I heard from Lt. Col. Dr. Tommy Brown two weeks earlier.

Dr. Byrd shared that there was hope for life beyond that year. A good portion of the rest of the story can be read in my “About the Author” page, and in blog posts in April through July 2012.

What I want to share here is this…

We must question what we hear.

Living in fear to the point of worry robs us of LIFE. Worry is the lie that fear tells to us.

So, it has been six YEARS thus far…and I am looking for six years times two or three. Here is to living life, one day at a time!!

 

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Do art galleries make us artists?

If something that someone has created is hanging in an art gallery, does that make someone an artist?

I am not certain of the answer to this question, but I am feeling a bit accomplished for having shown two of my pieces at a show that opened this afternoon at Olympic College Art Gallery.

There were so many artists whose work was displayed during this show.  There were classic-style drawings and paintings, abstract work of all kinds, and much more.

The painting of the two faces (on the right of the featured image) is a piece that I call “Warrior Sisters–People Heal.”

In the photo below, my “Untitled” piece (acrylic elephant on wood) is displayed with the cardboard elephant sculpture peeking through the photo on top.  I love that view, and might have never noticed it had I not been learning to view things from different perspectives in the sculpture class I am currently taking.

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I am excited for this stage in my life.  I am learning now to be comfortable with creativity, and for showing my work to others.

I have been been a bit nervous about calling myself “an artist,” because I tend to compare myself to others and minimize what I do create.  It is why I put these two pieces in the show from an last-minute call for art.  It was non-juried, so it was not rejected.

I figured that it would give me the chance to dip my toe in the water of the art world. I will have my own wall at a local shop at the upcoming local art walk in July. I am nervous about that, but will have a few more people viewing what I create. I will also be able to tell my story to more people about reaching beyond the fears of life.

I truly know nothing about art technique, the differences between good and bad supplies, how to use supplies properly,  shading and highlighting, complimentary colors, or anything else that one might learn by going to art school. I am simply learning by playing with the things that I never had much of a chance to do as a child or teenager.I am learning to share of myself through creativity.

What you get from me is raw, childlike, and genuine.  That means that I will color outside the lines. I will also scribble. I have been like this for 62 years, and I doubt that I will change that part of me much.

I am still not convinced that I am much of artist…but maybe I am.  After all, I have the pictures of the art show to prove it!

 

There’s a war in my brain…I think…

“You think too much,” a friend of mine said to me recently.

I responded, “You think this is the first time I have heard this? It’s been the story of my life.”

I do not ruminate about things intending to keep myself awake all night (as I did last night). Nor does it mean that I live in negativity by rehashing things in order to make sense of all that goes on in my life or the world, in general.

Yet, there is a war that seems to rage on in my brain…because I think.

For some reason, dates are important to me.  These timelines are reminders to me to celebrate events and people. They offer me joy, keep me humble, and remind me of how much there is to live for. However, they also hold memories of struggle, fear and pain, as well as to remind me that some things do not change.

Therein lies the biggest struggle.  I continue to ask, “Why? How? What?”  and the sleepless nights begin.

This month is the anniversary month for many of the things that transpired with a diagnosis of stage 4 Neuroendocrine/Carcinoid cancer six years ago. I remember all the dates. I am grateful for having life, but the events that took place are not something that I can seem to remove from my brain.

May is also the month for Mothers’ Day.  I can no longer call my own mother, though I continue to think of her with good memories.  I have nowhere to mail a card to her or to send her flowers.

Then, I wait for a phone call that does not come with consistency. This year, nothing. My logical mind reasons that one is busy and dealing with more important things.  My emotions argue with my logic, trying to convince me that I have somehow done something wrong to prompt the silence.

Good or bad. Wrong or right. This or that. One way or the other.

What to choose? Which will be better? How can it improve? What can I do?

These are just some of the conversations that I have with myself on nearly a daily basis.  I never quite come up with the solutions, as once I do, I am asking the same questions.

Maybe I do think too much.  But that prompts the questions, once again…

“Why?  What can I do about it?”

And the war within my brain rages on…

 

 

 

 

18 years… no longer a little boy

I was not there for the birth of my grandson, as I was for my granddaughter three years earlier. Things were such in the family that I did not receive an announcement but heard the news from others. The estrangement had been solidified soon after my granddaughter was born.

Miles was born 18 years ago today. I met him for the first time when he was nearly two years old. He was in my life until the last time I saw him, nearly three years ago, shortly after my daughter left her marriage. He has lived with his father and things have been strained since. There is no contact with his grandparents, and it’s one of the toughest things anyone should have to sit by and watch or endure.

I am grateful for the times over 12 years I was able to see him and spend a little time with him. He was such a cute little boy and as he grew into a teenager has become a handsome young man. I appreciated his creativity and his sense of adventure through storytelling. He had a loving, Generous Heart.

Today is his birthday, and I have no way of reaching out to him to let him know that I’m thinking of him today and that I love him. We should be celebrating as a family these milestones.

I keep looking forward and trusting that someday there will be reconciliation. Life can be so confusing and so painful for so many of us from early ages into old age. I pray that someday soon we can all get together and celebrate those things that we have missed.

I love you, Miles, and I hope that you enter into this stage of adulthood with anticipation of wonderful things to come. I’m proud of you for your creativity, your generosity and your wit. I’m sure that in this next stage of your life you will do great things with all of them.

Happy 18th birthday.

Our last phone call

I remember the phone call. My sister-in-law was the the one that called me about 11 p.m. I was already asleep. It was three years ago tonight.   I offered to make the call to two of my other two sisters who had not yet been called.

Our father died that night. He had just had his 83rd birthday a little over three weeks earlier.

I had spoken to him for his birthday. It was the longest conversation that we had in well-over 40 years ago. It lasted for nearly 20 minutes. Through the years, the birthday calls lasted about two or three minutes.

There were decades that passed in our lives with little communication between us.  Oh, there were the obligatory phone calls, holiday cards he signed as “Neil,” and we saw one another five or six times in those four decades.

I always tried to be a “good daughter,” to mend fences, and always told him that I loved him, but always seemed to run up against a brick wall. I could not seem to break through, and he never seemed to be interested in helping to knock down the walls. I never did quite understand the reasoning behind it, and it is never something he ever cared to share.

At one point many years ago, I knew that I could no longer hold onto a fantasy of a father-daughter relationship that I wanted.  It was when I finally was able to let go and forgive the hurts of the past.

Back in June 2012, a few days after my surgery after my cancer diagnosis, my father called me in the hospital.  I was still dopey from morphine, but I remember him saying, “You tell that cancer to leave my baby alone!” 

I remember little more about the conversation, but I remembering him offering the words in return, “I love you, Coral.”   I had not heard those words in several decades.

When we spoke for his birthday, we spoke of music, health, and a bit more. It was a pleasant call, and he once again surprised me.  He offered, “I love you, Coral,” before I had the chance to say it first.

“I love you, Coral.”

These were the last words I heard my father speak to me. They were also the last words I spoke to him. He passed away three weeks later.

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Though decades passed and what might have been in a family never came to fruition,  I am forever grateful for the two calls that helped to mend the many years of silent pain between us. My only regret is that we did not have more years to explore together.

I love you, Dad, and hope that you are resting in peace.

From (what you called),

Your #1 Daughter

Today she turned 21…where does the time go?

Twenty-one years ago, my first grandchild was born.

Twenty-one years ago, I took on the name of “Gramma” or “Gramma Coco.”  I was there when she was born.

It is a day that I shall never forget.  One never forgets something so profound as seeing your own daughter give birth to her own daughter.

Life has been such that for most of the 21 years, the dreams of what grandparent-hood might have been or the possibility of the Hallmark relationships between family members was not our reality.

There is an inexplicable connection between us, however.  We may not always feel it, or recognize it.  But it exists in the free-spiritedness that runs at her core. She is not afraid to challenge others and ask questions.  She takes parts of life on like a storm, not afraid to try new things.

There are so many other things I could say, but I would write a book.  Let me end by saying…

I love you, Marian,

and I am so proud of you! 

 Happy 21st Birthday, and…

STOP getting so old!  I cannot keep telling everyone I am only 49, if you keep having these milestone birthdays!