nurturing thursdays: celebrating the goodness of people…

My husband’s 40+ years of dedicated service to the traveling public has come to an end.

What began as a summer job with Pan American World Airways in the mid-to-late 60s, followed by a stint with American Express as a travel agent in the early 70s, eventually flourished into a full-fledged career in the cruise industry.

I have never doubted my husband’s charisma and talent to do anything he wanted. Although his seeming shyness and humility had me wondering if he could ever climb the corporate ladder. I didn’t think he had the killer instinct required to get from one rung to the next. Last night’s retirement dinner confirmed the fact that he remained true to himself through all the twists and turns of a career that took him from airport ticket agent in Honolulu to Vice President of Human Resources in Seattle…via The Big Apple, New York City.

One of three executives who retired the beginning of this year, my husband listened as others spoke of their personal and professional experiences with him throughout the years.

The man who heads the entire brand has known my husband since their younger days working at another cruise line headquartered in NYC. That’s going back some 30+ years. My husband was then a reservations supervisor; the other, a purser on board one of the ships. I didn’t know him then. We only became acquainted about 6 years ago, when my husband moved out of Guest Programs into Human Resources and reported directly to his former colleague, now in charge of the whole operation here on the West Coast.

Small world. Even smaller when folks remain in one industry throughout their entire careers. Our daughter, the dancer, will confirm that.

It’s always deeply moving for me when others reiterate the same qualities I most admire in my husband…his compassion…his fairness…his trustworthiness…his calming influence. Once a prospect for the priesthood…before we met, obviously…he has never lost his Christianity. He continues to practice his faith in God and others…in all ways.

Last night some jokingly referred to him as a saint, including his boss.

During one of our first arguments as newlyweds 44 years ago, I asked if he knew how hard it was living with a saint. Genuinely hurt, he said that was the worst thing I could have said. Of course I never went there again. Nonetheless…it isn’t always easy trying to modify my behavior according to someone who is so uniquely wired.

I had worked for a number of corporations before opting out of the rat race for the best career ever handed me…motherhood. None has been more satisfying or rewarding. I got out what I put in. I couldn’t say that about the corporate jobs I’ve had. I always felt I put in more than I got out. It was always…”manana”…tomorrow. Do this today and you MIGHT see some payback tomorrow…or the next day…the next year… or the year after. I didn’t have that kind of patience. Still don’t. A little better, but not the same as my husband’s.

I’ve always felt, still do, that employees are a reflection of those for whom they work. They embody the corporation’s principles. The management style of the person at the top filters down throughout the entire workforce. Great employees are a credit to a great boss; on the flip side, a mediocre boss inevitably breeds mediocrity among his employees.

Having had access to the back story via what I saw for myself as well as what my husband confided in me, the corporation from which he recently retired was the best I’d seen in all my time in and around the business world. 

The man at the top, my husband’s boss, held to the same values as us…uncompromising integrity and family above all else. The leaders he chose to effect his agenda were men and women who demonstrated similar principles. I can attest to it because I met many of them, even getting to know some well. Talk of family, interest in our daughter’s dance career, was always part of the conversation. And, of course, we always asked after their children’s well-being and what they were doing.

My husband’s boss and his wife are the only executive couple with whom I have ever been able to speak freely and from the heart. So I guess it was no surprise to them, that when after all other speeches were made, including those by the retirees themselves…I asked if I could say a few words.

Speaking from the heart…as Hawaiians do so well…I explained the attachment I felt to my husband’s boss and his wife. Once, some time ago, at a social function I had said I would have loved being both their mothers. (They are good people. They would make any mother proud. Having met both sets of parents, I understand why they became who they are.)

I went on to explain to those gathered my own corporate career experience, and how I’d never witnessed the same familial environment apparent in my husband’s company. I credited that fact and my husband’s ability to thrive within such an atmosphere…to his boss’s management style. One that wasn’t only focused upon “the bottom line,” but also upon the coming together as…ohana…Hawaiian for “family.” 

In conclusion, I asked that those present…all in varying leadership positions within the company…”hang onto that feeling of ohana. That it is a rarity, as much now as in the past.

Hugging both the CEO of Holland America Group, Stein Cruse, and his wife Linda, I said I loved them. She and I shed tears as we hugged. Just like a daughter… And he stooped to embrace me in a bear hug, whispering that it was sweet of me. Just like a son…

Public speaking has never been my forte. My voice cracks. I ramble. I say things which might make most husbands and daughters cringe with embarrassment. Fortunately for me, mine “get” who I am. As my daughter explained…whatever I know might go public. She knows too that it’s only done out of love and compassion.

I have no filter when it comes to praising others. I say what I feel. Perhaps because I craved approval the better part of my life, and probably still do, I give it freely whenever I am afforded the opportunity.

Seeing others warmed by a few words of praise…blesses me.

And so I count my blessings…

…as often as i can.

………hugmamma.

Enjoy other inspirational words at
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/nurt-thurs-you-are/

 

 

living her best life…#37: wabi sabi

Wabi Sabi. A phrase I’ve now heard 3 times within the last couple of months. A phrase I’d never heard before.

Pat’s husband Brad first mentioned Wabi Sabi just about the time she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis. Then Pat’s sister Mary spoke of it again in an email. I’d been meaning to bring it up in a post, but never did. And so…the “third time’s the charm.”

A Blog for Humans at   https://tomrains.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/sehnsucht/  defined Wabi Sabi as “a Japanese philosophy concerning the beauty of imperfection.”

The beauty of imperfection. 

Describes Pat’s life at the moment…at least insofar as how Pat is living her life…in light of her health issues.

Life really is as the Japanese perceive it…Wabi Sabi. 

Beautiful in its imperfection.

Following is an email from Pat updating her “imperfectly beautiful life.”

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

Hi [hugmamma…]

How is Sitka doing? I felt so sad reading your post about him. It was really hard when Lady died. It took a while but I’m finally ready for another dog, but the timing is just not right. And how is the renovation going? Smoothly, I hope! I’m not sure if my text messages from my phone are going through, so wanted to give you another update, as things are starting to move forward…

First things first, though. Had an enjoyable, busy weekend. Saturday was a bridal shower for John’s (my nephew) fiancee, Estee. Then we got together on Sunday at Johnny’s (my brother) because Carol and her family are in town for the week. Any time family’s together is a good time…

I’m still working 3 days a week and will start doing half days on most Thursdays. Basically, I’m running out of sick leave and vacation time! There’s a “shared leave” program at work where co-workers can donate leave. My boss says there’s a lot of interest from people at work who want to donate, so I’ve put in a request and hopefully will get some additional time. I’ve also put in for leave without pay for June – August. I will be able to keep my medical benefits as long as I pay my premiums, so I wanted to make sure to set that up.

We just got a letter from the Mayo Clinic scheduling my first appointment for May 11. Chemo is scheduled to end Wednesday, May 6, so the following Monday we’ll be in Minnesota. The Kaiser transplant coordinator told us Mayo said to plan on staying for 2-3 days. That doesn’t help us much so we are trying to get more details before we make our travel arrangements. I have 2 appointments the first day we’re there which look like a consultation and possibly a bone marrow biopsy. Kaiser has said all along that the Mayo Clinic will most likely want to do their own tests, etc. So there could be additional appointments while we’re there.

Brad and I still have so many questions, as well as a lot of preparation for the trip and beyond. 

Ethan will still be in school. Need to make arrangements for him to stay with Brad’s sister. Aiden is due to return home on May 10, so we’ll be crossing paths in the air. What’s unknown is how soon after this first trip we’ll be returning to the Mayo Clinic for the actual transplant. We’ve learned that they won’t want to wait too long from the time I end my chemotherapy before starting the transplant process. So we’re guessing we’ll fly home only to fly back soon after. Not so easy when traveling from Hawaii!

It’s still a little ways away, but I get anxious if I think about it too much. Just have to take it one day at a time, because…

…life goes on…things needing to be done this week…a meeting with our tax consultant…chemo treatments…

…and things to look forward to…John and Estee’s wedding in a couple of weeks…the annual Easter brunch at our house.

Maybe we can talk on Wednesday or Thursday morning? Chemo on Wednesday is at 1 p.m. 

Anyway, must be going. Trying to gather all our tax papers for tomorrow’s meeting.

Love to you and the family,

…and all my supporters…

…pat…and hugmamma.

 

living her best life…#36

In response to Pat’s email in the previous postclose friend Lei, a college counselor, wrote back…

Hi Pat,

Am I the worst Catholic ever if I don’t know who Mary Helen is? She sounds like an important nun and I’m embarrassed if I’m the only one who isn’t familiar with her work. I’ll have to google her.

Glad to see your sense of humor is intact. LOL. That’s a good sign.

I gather the poi (a traditional Hawaiian food) I dropped off didn’t do it for you, huh?

Keep your chin up, Pat.

You know I’ve become sort of an expert in this field, and you’re doing a fabulous job!!!

I love you tons and you’re always in my prayers. I’ll call later to get some nourishment into that body of yours.

HUGS AND SQUEEZES…Lei.

living her best life…#35

Pat updated immediate family and close friends on her condition about a week-and-a-half ago. Following is what she had to say…

It’s been a while so I thought I’d send a quick update. Being that I haven’t sent any in a bit is a good sign. It means everything remains the same.

I’m tolerating the chemotherapy and haven’t had any really bad side effects. It’s mainly been fatigue and feeling somewhat loopy. Don’t know how else to describe it.

Still trying to find the right foods that also taste good and are nutritionally best for optimal health. Thank goodness for the internet…there’s a lot of info out there.

I usually work 3 days a week, unless I have other appointments. This Wednesday will mark the halfway point for my current treatment.

According to my doctor, my labs suggest that I’m “responding to treatment with disease improvement.” His response was to an email I’d sent him about a week ago. I think it means we’re on track insofar as controlling the cancerous cells/protein deposits…in preparation for my transplant. Brad and I will have a chance to ask questions and get more detailed information when we meet with him next week. (No worries. Doc is…wwwaaayyy…more personable than it might seem.)

Other than that, things are as normal as can be…considering.

One trippy note.

Out of the blue, cousin John called last week. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with him in my life! We’d see him during the holidays when I was just a little girl. As a teenager he couldn’t be bothered with me. 

John had me try to guess who was calling. I had no clue. The only person who came to mind was Jimmy (my brother-in-law). LOL! (hugmamma here: I’d say that was a pretty good hunch.) It’s a good thing John didn’t keep me in the dark for too long and indicated that he was family right off the bat. Otherwise I probably would have hung up on him. Julie warned him that might happen.

Anyway, John called to see how I was doing. After the initial shock wore off, it was pretty cool to talk to him…getting philosophical and all. I wasn’t aware that he hasn’t completely recovered from a stroke he had about 2 years ago. John assured me that he and the rest of his siblings, including Sister Mary Helen and her fellow nuns in Rome, are praying for me. How cool is that?

I’ve also heard from Aunty Therese and cousin Marion as well.

Well, I’d better get on with my day. I’m off from work since I had to go to one of those “other appointments.” Loads of laundry to do. Which reminds me…Aiden is home this week for spring break. He’s loving the warm weather and surf at Makapu’u and Sandy Beach.

Chat again soon. Love you all always…

…and all my supporters.

………pat…

………and hugmamma.

rethinking the…good ole’ days

As with anything, there are probably advantages to joining sororities and fraternities. Unfortunately the disadvantages seem to be making front page news these days.

Such elite groups never held much allure for me since they imply a certain social standing, and/or pedigree.

I’m more of a mutt. And I’m fine with that.

It never occurred to me to “rush” a sorority. I was too preoccupied with making ends meet while in college…working 20+ hours a week at the university bookstore…while maintaining grades that would continue to qualify me for my scholarships.

Too bad I never really learned of the good rendered by these campus organizations, for now I have almost nothing to compare with all the horrible stuff being reported.

Could it be that what’s been outed by social media has been closeted as a deep, dark secret all along?

Or perhaps those not inclined towards such behavior remained silent for fear of being ousted? Or worse, thrashed to within an inch of their lives…if not physically, then verbally and mentally?

Sad.

Sad for those involved.

Sad for those not involved.

Sad for those institutions of higher education.

Sad for society.

Sad for America. 

Even more sad for those who raised these young ‘uns to denigrate others…as well as themselves.

Seems to me the folks who are clamoring to return to the days of “me and mine,” continue to hold fast to the values and prejudices of those bygone times. And worse, they still permeate the moral fiber of their kin…

for generations to come.

………hugmamma.

touch and go…

Another pet will probably be leaving us soon.

IMG_4985Sitka…who thinks he’s a lap dog…not a “leave me to my own devices” feline. If he could attach himself to my body…or anyone’s for that matter…he would. His life is intricately intertwined with his humans. He doesn’t want to be anywhere except with us. If he could curl up around our necks and live there, only uncurling himself to eat and do “his business,” he would.

Sitka’s nearly 14…a long life in cat years. Not long enough for him, I’m sure. He’ll always be young at heart, living the carefree life of the youngster he most assuredly thinks he is. Always reaching up the length of my body to be carried…to be snuggled…to be loved like a child. 

Sitka, who could never get enough love it seems. Makes me wonder what his life before 8 weeks had been like. I adopted him, and his sibling Juneau, from the local animal shelter around that time. It was the day after 9/11. They were my own personal homage to lives lost on that horrific day. Diagnosed as having “worms,” I had to keep them apart from my two other cats so they wouldn’t contract the disease.

IMG_2145For a month Sitka and Juneau lived in our downstairs bathroom, much to their dislike. Every day I had to scrub down the floors, counter tops, toilet, shower stall and sink with disinfectant so that the cats would not reinfect themselves with those nasty little buggers. Every day I had to spend quality time with them closed off from the rest of the family, assuring my little boys that they were loved. Every day they tried to rip the door off its hinges…literally…in an effort to escape solitary confinement. Once my husband even had to take the door off its hinges. The boys had pulled out a drawer of the cabinet so that we couldn’t even open the door. Funny now. Sheer pandemonium then.

When we moved to Washington in 1998, we brought along 2 cats…sisters, Fudgie and Sunkist. After 9/11, Sitka and Juneau joined the family. A few years later our dear Mocha ruled the roost as the only dog. They all figured out how to make the most of their living arrangements.

Being the least inclined to follow anyone’s lead, Sunkist was the grand dame. Fudgie seemed to shrink from contact, preferring to hover nearby instead. Sitka, the friendliest of the bunch, wanted to be pals all around. Juneau preferred to body-slam his affection, especially with Mocha who tolerated, sometimes even tussling with his unlikely opponent. Once we had to reprimand Mocha for dragging Juneau a few inches by the scruff of his neck, as well as scold Juneau for making a nuisance of himself with Mocha.IMG_5213

IMG_4990When grandkitty Misha came home with his mom, our daughter, to vacation or, on occasion, to spend several months…or a year, the house would be in an uproar. Misha usually flounced his weight around, gaining the upper paw by sheer magnetism and charisma. He is one cat who doesn’t cotton to occupying the lower rung on any ladder, animal or human. As with the others, he soon learned that grammy…me…was the predominant alpha. Once he learned that golden rule…Misha settled in just fine with the others. Oh, he still drove me up the walls…splashing water all over the place in an effort to clean himself off while drinking water. We went through several innovative concoctions, not to mention types of water bowls, to save the wood floors from being drenched and eventually warping. Now that he’s happily settled in with his mom again, she has that headache with which to contend. And I can return to carrying on about what a cute, little grandkitty he is…from 3,000 miles away. Although I do love him as much as my own boys.

Sitka’s blood platelet count has been descending rapidly…for some unknown reason, it seems. The vet, a compassionate man who has doctored to Sitka’s needs since he was 8 weeks old, suspects cancer. In an effort to stabilize and even elevate his blood count, the doctor is trying every and all medication he can think of to turn things around for our little fella. In the end, however, it is about quality of life. I never want any of our pets to suffer for our sake. Once we become aware that they are struggling to hang on…it’s time to let go…and remember them during the best of times.

By the end of the week our little man might be gone…joining siblings Sunkist, Fudgie, Mocha and even earlier family members, Sushi our Shitsu and Bandit our Persian,(and many others before that for there was never a time I was without pets.)

I still have all their ashes…in little, floral tins provided by the crematoriums. One day I will spread them out in the garden so that they will be remembered year round as I wander about…among the flowers…the fallen leaves…the light dusting of snow.

…remembering those who love us…unconditionally.

………hugmamma.

(Move your cursor over each photo to read captions.)

Enjoy more pet shares at
https://hopethehappyhugger.wordpress.com/michelles-weekly-pet-challenge/

living her best life…#34

Been a while since we’ve traveled life’s path…with Pat. We’ve both been busy with other happenings. She spent a lovely week catching up with her eldest son, Aiden, home on spring break. I’m sure it was a little sad for both of them when he returned to college on the mainland. 

My husband and I are in the throes of another remodel. Our last, thankfully. Almost as big a one as when we had our kitchen/dining/living area done nearly a decade ago. So that our late 70’s split level continues to work for us empty-nesters, we decided to turn the downstairs into our master bedroom retreat. Thoughts of cozy nights in front of a gas fireplace and an extra bedroom turned into a walk-in closet conjured up the good life…finally realized. However, as with all great things…there’s a price to pay.

As anyone who’s been through a remodel will tell you “It ain’t easy.” Spending months tripping over stuff stored everywhere but in our bed is no fun. Managing the project is also mind-boggling at times. Not to mention trying to keep us on a diet which means cooking tasty AND healthy…all the time. Of course that’s been haphazard now that we’re totally caught up in moving the renovations along as smoothly and quickly as is coherently possible. There have been glitches here and there, especially in the selection of light fixtures. It’s been my first and only experience with online shopping. If choosing from a myriad of fixtures is this difficult…I can’t imagine how single folks ever decide on dating partners from online images. By far a more important selection than if a flush mount fixture gives off enough light.

Decided to set these mundane things aside…truly unimportant by comparison…for a little while anyway, to remind us of what’s really important. Enjoying life with those we love for as long as we are able. Following is Pat’s unvarnished reflections on just that.

More Birthdays…and then some.

I already told you how my friends and I celebrated our 50th birthdays last year. I have another group of friends with whom I celebrate birthdays.

Our friendships came about because our boys were in kindergarten/elementary school together. Our boys have played sports together, our families have gone skiing together and we’ve been celebrating our birthdays for over 10 years. The boys have gone their own ways, but the moms have remained friends to this day.

These birthday celebrations aren’t fancy and don’t take months of planning. More like “It’s your turn next. What do you want to do?” Today was Maria’s turn. We celebrated at her house with take-out Chinese, wine instead of tea, and a fruit tart with ice cream instead of fortune cookies. (This is Hawaii where anything goes when it comes to food. hugmamma here: Ain’t that the truth!!!)

These are the women I met later in life, who have become lifelong friends. Besides our boys, the ties that bind us are the trials and tribulations both good and bad, that come with age…stress from our kids (a given), infidelity (a bad thing), divorce (mostly a good thing), and serious illness (a new topic).

Sharon was the first of this group that I told about my diagnosis. I knew it was going to be the hardest phone call to make and I waited until the very last moment…the night before my very first chemo treatment. It was hard and I know she was holding back tears. I asked her if she could let everyone else know what was going on. I didn’t think I could make six more phone calls. So she did.

Right away Priscilla offered to help Sharon with the phone calls. Priscilla also promised to keep me laughing and always send funny things she finds on the Internet. Erin, ever the librarian and teacher did some research online and had suggestions on what books to read. Sharon brought me those books, along with a blanket to use during treatment. She also brought food over. The others emailed me words of encouragement, prayers and offers to help in any way.

All except one.

I didn’t know if she was still in Hawaii. We’d heard she might be moving. I know she’s going through a tough time herself, but I don’t really know…none of us do…what’s going on. The last time we were all together, she didn’t want to talk about it and she’s been kinda AWOL ever since. Although she couldn’t make it to Maria’s birthday get-together at least she responded to the emails going around. I thought “great!” maybe things are okay, but still she didn’t email me directly. I wondered why. I wasn’t upset, just a little surprised, but didn’t worry too much about it. I’ve been in the position of not knowing what to do or say to someone and ended up doing nothing at all.

And then today it hit me! WHY AREN’T I REACHING OUT TO HER? OMG! NEWS FLASH! A cancer diagnosis DOES NOT mean the world now revolves around me. Someone…anyone…slap me! Sheesh! I feel like such an idiot. (hugmamma here: Been there…done that! Pretty sure we all have…)

Turns out she’s going through a really rough time. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t need to know either. I do know she doesn’t want to talk about it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about other stuff. I’m not doing nothing this time around.

I finished reading a really good book a couple of weeks ago, and this friend was the first person I thought about. Although she is a published author and knows way more about the world of authors and publishing, I’d always let her know when I came across an awesome read. I don’t know why I hesitated this time…because she didn’t email me first?…or because she’s hiding out? Either way it doesn’t matter. I will email her. I hope she responds, but if she doesn’t that’s okay. At least she’ll know I’m here if she wants to talk books…or anything else.

And FYI, if you like memoirs the book is Maude by Donna Mabry.

…good to remember…that we’re all trying to live our best lives.

…thanks, pat.

………hugmamma.

right here in the u.s. of a. ???…

Pretty scary to realize that in 2015 there continues to be pockets of blatant discrimination against people of color right here in our own backyard.

No. I’m not naive enough to think our country’s record is impeccable or even spotty at best, but to know that Fergusson, Missouri police can arrest innocent people “just because,” is totally unfathomable. 

When we look down our noses upon what’s going on in the Middle East, clucking our tongues as if to say “My, my. Those poor, unfortunate people running from the violence and terrorism overtaking their countries,”…let’s remember the Fergussons right here at home where many live in fear of being terrorized by law enforcement, sometimes with violent consequences.

When I hear of occurrences like what happened in Fergusson, my gut reaction is to make sure I never, ever visit such a backward-thinking place. And I’m not denigrating third-world countries where they may not know better. I’m talking about towns in our own country where folks SHOULD know better.

Laziness is no excuse. Stupidity maybe. I think I could forgive stupid people, although I wouldn’t hang out with them. Lazy people? Not so much.

Not that the folks in Fergusson care whether or not I set foot in their town. It’s just with all the negative publicity, it’s more than likely nobody outside the town will ever want to visit. That too is probably okay with Fergusson folks, especially law enforcement.

…just needed to let off steam…

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

living her best life…#33

Last week Pat wasn’t feeling so great. Not because of her chemotherapy treatment, but as a result of the side effects of homeopathic supplements prescribed by her naturopath intended to boost her immune system. It’s always trial and error attempting to learn what works and what doesn’t. 

Since then Pat’s had an awesome experience which I’m certain gave her spirit the boost she needed. No doubt about it.

Just won the Division II State Championship Soccer title!!!

Brad and I are not at the stadium. We watched the game on TV. The team won handily, beating Kamehameha Hawaii from the big Island by 7 to 1. 

It was so cool to see all the boys on TV as well as the parents whenever the cameras panned the crowd. What touched me most was hearing the announcers mention that the white arm bands worn by the boys were for “Aunty Pat.” There was also a colorful poster hanging in the stands which read…Get well Aunty Pat…from da Boys. Seeing that brought a lump to my throat.

Not only did we get to watch the game, but we were also provided dinner by one of the soccer families. Lynn and her son Justin had dropped the meal off earlier in the day. This is the fourth week our soccer friends have provided us with prepared food.

I’m still in awe at the level of support we continue to receive.

The team, along with their families and friends, are celebrating tonight’s win with a big potluck just outside the stadium. Another family took candy leis we’d provided to give to the boys from us. They will be up to their eyeballs in leis…literally! They will probably be bursting with pride as each of them has his picture taken with the trophy. 

Finally, the parents can let out a big sigh of relief. The season is nearing an end. All that’s left is the end-of-the-year banquet which is always tons of fun. It’s what we did last year…and previous ones as well. Can you tell we kinda miss it?

Anyway, just wanted to share this moment as it was quite special and meaningful for both Brad and me.

Chat again soon…

…love you always…

…and all my supporters.

………pat…and hugmamma.

living her best life…#32: second cycle of treatment

More from Pat as we continue to follow her journey through the everyday challenges of living with…multiple myeloma and amyloidosis.

Received the following last thursday.

Hi [hugmamma]…

It’s now after 1 a.m.. The steroids make it hard to sleep. It’s not like I’m bouncing off the walls. I feel tired, but I just can’t fall asleep. Brad’s snoring doesn’t help. Since Aiden left for college, I can use his bed if I get desperate.

Yesterday was the first day of my second 4-week treatment cycle. Fortunately, it went just fine…like the previous cycle of treatments.

There were a lot of patients again today. I’m getting use to it.

I took the last available seat when my name was called. Sitting next to me was the woman I saw during a previous appointment who was just beginning her treatment. Her daughter was with her again. They both smiled at me. I didn’t recognize them at the time, but now that I think about it…that’s who they were.

Unlike previously, I did not feel guilty about doing better than others. I realized we all cope in our own way.

Those with seemingly lengthy treatments have family popping in now and then to ensure all is well. Some are talking on their cell phones. Some are preoccupied with their IPads or laptops. And some are enjoying their snacks…as if they were at home in their favorite recliner. I had to smile at one guy who was out like a light…”sawing some serious wood.” As for me, I was able to write some overdue thank you notes. Now I just have to remember to mail them tomorrow. [hugmamma here: Pat remembered. Her thank-you note to my husband and me read…

Thank you for the Valentine’s Day gifts.

I really enjoyed the movie MALEFICENT! And Ethan hasn’t found the chocolates yet.

Thank you also for your continued love and support. Those quick text messages are a great comfort. And the emails and blog keep me in the right frame of mine.

I miss you guys and can’t wait until we can visit in person.

Love always…Pat.

[hugmamma here:These words brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. Lucky for me, I married her brother…and gained…a loving…lovely…younger sister.]

I was with three other patients towards a back corner of the room. We were all facing one another and it seemed as though we were in our own separate sitting area. I thought “Wouldn’t it be fun if we were all chatting gaily while having mani-pedis???” Hmmm…I wonder if the Oncology Department has a suggestion box?

Before going in for my treatment, Brad and I went to visit his parents. I think it helped for them to see me looking like my old self. When they offered lunch, I was so hungry I said “YES, PLEASE!!!”

Evidently I’d not had enough, because after my treatment I went to Costco’s food court while Brad was in Home Depot. I felt no guilt as I enjoyed a mocha freeze. I need the calories!

Took my home meds. Much easier with regular pills that dissolve more readily than the gel-coated capsules. Still tastes yucky though!

Over the weekend I had started a food journal as the dietitian I’m seeing had suggested. It made me aware of what I was eating which is something I want to continue. Journaling also ensured I ate…AND made smarter choices. At least I think I did. What I’m not certain about is if I ate enough. I emailed the information to the dietitian, so I’ll see what she says.

Browsed through my cancer-fighting cookbook and made a shopping list. Looking forward to trying the recipes.They sound pretty good and I think my family would enjoy them as well. Most of them contain ingredients which I already have or which I readily recognize. I’m sure I can find what I need at Whole Foods or in the organics/health foods sections of our local grocery stores. I must confess to only recently discovering these aisles. Imagine how shocked my shopping cart was…as it rolled warily through uncharted territory!

Looking forward to the weekend. Have a Reiki session with Mica on Sunday morning. And the State Soccer Tournament is also this weekend. Aiden’s high school team, MPI, is the number one seed for Division II.

That’s it for another “new normal” day. I’m going to try and get some sleep so I’m not dragging tomorrow. I’ve got a lot of healthy shopping to do!

Love you always…[and your family].

…and hugs to all who continue to offer…love and support.

…pat………and hugmamma.

living her best life…#31

A belated HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!! 

Was just reminded I missed sending out hugs to one and all. And yet it’s never too late for…

HUGS…ALL…AROUND!!! February 2011 00053Pat reminded me of my oversight when she emailed the following.

To update you on our Valentine Day’s weekend…

The power surge during the storm killed our TV. So in the afternoon, under sunny skies…you know our Hawaiian weather, bad one minute, glorious the next…we went to Best Buy to get a new one. Stopped by W&M Burger in Kaimuki on the way home. It took me a while but I managed to eat a Royal Burger. Do you remember that place? [Hugmamma here: No, I don’t, but you’re making me “ono” for one…with all the fixins’!]

We watched Maleficent later that night and I loved it! I especially liked the idea that “true love” exists between a child and a parent. I realize Maleficent wasn’t Aurora’s mother…but she acted as though she was because of how she doted on Aurora.

Didn’t do anything special for Valentine’s Day. Just had take out from Zippy’s. Ate something from the fridge instead.

Sunday afternoon friends from our son’s soccer team stopped by with dinner. They visited for a while which was really nice. After they left we heated up the food they brought for us…squash soup…chicken/eggplant stir fry…Chinese style veggies and long rice. All yummy!

That night we packed up a futon and blankets and went to Sandy Beach. 

Sat in the back of Brad’s truck.

I drank hot chocolate; he had coffee.

We looked up at the heavens…and watched the stars.

Lots of shore fishermen were out that night.

After the storm the previous day, Sunday was calm and clear.

On Monday we met Brad’s friends for a picnic and some shore line fishing. 

Brad caught one Oio. That was about it. He gave it to a family fishing a little ways down from where we were.

His friends brought tons of food. The aromas coming from food cooking on the hibachi smelled so good! I made sure to bring something I could eat…including leftover squash soup.

Later when we arrived home…WOW!!!…we found a cooler full of food in our garage. Thanks to Brad’s sister.

Today, Tuesday, I was back at work. Boy! Was my in-tray full!

Didn’t have to cook dinner tonight since we still had a bunch of leftovers.

Checked my blood test results. Everything still looks good. And if I’m reading my numbers right, some of them may have gone up.

Tomorrow is the first day of the second cycle of my chemotherapy treatment.

Oh! And they changed my meds from capsules to tablets which melt more easily in water. No more trying to swallow the gummy, outer coating of the capsules. Yuck! Should be lots quicker to take. Won’t taste better, but at least I won’t be in the bathroom for half-an-hour.

That’s it for now. Until next time…

…love to you, your family…

…and all my well-wishers!

………pat…and hugmamma.

living her best life…#30

We all have moments of reflection. Although most of us never need to contemplate…living with cancer, day in and day out.

Reading Pat’s thoughts on how she deals with her “new normal,” is humbling. I’m less likely to think about what ails me.

Hi [hugmamma],

Haven’t emailed in a while, so I’m glad we got to talk last week.

I realized I’ve been putting off emailing about my last treatment.

For some reason I feel compelled to record something each time…be it good or bad. So I must do this before I forget how I felt last week.

Treatment went as well as the three previous ones.

Had a different nurse, Etta. She was young and pretty like Tara, and just as attentive. 

My appointment was earlier than usual. That seemed to make a big difference. It was crowded! Patients occupied every chair. 

I was struck by the fact that so many people are fighting cancer. It was more than a little disconcerting.

My chair was in a sunny corner of the room.

As in the past, I was in and out while those who were there before me were still being treated when I got up to leave.

I realized that being there for some time, meant some of the patients had to haul their IVs along with them when they visited the bathroom. Some brought snacks or meals. Whether or not they could keep from upchucking their food was another matter.

It seemed to me I was the youngest patient. Or maybe it just felt that way…

More than that I felt rather fortunate not to have suffered any serious side effects. I haven’t lost my hair, or my appetite. Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit more tired and achy, but really…I have NOTHING to complain about.

It’s weird, but I’ve been feeling a bit guilty. Especially when I think about folks I know who had a really difficult time while undergoing cancer treatment. I was warned as to how awful it would be, and what all they had to endure. Truthfully…I have yet to deal with any of that.

I know it’s still relatively early in my treatment process, but I thank God every day.  After all…every day…is another day. And that’s a good thing.

I’ll remember that, should I have a bad day.

Thinking about last week’s treatment leaves me teary-eyed, but it’s something I had to get off my chest…feeling guilty.

So thank you for being my sounding board. I’ve said it before.

It does help.

…love you always…pat.

…love you more…

………hugmamma.