living her best life #42: an outpouring of love

When I offered to chronicle her life as a cancer patient, I did so wanting to give Pat an outlet to vent, to get her feelings onto “paper” and out of her head. Blogging these last 5 years has been cathartic for me; I thought it might be the same for my sister-in-law. Writing her story was also a way for me to do something more tangible than just praying.

Don’t get me wrong. Prayer is powerful. I just wanted to do something more, and writing was right up my alley.

Pat’s reason for doing this journal was two-fold. She wanted to provide readers with insight into how individuals with cancer live from day to day. Her desire was to help other cancer patients and their caregivers. She wanted them to know…they were not alone.

Equally important to Pat, was to have her journey with cancer chronicled so that she could remember the good moments and the not-so-good ones. She wanted to look back and thumb her nose at the Big C, once she’d beaten it into remission.

It goes without saying that the loving support of family, friends, even strangers, is hugely important to Pat. She’d be the first to say…her strength to endure has come from her community of caregivers. I couldn’t agree more.

In response to an email sent to update those closest to her about her first day at The Mayo Clinic, Pat received the following outpouring of well wishes.

Steph…I’m glad everything is working out…hope you win plenty at the casino!…safe trip home…sending you prayers and warm hugs!
Lei…You’re numbers may be unremarkable, but you my friend are remarkable!…you know I’d be taking you to the Mall of America…nothing beats chemotherapy like retail therapy!…tell Brad to keep you happy, “happy wife…”…love you tons and big nalo hugs!
Richard…Your positive outlook and sense of humor in the face of adversity are such an inspiration…our prayers and positive thoughts are with you and the boys…love you all!!
Bozo…Pat and Brad, just wanted to add the newest member to our family, Lauren, sends her love too…let us know if u need anything…love u.
Mary L….Pat and Brad, you and the boys are always in our thoughts and prayers…we love you!

And then there was the buzz of caring concern and love via text messages to one another…

Wow thank you! I emailed her too and was waiting for a response. Great news! … Thank you Jen for the update. Aunty Pat sounds upbeat…have good feelings. … Thanks Jen. I’m happy to hear the consultation was good! I was praying so hard for her today. Even though this i a type of aggressive cancer – I’m begging God to heal our sister and Aunty. He tells us to pray interceding for others. Join me in prayer and intercede in Pats behalf for God to perform a miracle in her body!! Love you all!! … Thank you Jen. To all – let’s keep one another updated with whatever info we hear. I know we are all concerned for Pat, and hope for the best for her and her family. Love to all. Lil. … Thank you Jen and to all the family for the continued prayers. Miracles happen through the power of prayer! Love you all. Louise. … Thanks, Jen. Also texted aunt Pat to see how she’s doing. So many responses to her email. Everyone is pulling for her. Love, Kathi.

It takes a village sending an abundance of healing sentiments to ensure that Pat’s in a good place. 

…and she’s deserving of all the love being showered upon her.

………hugmamma.

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A Police Officer’s Prayer

We don’t always credit those who stand between us…and the bullet. It’s not a job I would want for anyone I hold dear, for when they leave home in the morning the possibility always exists, more so than most jobs, that these men and women will…not return home. So while I may not always agree with the actions of a few, I salute their resolve to protect our communities and neighborhoods from those who would inflict harm. God bless them as they go about their work, and hold a place for them in heaven when it’s…their time to go to their final home.

…hugmamma.

Samina's Forum for police support

BCSO-DC-595-113 BCSO-DC-595-113

The Policeman stood and faced his God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining as brightly as his brass.
“Step forward now, officer. How shall I deal with You?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To my Church have you been true?”
The officer squared his shoulders and said,
“No, Lord, I guess I ain’t.
Cause those of us who carry badges can’t always be a saint.
But I never took a penny that wasn’t mine to keep,

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Though I worked a lot of overtime when the bills just got too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help, though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God forgive me, I wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place among the people here.
They never wanted me around except to calm their fear.
If you’ve…

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redding ct, like the maui of old

When someone learns that I’m from Maui, she always exclaims “Oh, don’t you miss it? Why’d you ever leave?” I take a breath, preparing to answer what I truly feel in my heart.

Maui as it is today, even as it was 15 years ago, is no longer the island of my childhood. As with the neighboring  islands, in fact as with other popular destinations, tourism has transformed what was a less populous, less commercial, off-the-beaten-track locale into a mecca for the rich and famous, and even the not so rich and famous. Mind you, I came to terms with the drastic change some time ago. On one of my last trips to Maui, years ago, it was apparent that visitors to the island provided a livelihood for the majority of the locals. So I wasn’t about to admonish them as co-conspirators in the “ruination” of Maui, while I left to make my living and home elsewhere.

Before my daughter was born, actually before she was even a possibility, I was returning home to Long Island, New York from a business trip to Kansas City. Seated next to me on the flight was an attractive man dressed in cords and a sweater, appearing very much like a New Englander. Striking up a conversation, we spoke of many things.  One of the topics was where we resided. I explained that while my husband and I lived in Westbury, I wanted to move somewhere reminiscent of my birthplace, Maui. I desired the same small town atmosphere, where neighbors knew each other, where children played together, where there were town parades, fairs, picnics. Without hesitation, my traveling companion blurted “Redding, Connecticut! You should move to Redding, Connecticut!” 

I’d never heard of the town, so my new friend proceeded to describe it as a small, rural community isolated from the hubbub of surrounding towns by vast acres of pristine land, much of which belonged to the town ensuring that they would never be commercially developed. He went on to explain that to enter Redding, one either drove alongside reservoirs which supplied water to the town, or along country roads shaded by trees. The idyllic picture seemed lifted from a postcard. Giving me the name of the realtor who helped find this New York City writer a getaway home, I was convinced that my husband and I needed to make the 75 mile trip north of NYC, in search of Redding.

We got more than we bargained for, as a result of our hunt for a new home. Nearly bereft of hope that we’d be parents someday, Redding was the answer to our prayer. After 16 years of marriage, our daughter was born. The first 11 years of her life were spent in an oasis within the midst of suburban Connecticut. Watching her in those early years was like stepping back in time, into my own childhood Paradise. 

Topographically different, Redding had rolling hills, and a man-made lake in which to swim; Maui boasted a dormant volcano, and ocean waves upon which to surf. Redding’s landscape was dotted with sugar maple trees, whose leaves were seasonally transformed into the colors of the setting sun. So unlike Maui’s tropical palms swaying gently in the evening breezes, as the glassy Pacific waters below mirrored the shining  moon overhead.

In spite of their disparities, the people of both Redding and Maui were alike in their hospitality toward newcomers, and the friendliness within their communities. Schools were small, so while students didn’t know everyone personally, they were aware of everyone through friends or others. Children looked forward to trick-or-treating, door-to-door.  School plays were exciting affairs, as were school dances, and basketball games. Sleepovers were commonplace, as were play-dates and church picnics. Dads coached sports teams and led the Boy Scouts; moms were Girl Scout leaders and drove carpools. Children caught buses to school, or walked. Neighbors helped one another; they prepared meals for a family with a cancer-stricken mom; they cared for children when parents were tending to emergencies; they consoled those who laid loved ones to rest.

My daughter’s memories of an idyllic childhood in Redding  are just that, treasured remembrances. And so it is with the Maui of my youth. So when I’m asked “Wouldn’t you want to live there now?” I always reply,  “The Maui where I grew up is in my heart; it’s with me, wherever I am.” I know my daughter feels similarly about Redding, Connecticut, the town she still calls her home, though she’s not lived there for 13 years.

“home is where your heart is,” truly…hugmamma.

acknowledging trivia

We tend not to notice the “small stuff” we accumulate as part of our daily routine. Sometimes it’s good to pause and take note, for these things must be worthwhile if they’ve become part of our lives. So here’s what makes me “tick.” 

  • Biofreze was recommended to me by my chiropractor for use when I’m too lazy to pull out an ice pack for my aching muscles, which is always. Its label reads “Penetrating, long-lasting pain relief from: Arthritis, Sore Muscles & Joints, Back Pain.” From time to time, I have all of the above, often at the same time. I use it in spray form; my daughter uses a roll-on. This product is a lot easier to use than rubbing on BenGay or Tiger Balm. There’s no residual smell and I don’t need to wash it off my hands so I won’t inadvertently rub some in my eyes. I would imagine it’s obtainable on the internet.
  • Here’s an update on my “dry mouth.” I guess you could say I healed myself when I stopped using antihistamines. Doctors beware!  Here I come!…Interested in being my first patient?
  • Run, don’t walk to your local Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have one, then petition for one! Their merchandise is the closest thing to homemade that I’ve ever tasted. And my taste buds are really finicky, ask my husband, my daughter, my in-laws. My mantra is “If it doesn’t taste great, it’s not worth the calories!” It’s become my husband’s and daughter’s philosophy as well.
  • About my stack of Wall Street Journals, there must be at least 25 shoved into a cupboard waiting to be perused. Yes, I have difficulty tossing them out without so much as a “look-see.” Then there’s the stack of 6 or so in front of me on the computer desk. I looked at them, and saw some interesting articles, which I have yet to fully read. Now you know why I don’t subscribe to anything.
  • Probably won’t read this book for some time, but its title intrigued me “Hero of the Pacific – The Life of Marine Legend John Basilone” by James Brady. Has anyone ever heard of this man? My husband hasn’t, and he’s a walking encyclopedia about World War II. Well, I wanted to read this bio with “…revealing stories of Basilone’s youth in the Rockwellian any-town of Raritan, New Jersey, in the 1920s and 1930s; his first cross-country railroad trip with fellow soldiers in 1935; and his decisions to leave the Army and, later, join the Marines.” Basilone would go on to be a “…Marine gunnery sergeant known to his buddies as ‘Manila John’ ” who “first displayed the courage, tenacity, and devotion to duty that would define the remainder of his brief life and the manner of his death two years later on…Iwo Jima” Sounds like a story about men for men, but it’s also about a small town guy just doing his best with what life served up. Mightn’t this be any man, or woman’s, biography?
  • Had unexpected company for dinner this evening. A nephew and his girlfriend “Facebooked” me asking if we wanted to meet for dinner since they’d be in our “neck of the woods.” We invited them to dine with us. So I set aside blogging for a few hours, and my husband eased out of his recliner where he was watching “Patton” on TV. We drove to Trader Joe’s for a few groceries, came home and threw together a nice meal. It was a pleasant change to spend time with young folk. They’re in their 30’s, so they were old enough to “get” our humor, like my husband teasing that he’d trade me in for 2 – 30 year olds, a running joke since we were in our 40’s. They seemed to enjoy the side dish of sautéed, seasoned Portobello mushrooms, for  they ate them, without squishing up their faces in disdain. And they didn’t rush off when friends texted asking what time they’d meet up at a local tavern. I think they enjoyed our company too. Our house always rings with laughter, even when my husband and I are the only ones here.
  • Was just cuddling one of my Maine Coone-mixed breed cats, Juneau. He’s so desperate for attention that he tends to body slam anybody or anything nearby. Picking him up is like lifting a Costco size bag of potatoes. Watching him as he burrowed down into my chest, eyes closed as I stroked his head, these lines came to mind: “Three kittens, no mittens, no home, no mom. Three kittens found mittens, found home, found mom, found love.” How can I not love my pets, who give so much and expect so little in return.
  • As you can see, I’ve returned to blogging and my husband is snoring in front of the TV with the “movie looking at him.”  Our nephew informed us that that’s what his dad, my husband’s brother,  said happens when he falls asleep watching TV. I guess like brother…like brother.

will say a prayer for you at Mass…hugmamma.