Posts Tagged ‘Cancer’

Rampant Insanity vs. Purpose

May 24, 2012 6 comments
English: The seconds pendulum, a pendulum with...

English: The seconds pendulum, a pendulum with a period of two seconds so each swing takes one second (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most readers here know that I write on occasion in reaction to things in the news. I troll news feeds looking for subject matter for all sorts of things, including poetry. This morning I took my inspiration from my Facebook home page.

A couple of my writer friends had posted links to two stories that left my reactions in a chaotic state of pendulum swing.

The first story reported about a group of 64 high school seniors who were suspended for riding bicycles to school on the same day. You did read that correctly. This Michigan student group merely rode to school on bikes, escorted by police, sanctioned and lauded by the mayor, and then punished for the act.

Can someone point out to me the sanity peeking out of this story? The one official who should have applauded the students’ behavior was the one having conniptions at the other end of it. The principal’s reason for her hysterical reaction? They could have gotten hurt, hit by a car or worse! This with a police escort and the mayor’s approval?

Now you can see the reason for my immediate response. Insanity holds the reins of the school.

Okay, so that’s a bit strong, I admit. The principal’s reaction, however, was far more out of connection with reality than mine. I have my own suspicions as to the real trigger for her reaction.

The point is that just the day before it was reported on Yahoo that a four-year-old girl was kept from inclusion in her class photo because she had her hair up in a bow. Her very neat and tidy hair kept her out of a photo.

Am I the only one who thinks perhaps those presently in charge of schools need a check-up? It seems to me that the irrational responses by school leadership in the past few years are spreading rapidly. But hey, retired teachers can have opinions, too.

When I got to the second story, I could do little but smile. It was about a photographer, Bob Carey, who for the last nine years has traveled around the country taking self-portraits wearing little other than a Pink Tutu. You may have seen the Today Show segment on this man and his inspiration, his wife, Linda.

Bob’s Pink Tutu Project is his response to Linda’s constant battle with cancer, which began nine years ago with breast cancer. He talked with Matt Lauer about getting his courage and inspiration to do the tutu photos by watching Linda journey through her disease. The two now work diligently to make the Project mean something for everyone, everywhere.

Linda talked about knowing that her battle will never go away, that ultimately she will lose. For anyone who’s gone through the battle, either in their own body or watched a loved one take up arms against the disease, this story could bring a smile that means more than a silly pink tutu.

I’ve been there more times than I care to think about with loved ones. As I watched the replay of this broadcast, I wondered how many other spouses do silly, smile-inducing acts to bring relief for a little while to their loved-one. Laughter is medicine. It does help during the battle. And Bob has made his stand for Linda and all the others who sit in chemo chairs each day or have radiation to burn out the invader.

When I look at these two stories, side by side, I wonder at the diversity of response to activities around us. An over-the-top reaction to something wholesome and normal for kids, and an over-the-top response for the good of others who can’t do it for themselves; which would you choose for yourself?

Drop in a comment. Tell me how you see these two events and their impact. I’d be interested to see what you have to say.

Until then, a bientot,


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A Lady of Endurance, Hospitality, and Appreciation

February 23, 2012 3 comments

Taking a look at each of my father’s sisters as a subject has been an interesting process. I began yesterday with the middle sister. Today I’ll look at the eldest sister, taking those memories of my own, as faulty as those might be.

First of three beautiful daughters, and small of physical stature, her birth brought much joy to her parents in the middle of the roaring 20’s. Soulful eyes gazed out onto the world, looking for her place in it. Like all children, she had to wait for the answers to her future.

My aunt helped her parents work the small farm that surrounded them. The culture and the times demanded that all hands keep busy and help tend to the family crops, chores, and everyone’s general welfare. By the time she was ready to enter adulthood, fear and pain would be a constant companion.

This was the woman who, many years later, during my teen years, listened to her daughter and me talk into the night, as we giggled about secrets in the next bedroom. Long evenings passed while the peacocks called from their sentry stations around the horse farm. Summer’s warm, lazy breezes at night fluttered bedroom curtains as we slept in the house she cared for.

And this was the woman who’d lived through what would crush many others.

When my aunt was a teen, polio still crippled individuals and families’ spirits. It was said that she became ill with something that acted suspiciously like that disease. Recovery was long and halting.

Nevertheless, her salvation arrived on the heels of fear and pain. The love of her life came to champion her, to take her in his arms and carry her through life. What could she do but allow this strong, gentle suitor to take her hand, as protector and husband?

With his help and love, she overcame the effects of her illness. It wasn’t easy, but she did it. They started their family and lived as everyone else did on a farm.

Years later, when her son and daughter were in their early teens, a shocking and terrifying event changed the course of her days. Tending the family vegetable garden was challenging in the southern summer heat, yet picking veggies for the dinner table wasn’t considered debilitating.

Within that space between heartbeats terror struck. With the suddenness of an adder’s bite, her vision disappeared in one eye. Her eyes had never been good, but now she was challenged as never before.

When she finally got to the eye doctor, the verdict wasn’t good. The retina was badly torn. She had to face the probability of never regaining her sight in that eye and the other retina wasn’t too stable, either. The doctor’s diagnosis was heart-wrenching.

Instead of flailing around in a soup of depression and self-flagellation, lamenting forever what she’d lost and how unfair life was, she fought to regain as much independence as possible. She learned Braille, retrained herself so that she could continue doing all of those tasks she’d done before the accident. Her family helped as much as possible, which proved sorely needed.

Not long after her trial by blindness began and she’d made significant progress, my uncle was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died a few weeks later, leaving her without her champion of so many years.

She went without escort to her daughter’s wedding. She sat in church each week without the tall, quiet man who’d carried her as a bride. She endured.

For all these long years, she’s kept a home together for herself and her son, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a specialist with thoroughbreds. She never lost her sense of humor, though it was tested many times. Also, her culinary skills could rival many a restaurant.

The years have moved forward, unfolding the future and my aunt’s life. Elderly now, she continues to fight the good fight. Strong faith has lifted her up and sustained her throughout life’s trials.

All I’ve ever needed as an example to help me overcome adversity were the memories I hold of this lady of endurance, hospitality, and appreciation.