Friday, July 12, 2013

Happy Happy Joy Joy

I love birthdays. And today it is my birthday. Forty seven years ago today I was born to the Virgin Molly at Columbia Hospital for Women. The hospital is long since gone, now turned into condos. I spent a week there and then on to St. Anne's Home for Infants and Unwed Mothers until I made it to the home of JLS and JWS on Morrison Street in NW DC. They gave it all they knew, were there for the fevers, the tears, the terribles and the terrifics,  which is all I could really ask for anyway. I turned out ok. Twenty eight years later the Virgin Molly got the courage to go to court to see if maybe they could find me. I did not yet have the courage and quickly developed hives from my ankles to my neck along with unrelenting insomnia. Not until I was carrying imac around in my very own belly did I muster up the courage. I was blessed because the Virgin Molly is the real deal, a class act and we've now had 13 years of getting to know each other.

I had a homemade card from Melanoma Man and Butter awaiting me this morning. imac made me a Mother's Day card, which he apologetically said he lost in his bedroom. I told him "It's not really lost if it's in your bedroom. I accept Mother's Day cards anytime of year. We'll find it."

Then at work I returned from my morning meetings to find my desk covered in birthday confetti, streamers, banners, balloons, cards, homemade granola and gifts.

Even Dustin Hoffman made me happy this week. Also making me happy this week are Regina Spektor and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis . Hope you are having a happy week too!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Vacation part 2- Best Ever Vacation

Hard for even me to believe how well the week turned out. On Day 5 Melanoma Man and I hit the road for Tampa at 7 a.m. We thought traffic would be heavy in Orlando, figuring there would be lots of Independence Day travelers. It was just the opposite. Arrived at Moffitt with plenty of time to spare, so we got to hang out in the radiation waiting room for a bit with other members of the Cancer Tribe. The Stereotactic Radiation Surgery itself took about 40 minutes. It must have seemed interminable to MM since his head, neck and shoulders were in a tightly fitted mask which was then bolted to the table. I asked Dr. Rau to give him oxygen during the procedure and he obliged. Later Melanoma Man thanked me for the oxygen. He said it made all the difference. We stopped at Cracker Barrel on the way home. I ordered comfort food, 2 scrambled eggs and a biscuit. He teased me about my driving, but mostly read the Economist all the way home. It' s just really hard for him to give the reigns or the wheel to someone else, even me.

The next few days were so relaxing. Every morning Melanoma man would hand me his Jacques Pepin cookbook and ask me to place my order for that night's dinner. And he felt better than he has felt in almost a year, likely due to the combination of relief, the oral steroids he took post radiation, and the mandatory temporary holiday from his Vemurafenib during radiation week.

We watched movies every night: Moneyball, Dr. Zhivago, and The Quiet Man. During the day we read books, chatted, and shopped for ingredients for the evening meal. I did absolutely no housekeeping, giving myself permission to just be. 

Wayne returned the children and cat on Monday evening. And still no side effects from radiation, fingers crossed. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Vacation Day 1
Butter, Cha Cha and I hit the road shortly before 10 this morning, arriving in Riverton 4ish. The river is high this year, higher than I remember in the 20 years I've been coming. Melanoma Man, iMac, and cousin Maddy are on the front porch to greet us when we arrive.  They have been waiting for us to go to the river. Melanoma Man drives, with imac and Butter. Maddie rides her bike. I finish unpacking and then walk down the familiar dirt road lined with  dwellings that range from cottage to cabin to house, and past the rows of growing grapes on my right and rows of corn on my left. I am wearing my favorite hat, the one Ella sent. Ella is not here yet, but I am delighted to see Mary McNeill, Janet, and Mary Mac already at the river. Mary McNeill and I talk about books. I record her recommendations on my phone.

Melanoma Man drives back to the house with the kids while I chat for a few more minutes before making my way back to the house.

When I get home I find him in the kitchen, pale, short of breath and sweaty getting dinner ready for kids. "I think tacos are too complicated," he says. 

" How bout if I make the tacos and you go sit on the side porch with the boys."
"Ok," he agrees without protest.

A few minutes later a beigy, tan pick up pulls into the front yard and out steps Duncan. There is no talk of cancer, but all 3 of us know that cancer is the impetus for the visit. It is a welcome visit nonetheless. Melanoma Man says it is the equivalent of the hugs he receives at church since news of his cancer started seeping out. I tell him it is ok. "People love you. Let them."

Later on another pick up arrives. This time Tommy steps out with a loaf of homemade cinnamon bread made by Jan. Brothers Wayne and Doug stop by as well.

Vacation Day 2
iMac and Butter are getting accustomed to being brothers again after a full week apart. I spent the night fitfully, mostly due to an over active cat. Cha Cha had spent his whole day in the car and he had lost time to make up for, leaping from the floor onto the 5 foot tall dresser and then onto my pillow from there seemed to be a good way to spend his night time. I let him out more than once. When ready to come in he would arrive just outside the bedroom window, leaping up to bang on the screen. I gave up around 5, hit the button on the coffee maker and stepped out onto the screen porch to find Cha Cha's gift for me, a now deceased young rabbit. I found a piece of cardboard to slide him onto and walked to the edge of the woods for an impromptu gravesite. Cha ran behind me all the way, as if to say "That's not trash Mom! Don't throw it out."

Melanoma Man snuck off to the grocery store while the kids and I walked and biked to the river. He came home exhausted, dark purplish circles around his eyes, but pleased to have been of service. I offered to make dinner. "No I would like to," he said. "Spaghetti Bolognese!"  

I remembered my Dad coming home from work one night telling Mom about the delicious "pasta" he had for lunch at some downtown DC restaurant. "Pasta? Are you talking about spaghetti? Since when do we call spaghetti pasta?" The memory made me smile and think to myself, "noodles with meat sauce."

After finishing the meat sauce preparation Melanoma Man, Butter,iMac, and cousins Maddy and Jackson ventured to the river for afternoon swim. It is so hot here in the Sandhills of NC with no AC in the summer that the twice daily dips in the cold Lumbee are a necessity. I'm so spoiled that it's hard for me to think of it as a vacation without AC. The White House as the family calls it, is vacant most of the year. Dust and pollen and sometimes petrified squirrels crop up in the house when it is empty. Brother Wayne evicted several families of mice prior to our arrival. In addition the kitchen and bathroom had recently had a good scrub down, so there was less work for me to do this year. I focused on the side porch, sweeping cobwebs, dust, dirt, pollen, wiping down pollen encrusted furniture and airing out cushions. Then I set my mind to the front porch. Cha running behind something small and scared, pounced and almost instantly his second rabbit of the day was dead. It was an affront really. Here I was trying to create order out of chaos, clean out of filth. Here was my cat, stealing this rabbit's life. And I started to cry, not so much for the rabbit, but for the loss of innocence, as I thought about sweet Butter and iMac and all the things I cannot spare them.

Vacation Day 3
Although it rained most of the days the boys managed to get plenty of river time with their cousins, along with a few bike rides around the block, as we say of the dirt road down to the river. Wayne came over in the morning with an ingenious Plan B. His plan is so good that we are now calling it Plan A. Plan A involves Melanoma Man recuperating at home. Wayne will bring the children and the cat home on the weekend. He's left it up to me to break the news of our plan to Melanoma Man, which I think I should do in the morning.

Vacation Day 4
Another night with not much sleep for MM. He called me to the side porch to talk where kid's weren't eavesdropping. "I don't think I should come back to North Carolina the day after radiation. It's just too much"

"Super!" I replied before telling him that Wayne had already hatched a plan and that Wayne and I were in cahoots. He thanked me and Wayne for making him the beneficiary of our plan.

Butter was fine with the plan, freedom from Mom & Dad! iMac cried, but wasn't so distressed that he wanted to go to Moffitt with us tomorrow.

It rained and rained and rained all the way down 95. I don't recall having ever driven through so much rain than I have in the past 3 weeks.