Three Weeks

A month ago I had a routine mammogram, and a few days later I got the news.

The news, via the Internet, telling me (in somewhat technical language) that they didn’t like what they saw and I needed to come back for further testing. I was on the phone in a heartbeat, making that appointment, only to be told they couldn’t get me in for three weeks.

I’ve had so many mammograms and they always came back negative (as in nothing wrong), so it hadn’t even occurred to me this one might be problematic.

I did a self-exam (something admittedly I’m typically lax in doing) and felt a small bump. That’s what they tell you to look for — a lump the size of a pea.

I went to work that night knowing my life might change in three weeks. Three weeks! I had to wait that long.

The next day I contacted my doctor’s office to see if they had any clout in getting me in earlier. They didn’t.

Three weeks!

It was, as you might imagine, a long three weeks. I was able to put it out of my mind for short periods of time, even telling myself they couldn’t have been that concerned about what they saw or they would have gotten me in earlier. But I wasn’t sure about that. Still, for the most part, I was able to maintain my equilibrium. I didn’t tell anyone and as far as I know, no one suspected anything.

I didn’t check the bump again. I didn’t get on the Internet and research everything. I figured the testing would tell me everything I wanted to know.

So yesterday I went in for the ultrasound. Even longer than the three weeks was the wait in the lobby. The television set was airing an episode of Love It or List It. I didn’t care what the homeowners did.

And longer than that was the wait between the time they did the ultrasound and the time they gave me the news — which I’m guessing was five or ten minutes.

When the tech came back in, I could see the relief in her face. It was only a cyst, she told me. Very common. Didn’t mean an increased risk of cancer. Be sure to have my annual mammogram on time. Did I have any questions?

The obvious one, although I didn’t voice it. Why did I have to wait three weeks? For an appointment that altogether took less than 30 minutes?

I don’t have the answer to that, but at least the answer to the other question weighing on me for three weeks was the one I wanted to hear.

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Perspective

Today we received a laughable phone call at work. Let me set this up a bit: I’m working for H&R Block, doing taxes for individuals. Now HRB has policies about using their name in social media, so out of respect for those policies, that’s all you’ll hear me say about the company.

Anyway, the call was from a man wondering if he could claim his “elderly” mother on his taxes (the answer is yes under specific circumstances). How old is this elderly woman? Sixty-four.

That’s not even retirement age!

Now his mother could be frail or disabled, and he’s taking care of her financially and otherwise, so I’ll cut him some slack. The reality for me is, my mom and some of my friends are in their 80s and the last word I’d use to describe them is “elderly.”

Where would we be without generational differences? I recently saw an episode of a favorite series of mine, “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” in which Rob is trying to set up his older, but spry, uncle, with a “mature” lady. The woman he ultimately comes up with barely looks older than the two younger couples to me. I wonder if the writers of that show (yes, some are still alive) roll their eyes now at what they perceived to be mature.

Well, if they even pay attention to the work they did fifty-plus years ago.

Old age for pets comes a lot earlier, and I’m reminded of the time shortly after my cat Paco died. He was sixteen, a good long age for a cat. But when I told an eight-year-old friend of mine how old Paco had been, Gavin grew alarmed.

“He was only sixteen?” he said. He started to cry.

“Oh Gavin,” I said. “That’s old for a cat.”

Gavin clearly was not convinced, so I told his mom about it in case she wanted to talk to him further. She told me he hadn’t yet comprehended life expectancy for different mammals, and it was a point of confusion.

At the age of eight, I think I believed sixteen was the height of womanhood. I give Gavin credit at having a more realistic perspective.

Perspective is everything when it comes to age.

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Cloud Talk

Today I was early for work, so I leaned back in my car and watched the clouds float by. It was a windy day and they were moving quickly.

Like Charlie Brown and friends, I sought images in the sky. First face I saw was a cameo-like profile of s woman. It morphed into the Grinch of Dr. Seuss fame, and then became nothing more than abstract poofs.

I moved on to the image of a mountain lion, and began to wonder if some legends of old found their start in cloud formations. I know the stars inspired some stories, but what about clouds?

What inspires stories, the tall tales or myths of today? We hear sometimes of odd prompts that influenced an author, songwriter or other artist. We don’t see the connection, but it’s there in the mind of the creator.

As for me, I watch the clouds float by and listen to hear what they might be saying.

Photo Credit: © Pakhnyushchyy – Fotolia

The Simple Things

Life’s simple pleasures are the best, the ditty goes, and this is a time when I agree. I’ve been following the Facebook posts of a college friend — who lives 2,000 miles from me but is close in my heart — about her husband’s battle with ALS.

First let me say, Sue is just about the nicest person you could ever meet. I loved her spirit and humor in college, and she was a loyal friend. When she met her husband, he was a widower with a small son. She ultimately adopted that little boy and they have a healthy, supportive relationship today as he seeks the answers we all sought in our 20s.

It hurts that a friend has to watch her husband deteriorate, knowing the worst is to come. Sue has been very honest about her feelings, and one post tugged at my heart. In it she told us the hardest part was the little things, like holding hands when they take a walk. Jerry has to work so hard to walk that that simple show of affection is now lost to him.

So I say, think about the simple pleasures in your life and treasure them, for they may be lost to you tomorrow. Appreciate all that you have without fearing losing it, just  recognizing that we can take nothing for granted.

Because simple pleasures are the best.

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Faith Redefined

Years ago I thought I had the key to all the answers of my faith. It was to be found by listening to the teachings of my conservative Bible professors. Funny enough, I realized later they themselves would freely admit they had more questions than answers, and the more they pursued the answers the greater the number of questions.

I’m not completely dismissing the education I got at that Bible college, nor would I wish for anything to replace the time I spent there. I made friends then who are still among the strongest influences in my life — and whose support I depend upon.

But I do take issue with the idea that all of life’s questions can be answered by the Bible. I don’t think the Bible makes that claim, nor do I believe that any of the writers of either the Old or New Testament intended for us to seek all the answers from scripture. 

It’s designed to tell us about God, and again, there are more questions than answers to be found when dedicating oneself to reading any or all of it. God is bigger than all of us put together. Infinitely bigger. 

I’ve adopted a very Jewish way of thinking — it isn’t the answers to the questions but the questions themselves that are important. I’m comfortable with that way of thinking and believe it to be a more honest way of finding my faith.

So my faith has been redefined over the years, as has just about every other area of my life. The more we live, the more we grow, and the stronger we become. Well, on the inside. I would definitely have to say the outside is weakening.

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The Tide is Turning

Things are turning around. 

In the past few months, I’ve posted about my problems finding a job as well as the stress of having two cats who (suddenly) don’t get along. The latter was due to what’s known as “displaced aggression.” One of my cats, Mimi, saw something that upset her, and she took it out on her brother, Walter.

Well, I’m thrilled to say that’s changed. While Mimi still might growl a little if Walter gets too close, they’re almost back to their old selves. I can’t begin to express what a relief this is. For the past few months, any reminder of my cats brought about feelings of guilt and frustration. I had to separate them, and to do that, one was locked in a bedroom while the other had the run of the place. Then I’d switch.

As you can imagine, that gets a little tricky when you’ve got obligations outside the home. There were times when one of them had to be locked up for eight hours, and that killed me.

Now I even can leave my bedroom door open at night without fear there will be fighting. They’ve worked this out between themselves. Mimi stays with me and Walter goes to the living room. As much as I’d like to have Walter snuggle up to me at night, if that works for them, I’m not interfering.

On the job front, again, good news. I’ve got a freelance writing gig that looks like it will continue for several, perhaps even many, months. Like any new job I’m learning my way, but I believe I’ll be able to do it and do it well.

Thanks to all of you for the encouraging words. For so long it seemed like nothing was going to change, and even though I know that’s not the way life works, it was difficult pushing through it at times.

I’d like to get back to my blogging again, so I hope to see more of all of you soon!

Walter and Mimi are more than willing to help me with my blogging.

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Loss

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Kinzie and Tiffany

Tonight I am grieving the loss of my cousin, Tiffany, who was killed in a motorcycle accident last Wednesday. My heart aches.

She wasn’t actually my cousin, but by the way she came into my life she become one. Her husband, Joe, had previously been married to my cousin Jenna. Joe and Jenna had two daughters: Zoë, who died at the age of four in a car accident, and Kinzie. From what I understand Jen lost custody of Kinzie and another daughter, Peyton, and they went into the foster system.

At some point Joe, who’s had a longtime drug problem, sobered up enough to take Kinzie back. Tiffany became her stepmom and eventually adopted Kinzie. (Peyton, by the way, is living with her father, and the two sisters see each other frequently). We were all so grateful that Kinzie had found this love and support with such a wonderul woman.

Tiffany loved Kinzie very much and the two of them were close. Kinzie is now 15 or 16 (my apologies for not knowing her exact age). My heart is breaking not only for the loss of a truly wonderful woman, but for Kinzie, who has had so much loss in her life.

She’ll be living with her grandmother (Joe’s mom) and she’ll be able to stay in the same school district.

Some of you may remember me writing about the death of my aunt Mary two years ago. That was Kinzie’s grandmother, although Mary was court ordered to stay away from both of ther grandchildren. With good reason. Kinzie mourned that loss as well.

And Joe…I don’t know what’s happening with him, but my guess is it isn’t good.

I’m asking why? Why? and I know I won’t get a satisfactory answer. My loss is nothing compared to that of Tiffany’s children, parents and close family and friends. All I can do is pray for Kinzie and Peyton.