Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Another Happy Birthday!

November is one of my favorite months. Why? Because . . . it’s my birthday month! On the 19th, I turned 52 years old!

Some people have anxiety about turning 50 and beyond. Yes, I hate the bagging skin that time has been supplying me generously with, but birthdays bring joy to me not depression.

I love getting older. The fact I am having another birthday makes all the nausea, intestinal issues, lymphodema struggles, surgeries, radiation, UTI's, and my numerous infusions worth it. Five months from now I will have lived with the knowledge of my metastatic disease for four years. In the beginning, I thought I would be dead within a year, but here I am. If I am lucky enough, celebrating my 53rd will be even more awesome.

The weekend before my birthday, my youngest daughter and I traveled with my in-laws to Beech Mountain, NC where my husband’s sister, Becky, lives. Thankfully the weather was beautiful as we moved away from our familiar flat-lands to the winding mountain road leading to her home.

Her new home is beautiful. Every home Becky has ever lived in could have been on the cover of the Better Homes and Gardens magazine. This one is no different.

Recently, she and her husband expanded their living area adding an enormous garage, master suite, and guest bedroom. They will be living in comfort for years to come.

It was evident that Becky had been hard at work not only on her home but in the kitchen. There was a red velvet birthday cake waiting for us. I say “us” because my mother-in-law’s birthday is in November too. She’s74!

In other news . . .
Thanksgiving is almost here. As is tradition, my husband’s family gathers together at his parent’s home. People bring food of all kinds. Since there are so many good cooks on my husband’s mom’s side of the family, there has never been a need for me to cook anything. Instead my contribution involves boiling some water, steeping some tea bags, pouring it into a pitcher, adding some sugar, and I'm done--hmm, sweet iced tea. I like it that way; cooking is not how I like spending my time.

This year Thanksgiving is going to be different for me. I am going to be spending time with relatives on my father's side.

This change from my usual plan began one afternoon a few weeks ago when my sister telephoned.  She had some news to share about our father's sister. We both knew our aunt has been going through some difficult times. Her health has been troubling, and in July her life changed dramatically just as she was turning 80. Her husband--my uncle--died. He didn’t live long enough to see his birthday which was the day before hers. The conversation began with my sister telling me of her plans to visit our aunt and asked, "Is there any way you can join me?"

My immediate thought was there is no way.

Then one evening, my sister-in-law and I were chatting on the telephone about all the different happenings in our lives. I began telling her about what my sister was planning to do and her hope that I could meet her in Louisiana. She listened as I explained the cost comparison I had done between renting a car and flying. The best price I had found so far was for me to fly there on Thanksgiving Day at a ridiculously early hour and fly back on Saturday at another ridiculously early hour in the morning. I was struggling with whether I should just hold my breath and go and hope I don't regret it later or to not go and possibly regret that too. At that point she made an unexpected gesture. One I will never forget.

She said, “Hey, let me pay for your plane ticket.”

“No, you don’t have to do that.”

“But I want to.”

“Oh, my god! Really?” I said.

I was going to Louisiana. My cousins and their families will be there. And, my aunt will be smiling. Thank you, Becky!

My best friends from high school. (I am on the right.)
My life is far different than I thought it would be 3 ½ years ago. I have spent time with people I haven’t seen in years and now I am going to see family members that I haven’t seen since 2009 or longer. I am a little apprehensive about the plane ride, but so looking forward to a different Thanksgiving this year.

A few members of my high school graduating class.