Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Tizzy is tall and lean and beautiful. His movements are graceful and fluid and he slinks about like a cat. He slips in and around spaces, and then suddenly, with a start he'll leap into the air, fling himself about in a twist and with a shriek of delight propel himself toward the sky like an arrow.
It's no surprise that he's a dancer. For several months, when he was a tot, he watched Singing in the rain repeatedly, following along to the steps of Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. He's now enrolled in a children's dance class called Hip Hop Boppers. He's the only boy, and to date, he hasn't noticed.
Tiz thrives on zany energy and gets a thrill out of mischief. When he's in the company of boys, he gets wild. He attracts and is drawn to rascally troublemakers, and when in their presence, he sizzles and cracks with excitement. He's a challenge for individual girls, particularly ones who like to lead. He's not a follower and rebels against intense direction. But within a group of girls, he becomes poised, composed and collected.
He loves his dance class, and being the only boy, he's become a star of sorts. As my husband says, when you're the only boy, you're the guaranteed lead.
Each class starts out with a warm up, dancing with scarves, jumping through hoops. They spend twenty or so minutes doing gym, balancing on beams, swinging on ladders, a cartwheel here, a somersault there. For the last ten minutes they put on a show, dressing in costumes, following their teacher's choreographed moves. They've danced to Who let the dogs out, wearing puppy dog caps, worn stars and stripes to perform the Keystone Cops, but my favorite is when they get all tricked out and dance to Hannah Montana and High School Musical. That's when I get to see my little boy, dressed in drag, sportin' sequined vests and satin pink hot pants with trim. And Darling, he looks Fabulous!
This is when I beam with pride and the other mothers applaud his bravery saying their sons only ever lasted ten minutes, always left flushed with embarrassment, refusing to return. But my Tiz is a real performer, the dress is just part of the act, and he struts about among those girls, admiring himself in the mirror, looking, not dressed like them, but rather they dressed like him.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Officially, Memorial Day, is a day to honor the men and women who have died in military service, but it’s most frequently observed by Americans as the first day of summer, celebrated by friends and family with picnics and parties.
It seems that war is difficult for many Americans to fully grasp, even during times of war. Unless they became Americans after escaping the atrocities experienced in their own war torn countries, or are members / family of the military who are currently serving or have served our country in the past, it’s too foreign for most of us to comprehend, and for better or worse, most of us have the privilege to ignore it.
As warranted by it’s name, Memorial day is also a day we remember friends and family who have passed before us.
Today I will be honoring three very important women in my life who have served and fought for my family. My husbands mother, who succumbed to breast cancer after fighting for two hard years, when her children were five and thirteen; My husband’s step-mother, who, after raising my husband and his sister, as well as her two biological children, had only two months before she died, to know that she was battling liver cancer; And my own mother, who when I was seven months pregnant for T, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer that had matastecized to her liver.
So much progress has been made since my mother-in-law’s got their diagnosis, and I am happy to say that my mother is still with us today. She will be celebrating with family and a picnic, gingerly, as she is healing remarkably, from having the left lobe of her liver removed less than two weeks ago.
When she was first diagnosed four years ago, her oncologist, a hilarious, strapping young man of 40, who was known for his infectious smile and silliness, respectfully told us her diagnosis, and encouragingly informed us that, while there was no known cure, he had patients who had made it five years with the same diagnosis, and he hoped that with the rapid progress being made in cancer research, he would shake her hand in ten, and say, keep up the good fight.
Right now, I would like to take a moment to honor Dr. Richard Shapiro and his family, because he passed away two years later after suffering a major heart attack at the age of 42. He is deeply missed by all of his patients who he helped in their own battles of cancer. He worked everyday with a life threatening illness, but never forgot to keep his sense of humor, showing up to work, more than once in a Tigger suit, the cartoon character who most resembled his bouncy bubbly self. We are grateful to him, and miss him.
Two months after her diagnosis, I went into labor for T, who was breech and a month premature. Because my water had broken, they went ahead and performed the c-section, and it turns out he was just ready, happy and healthy, at 7 pounds 2 ounces. Not fully believing that she would live to see him turn one, my mother bravely asked the anesthesiologist if she would bend the one-person attendant rule, and let her witness the birth at my husband’s side. After hearing her story, the anesthesiologist tearfully said that she would make an exception. The attending nurse later told me that in their 20+ years working together, she’d only seen her make that exception once before.
My mother has been amazing. She has kept a positive, survivalist attitude the entire time. Because she was told there was no cure, she actively sought out complimentary medicines. In addition to taking hormone blockers, chemo treatments once the blockers were no longer working, and, most currently, liver induction surgery, she has kept her body incredibly strong with nutrition, herbal supplements, eastern remedies and treatments, and lots of meditation and exercise. She keeps her emotional strength by attending cancer support groups, and nurturing old and new friendships with a tenacity that few can match. I mean this sincerely when I say that she has thousands of friends. She runs an online business and works with farmers throughout the world. When they learned of her diagnosis, she began receiving prayers from people all over the globe. She tries to respond to each of them personally. So she also finds solace in prayer.
One of her friends, who found her via the phenomena of the internet, is a peaceful young Somali man, who is surviving daily in his own war-torn country. He has lost all of his family to the war, and his regular correspondence with my mother keeps him strong as he works to find the road to safety. We hope to meet him in person some day, and pray for his safety on this day of remembrance.
She has put herself into remission twice. She doesn’t try to identify which of her treatments are working, she just trusts that since she keeps staying strong, they must be working in tandem. Her doctors from all sides, agree that she is maintaining remarkable strength. We have discovered new tumor growth three times, twice when I was pregnant. I have teased her that I better not have any more children because when I grow something she grows something. However, this most recent time, I was not pregnant. As she’d exhausted the other alternatives, the doctors decided to perform surgery. Her friends in her cancer support group have been cheering her on, encouraged that the cancer hasn’t spread further and excited that surgery is a possibility. For many of them, the cancer is far too progressed for surgery to be an option.
I thought about writing this on Mother’s Day, but we were rushing around getting her packed for the hospital, and I was repressing my own fears and anxieties, anticipating the possibility that the surgery might not work. But it did work, and she’s mending marvelously. So, today we will celebrate, by carefully walking her up the hill to watch her grandsons fly their first kite, and sharing her favorite foods on our picnic. And we will remember the other mothers in our life who, without, we would not have the family to share this picnic.
We will enjoy ourselves and celebrate, but we will also recognize that war is a human condition. One we have experienced throughout the history of mankind. As Americans, we have the luxury to argue and debate our stance on war. Regardless of our position, we live in a world where war is prevalent, and our world is getting smaller.
Please join us on this Memorial holiday in taking a moment to appreciate the people you hold dear in your life, to honor those who work to make the world a better place, and to pray for those in the world who live under perilous conditions, that they too may see a better day.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
I’m chanting a mantra as we make our way through the supermarket that goes something like this... Sit down...sit down... sit down, sit down, sit down...right now...sit down... sit down...SIT DOWN! I'm feeling far from enlightened.
Tiz and I are back in the car and I'm yammering on about safety even though he's unlikely to recall any of it during our next shopping trip and think, "Hmmm...maybe sitting down this time would be to my advantage..." But, it’s my obligation as his mother, so grouse I must.
“Do you understand why I kept asking you to sit down back there?” ... “Back there, in the store?” ... “In the cart?” The one sided nature of this conversation prompts me to keep going. “Standing up in the cart is very dangerous. You could end up in the hospital!” I point to the hospital we just happen to be passing.
“There are some hurts you can heal from,” I continue “but other’s you can’t. You don’t want to split your head open by landing on the hard cement floor. You could end up with a hurt that can’t be fixed!”
“Like Humpty Dumpty.” He replies “They couldn’t put him back together again. But he was on a wall!”