Sunday, September 26, 2010

Journal of a Living Lady #380

Nancy White Kelly

Don’t know why mortality has been on my mind lately. Maybe it is because of all the funerals I have attended lately. Just a couple of weeks ago, on the same newspaper obituary page, were the pictures of three long-time friends.

One day recently a casual friend called and asked if she could come by and visit. “Of course,” I said though I was a bit puzzled. Neither Buddy nor I were sick. She mentioned that we were the second of two visits she was making that afternoon. The other was to mutual friends who have battled life-threatening illness for a long, long time.

We had a nice visit. The sweet lady brought Buddy and me a funny book, nuts, and fruit. We chatted for over an hour. Still in the back of my mind I was wondering what was behind this Sunday afternoon drop-by.

Only as we hugged and said good-bye did I get my answer. This day was the anniversary of her husband’s death. She was doing something besides having a pity party. She was bringing encouragement, even laughter, to others. What an inspiration she was to me and something I plan to remember if Buddy should pass first.
Actually widowhood is a frightening subject to me. Buddy is twelve years older than I. Although my health history scuttles the statistics, chances are that I will out-live him. That scares me to death.

The longer I live the more I realize that our culture is primarily a society of couples. A once-married, single woman sticks out. I look around in church and see numerous friends who not so long ago had a man by their side. Now they look incomplete, even lonely. I admire their courage to keep going in spite of their loss, but don’t long for that courage myself. I don’t want to be unmarried to Buddy, ever. There is something about Buddy’s warm body and over-wrapped arm at night that gives me security. What peace to know that if I were lost in the woods, there is one person who would swim a river to find me.

What would I do without him? I don’t know how to start the well pump when lightning strikes. How do you light the furnace when the season changes?
Who would fill the gas tank when I don’t notice the warning light? Who would prod me to go light on the salt and sugar?

Marriages are made in heaven - but are thunder and lightning. There have been a few misunderstandings in our 46 years of marriage. As we grow older, there has been some amusing miscommunication.

Last week I was invited to a wedding shower for a soon- to- be bride.

As I was trading my lounging clothes for fancier duds, Buddy inquired as to where I was going. I replied, “To Hiawassee.”

He came to the bathroom door.

“Why, “he asked.

“For a shower,” I replied while powdering my nose. I frowned at him. He had seen the invitation on the table.

Buddy’s wrinkled forehead told me he didn’t hear me correctly. I repeated slowly, “I am going to Hiawassee for a shower.”

He still looked confused. Finally he asked, “Why not take a shower right here?”
“I am going to a wedding shower, honey, Remember?”

He moaned as the words registered. I laughed. He laughed. We both laughed again and we are still laughing.

Life would be bleak without my Buddy.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Journal of a Living Lady #379

Nancy White Kelly

This week didn’t start off too well. Due to my cryptic shorthand on the wall calendar, I was two hours late for the funeral of a friend who died with breast cancer. She fought a good fight. Linda was the epitome of bravery when on a death march. She is at peace now and perfectly healed.

This column, first called Journal of a Dying Lady, began when I too was facing the big C for the second time. When originally diagnosed, our son Charlie was 5. I asked…well, begged, the Lord to let me live to see him finish high school. I got my request. Weeks before he graduated, the cancer returned with a vengeance. The doctors gave me 18 months to live if I took chemotherapy and nine months without it. In spite of the cancer news, I was the happiest mama in Town’s county the night Charlie got his diploma.

It hasn’t been easy. ”Slash, cut, burn” is a negative euphemism for the difficult journey with aggressive cancer. On this second round, the cancer metastasized to my lungs and spine. I eventually was enrolled in hospice which was a wonderful help to Buddy and me. One morning, when the nurse decided on her own to take my car keys, I decided I didn’t want to be in hospice any longer. I checked out and never looked back.

God gave me another miraculous span of time, years actually, whereby my cancer has been stable. I have lived to see Charlie finish college, get married, and have two wonderful grandsons. Our last foster child, whom we later adopted, eventually grew up and became a responsible adult in spite of a turbulent adolescence.

Recently, while having my routine oncology check-up, I told my doctor that I didn’t have a good feeling about the up-coming scans. He moved the scheduled scan date up knowing that we cancer patients often have intuitive vibes.

Two hours ago I got the call. The results weren’t what we had hoped. For the first time in this long span of almost normal living, there appears now to be a new lesion in the lung. It may or may not be malignant, but the scenario is eerily similar to my last episode.

My oncologist has been amazed all along at my longevity. He says he doesn’t see miracles very often and beams proudly while pointing upward. We both recognize divine intervention.

So where to from here? Because of the size and location of the growth, it can’t be biopsied just yet. In a few weeks I will have another scan to see if that spot has enlarged enough to be sampled.

It is hard to predict the course ahead. My doctor previously said that we have used up all the chemo options. Maybe some new drug is in the pipe line for breast cancer. Perhaps this is a different type of cancer that will respond to other untried chemotherapies. The best scenario of all is that this is a false alarm.
There will be many questions to ask and hopefully miles to go before I join my friend, Linda. One thing is for sure. I won’t be late to my own funeral.