Monthly Archives: November 2016

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Gratitude

Image

20160712_184240

It was my birthday yesterday. To say that I am grateful to be celebrating yet another one is an understatement considering ten years ago I was fighting a life threatening disease. And yet each day is a blessing. Nothing is ever guaranteed, no one can count on seeing another morning. This past week has been a difficult one for my country, my friends and my family. There is so much uncertainty and fear. The unknown always holds fear, there is no doubt. Yet I take this blessing of another day to be grateful for the things I do have and to count those as well.

Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving. I have felt saddened these past years that the significance of this celebration has become muddled with the great opportunity for businesses to sell lots and lots of products in one fell swoop in preparation of Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving holds the ominous title of Black Friday. Black Friday encroaches more and more into Thanksgiving each year to the point where stores open for business the evening of Thanksgiving Day. This has made me very sad. This day has been set aside for us to reflect and be thankful for all that we have in this very prosperous country. Instead many are focused on the what they can buy for the cheapest prices.

And yet that in itself  is what many consider a blessing. And who I am to negate another person’s gratitude? But for me to really feel that this country has not taken, to paraphrase the infamous words of Bugs Bunny, a wrong turn at Albuquerque, I feel I must dig deep to remind myself of all that I am thankful for. Gratitude comes in stages. It comes in baby steps and in great leaps. In the silence and in the noise too. It is an attitude. One just never knows when it will appear and you have to feel grateful that it did at all.

I am grateful for life and grateful for time. For touch, feel and sight. For love and friendship even those lost ones. Life is a roller coaster. Childhood than high school then college then life, not necessarily in that order. Sometimes I was trying to navigate without a compass. Some things went so right and some so wrong. So grateful I got through safely to the age I am now with only a few scars. Oh baby it is a wild world indeed.

I am grateful for the joy and pain of parenting. Of bringing children into the world whom I could love and nurture and hover over and let go of and worry about and laugh with. Grateful for a husband and friend and partner for 34 years. Through hard times and good times and some bad times too. A lifetime and yet only a moment together. Fumbling through life holding onto each other. Grateful for his strength and love. I am grateful for the company of a cat for 15 years. His grace and beauty, his defiance. His heavy body draped across my lap for many moments of rest.

I am grateful for elders who have lived into their 90’s so that I could still feel like a beloved child when I was with them. Grateful for my tribe, for my brothers and sisters and cousins and friends. We are all in this together. For my children with their never ending lessons. For every sunrise and every sunset.  For the chance to bake some cookies. And the tools to do so.

So grateful this horrible election is over even though it left a hole in my heart where my faith in humanity had been. Grateful for the time and the chance to heal that hole and find hope again. Grateful for the right to vote. For the time to heal wounds.

There are endless things I am grateful for, many which I will keep pressed between the pages of my secret heart. Despite all, I am grateful to enjoy the full advantages of the modern world to the point where I can stay tucked up warm in my bed the day after Thanksgiving while others choose to go out in the dark to get the weekend deals in their favorite stores. We all have a choice here while many around the world cannot choose what their day may hold. And so I send that out into the world and state that we all have a responsibility to uphold our brothers and sisters here at home and around the world and pray they are granted a good life too. I am grateful for all of my blessings even those in disguise. And I light another candle for myself today.

20161016_104804

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Ribbons

Standard

 

ribbons-2-1609691

I have a confession to make. I am a breast cancer survivor and I have never been a fan of the pink ribbon. Just admitting that sounds strange and I can almost hear the gasps coming from fellow survivors and pink ribbon proponents. The pink ribbon has a strong message and it carries a lot of power. I am not trying to diminish any of that. I am just stating it does not reflect my journey.

October was Breast Cancer Awareness month and we were awash in pink. Far beyond the humble pink ribbon, consumers can buy pink watches, pink scarves, pink t-shirts and hats. Professional sport teams wore pink shoes, gloves and strips of pink mixed with their team colors. Pink boas were wrapped jauntily around the necks of those who walked for three days in the name of beating this disease. I am for all of that. I am grateful for the awareness of this deadly killer but cancer of any form is a scourge to humanity. It doesn’t discriminate. It attacks any gender, any age, any socioeconomic group. It can happen to one of any race, of any religion. No one is immune.

I am not sure why I feel the way I do about the pink ribbon. Maybe because once I had breast cancer, it was assumed that I would embrace this badge of courage. I recall the information kit I was given at my doctor’s office shortly after my diagnosis. It was encased in a lovely pink bag. As I battled through treatment I was given gifts of the pink ribbon, bracelets and pins, necklaces, earrings, embossed scarves, coffee mugs and socks, a pink nail polish made especially to honor October. Everywhere was that little twist of pink. So much love and support, so much strength. Except I did not connect with it. I didn’t see myself as wanting to display the battle I went through. Maybe I fervently wanted life to go back to the way it was and that little ribbon was a constant reminder that it never would be.

I do not begrudge anyone who embraces the pink ribbon. It represents something for them I could never imagine. Cancer and the battle to fight it is a very personal journey, any illness is, despite the fact that everyone around you is affected also. A person is faced with so many what ifs and not any guarantees. You are trying to hang onto to some semblance of control even as your body spirals out of your control. Instead you become the property of doctors, nurses, a vast myriad of tests, of the powerful, sickening drugs. A life disrupted. When treatment is done, it’s not really done. There’s a level of mistrust that the cancer is truly gone. There are years of physical, mental and spiritual recovery. There will always be fear of recurrence.

In so many ways the pink ribbon is a symbol of hope, perseverance and defiance. Women, and men too, wear it proudly, wear it in solidarity, in support and for love. But it’s not any of that for me. When October rolls around and everything under the sun is available in pink, I just don’t feel it. I often get strange looks when I express this. I feel as though they wonder how I could possibly reject the pink ribbon that is the blazing symbol of that reluctant sisterhood. I am not sure how to explain it to them except to say that my defiance is a different color.

The pink ribbon represents the continued fight against breast cancer, a fight we seem to be slowly winning. No one is more for that than I am. But I will do it incognito. I do not need to wear any pink to symbolize the fight. The fight was inside me and it was not pink. It was black with rage and grey with fatigue. It was white with hope and green with envy and blue with fragile days of peace. Not a shred of pink in sight.

It’s important for people to have a symbol to rally around. Sometimes in their own sadness and despair it’s the one thing they can cling too. I am happy for those who find comfort in the joy the pink ribbon brings. But I will find my comfort from another source. And keep the prayers for a cure moving forward.

DSCN0461