Thursday, July 5, 2007

Survivors

WhyMommy has posted a writing assignment over at Toddler Planet to give away her much-deserved BlogHer pass. While I cannot go to BlogHer, I knew that I wanted to participate. And then I saw the topic and sort of freaked out: Write a post this week about a person who inspires you, a person who has survived cancer, or motherhood, or her own personal challenge.

See, while we keep on keepin' on, my family (and Alex's family) is not necessarily known for their survivorship. We have unending stories of disease and chronic conditions and accidents and dead plants. So I've spent the past few days trying to come up with something (in the meantime blogging about things like 50-cent dashboard chickens). But then I really looked at the topic and I thought about the fact that I really do know some people who are survivors and who inspire me.

There is the director of my kids' preschool who beat breast cancer. She was in the group I walked with at the Race For the Cure. She went through the whole deal, but in the end she says, "I just did what my doctors told me, and I got better." AND at the Walk she got a free pink tote bag full of swag for being a survivor. (Something to look forward to, WhyMommy. You have to have cancer to get it, but at the end, you're going to have a kick-ass little pink tote bag.) She is a survivor. And she inspires me.

There is my mom, who raised two kids with very little money, but rarely let us know that. While my mom was making dinner for four for $2, I grew up with everything I needed, and what's more, everything I thought I needed. I may not have had the fanciest of clothes or caviar for dinner, but I never didn't have what was important. While Alex and I are doing okay, I see how easy it is to get close to that edge and how scary it must be to try to keep your kids away from it. She survived (as did my sister and I). And she inspires me.

There is my aunt, whose husband did not beat cancer. But she survives and inspires. And the uncle in question? He inspires. To this day I think about him and how wonderful he was. And he survives in my heart and in every heart that knew him. These two are my inspiration for how a marriage should be. I don't think I was ever at their house when he would walk in the door and not kiss her. And they were married for 43 years. (Excuse me if I'm a year or two off; after 40, I don't know if it matters.) My aunt and her family are people I think of often. And they inspire me.

There is my old college chum (you know who you are) who practices what she preaches. Although I desire a clean environment, a healthy planet, and a peaceable world, I drive my car, use more plastic than I should, and don't bother to make it to political protests. This chum, although she has a truck, rides her bicycle almost every place she goes (hundreds of miles sometimes). She refuses water that comes out of a bottle, to the point of being thirsty. (She re-used one of my old soda bottles as a water bottle for months on end, probably far longer than it should have been used, bacteria-wise.) And she makes her feelings known politically as well. Out of all the people I know, she is the one who cares least about what people think about her. She does what she wants and what she thinks is right. And while I sometimes feel a wee bit like a bad person when she comes to visit, she never tries to make me feel that way, even though I'm sure some of the things I do make her skin crawl. My old college chum is someone I think of often. And she inspires me.

There is my mother in law, who has had two hip replacement surgeries in the past two years. She does physical work and lives by herself (except for her cat, Garth) and she made it through. It's been tough on her, and she went through a lot of pain, but she survives. And she inspires me.

There are Alex and me. Both of our fathers were unexpectedly killed when we were under 10. And we both think of those fathers often. And we don't love them any less because they are not here with us. And we found each other and we survived.

There is my sister who overcame the stranglehold of deep depression that had its sticky claws on her for months. And she came out of it with the strength to walk away from more than five years of higher education aimed at archaeology to find her passion. A few short years later and she is doing rotations and studying for boards as she works toward her dream of being a pediatrician. She survives. And she inspires me.

Then there is WhyMommy. She already inspired me due to her intelligence and the way she very thoughtfully parented Widget and Little Bear when it felt like I was just making up rules on the spot. But she's become even more of an inspiration in the way she is bravely handling her cancer. I admit, I was really worried at first, and worst case scenarios did cross my mind. But in the last few days something in me clicked over and I wonder why I ever had doubts. This is a disease that people beat now. This is a disease that WhyMommy will beat now. Her next six months to a year may have moments of extreme suckitude, but next July 4th, she can have another barbecue for her playgroup and it can be her Suvivor picnic: WhyMommy's Independence From Cancer Day. She's a survivor. And she inspires me.

5 comments:

  1. Dude. You were so not supposed to do that with this post. I'd totally disqualify you if you were competing for anything.

    But thanks. For the stories. For the inspiration. And for the friendship. I am really lucky to know you and your boys out here.

    Your family inspires me. More now than even before. And you know I think you're Supermom.

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  2. But the assignment clearly said that I should write about "survivors" and "inspirations".

    Done.

    How dare you disqualify me?! :)

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  3. You are Supermom/Super Human Being, and you inspire me. XOXO Y.M.

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  4. Thank you, Jean, for those nice comments.

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  5. A brief note to the visitors of Stimeyland on how the old college chum in fact derives inspiration from Jean. I tell this story with the confidence that no one here knows who I am. Don't tell me if I'm wrong. Nearly 10 years ago now, when I was madly in love with a married man, and all of my other close women friends thought that was okay and quite modern, Jean told me she thought this was not a good thing to do. I was head over heals and as such had no idea which way was up. Jean is the most non-judgmental and accepting person I know (something I love and admire about Jean, and in my finest hours try to emulate) and so I figured that if she said that this was a bad thing to do she must be right. Shortly after that I stopped seeing him and in fact never laid eyes on him again. And so yes, I am very good with the plastic bottles, but when it comes to some other matters, I too draw inspiration from Stimey herself.

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