On the Move, a Family Visit & Cancer

After a long and somewhat grueling drive across two thirds of the country, I made it to Ohio two weeks past. I found the drive grueling because I could not meander. I love to meander the backroads. I was on a mission to reach family in northern Ohio. So I pushed on.

It has been a good visit. I spent a week with my niece, Brittany, her husband, Trip and their toddler, Ward. I arrived to help this young family, while Ward is undergoing chemotherapy for childhood cancer. Well that sucks. Elsie and I got settled in to the spare bedroom and I met my grand nephew for the first time. And what a cutie he is.

Thomas the Train

I forgot how exhausting a one and half year old can be. I got up early and by the time I went to bed at night I was exhausted. As adults our main job is to entertain a young somewhat housebound toddler. It is hard to be out and about when one is immuno-compromised. I read books, put together puzzles, played numerous kinds of games and watched Thomas the Train many, many times. One knows when they have watched Thomas the Train one too many times. You know the characters by name, you know the plot and try not to roll your eyes when a little one asks to see the same movie three times in one day. 🙄

Brittany and I have had time to share our cancer stories and the stress that accompanies this diagnosis. There are a few clubs I wish I had never joined. The cancer club is definitely one of them. Cancer is a very personal diagnosis. The physical diagnosis is only a small part of the broad picture that cancer plays in someone’s life. Each diagnosis of cancer carries it’s own story. Each story is different. I believe that only those who have been slammed with this diagnosis can understand each other’s story on a different level than those who have not had that experience. We shared stories. Brittany asked questions about my diagnosis (breast cancer) and Jim’s. For those of you who are new to this page, Jim, my husband, died from metastasis of a salivary gland cancer over five years ago. All I can do is be honest with her. All I can do is support her and her husband’s process. And amid the stress, we can have fun and laugh and go out for a beer. The stress is not always visible but remains a presence even if lingering in the recesses of our daily lives.

Ward Rocking His Last Weekly Chemo

The good news is that Ward has completed ten weeks of weekly chemotherapy. He now moves on to chemo once every three weeks and will finish up in late May or early June. The story doesn’t stop there. He will continue to have CT scans at intervals for an undetermined time. Although cancer will recess into the further quiet reaches of the mind the stress revives with each doctor appointment or scan. All we can do is be there for each other.

Elsie and I moved into a lovely old hotel near my family. Grandma from Florida arrived today. She moved into the Porch house and we moved nearby. As it has sleeted and rained outside, we have been having a quiet day inside.  It is time to catch up and rest and plan.

I will be here for another week connecting with my sister, Ruth and continuing to support Brittany, Trip and Ward. Then I will begin to meander. I expect to be in northern New Jersey in early April to visit my other sister and plan time to visit friends as I travel in that direction. I did not expect to be in this part of the country, yet here I am. I want to make the best of it and it gives me the opportunity to visit and see places that I usually would not direct myself towards. Why???? Because I love the west and I miss it when I am gone. While the weather is cold and wet here in Ohio, I miss it even more. I will be heading west again sometime this spring. Those wide open spaces continue to call my name. How did a girl from Delaware end up calling the west home? Well this photo below may demonstrate a reason why.

Until I head west again, I will enjoy my time here in the east with family and friends. Life is just one big adventure.

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Getting Ready to Move

I am in packing mode. Yes indeed, Miss Elsie and I are moving back into the RV on Wednesday. I am nesting. I am packing and sorting and rearranging. It is amazing how spread out one can become when they move into a place with space. Where did all this stuff come from and how did I get it all in my rig?

Pacific Beach

It will  be hard to leave the beach. I have really liked it here. Every day I walk to the bay, it is only two blocks away. About three times a week I walk the few miles to the ocean. It has been a tough existence (sic). The traveling gene is calling and I am heading out.

I have accomplished a lot in my three months here.

  • The dental work is done. Yay!!!! I have two new teeth and one is bionic 😏. Just kidding. I may be financially a little poorer, yet I have two shiny new teeth that I can show off.
  • Taxes are in process. They don’t need me to be present to finish them up.
  • All annual medical appointments are done. It is good to leave knowing I have a clean bill of health.
  • After many visits, chiropractic, massage, myofascial release, and acupuncture my back is feeling soooo….much better. I am seriously going to attempt to stay upright. No more falls are allowed, off my bike, off burros, or slipping on the sidewalk. Ay Yi Yi.
  • My Roadtrek has been checked out and inspected and fixed and is ready to roll.
  • My scooter has been tuned up and is back in my storage unit, ready for my next visit.
  • Thanks to the help of my therapist and the psychiatrist who orders my meds, I am emotionally feeling a bit more alive and ready to face the world. Thank gosh the sunlit days are getting longer, it helps my attitude so much.
  • I have had the opportunity to visit with friends. I have even made a few new ones. Sweet.
  • I finally found that document that was hiding in the dregs of my storage locker. Whew.

Shortly after Jim died, I started a scholarship in his name at Grossmont Community College. The accomplishment I feel strongest and happiest about, has to do with the scholarship. I donated the remaining amount of money needed to make this a perpetual scholarship. This scholarship will now continue indefinitely. Donations will still be greatly appreciated and the Go Fund Me site will remain on this blog page. It has taken the pressure off of me to raise the money needed. It feels very good to know that I have accomplished this very important goal. I have not done this alone. I have done this with the support of so many of you who gave either directly to the college or the Go Fund Me site. It was a team effort all the way. And I thank you.

I know there is more I could list here, these are the ones that come to mind at the present. Now my mental direction is shifting and getting ready to travel.

Ward

Where am I going? I am going to be driving across the southern part of the USA, and plan to be in Ohio by the 7th of March. I am going to help support my niece, Brittany and her husband, Trip with their son, one and half  year old, Ward. I posted about him back in December. Ward was diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumor in December. Since then he has had his right kidney and the tumor removed. He is now going through 21 weeks of chemotherapy. My sister, Ruth has been staying with them but she needs to head home for a short trip. I am going to be her replacement while she goes home. It is good that this young family has as much support as they can get.

I am going to enjoy meeting Ward. I have yet to meet him in a person. My personal hope for this time is that I might be able to relieve Brittany’s and Trip’s stress just a wee bit. This is what family and friends do for each other. We all help the best way we can. For me it has given me a direction when I get on-the-road.

I am off to pack some more. Stay tuned. The adventure continues.

 

Preparing For the End of Winter

I would like to express my gratitude to all the responses I received from my last post “Struggling Through Winter”. All of your comments were so supportive and helpful. I have read through them more than once. It has eased the feeling of aloneness I felt this winter. It has reminded me, once again, that those of us who struggle with depression and sadness are not alone. I am forever grateful to all of you.

As the daylight hours lengthen I have found I have more energy and interest in the world around me. And, I am beginning to prepare…prepare to move back into my rig and begin the life of a nomad, once again.

I wasn’t sure what direction I was heading when I left the bay and ocean, in San Diego. I kept waiting it out, in hopes that a small “aha moment” would appear and I would have it figured out. I now know my first destination. I am going to driving across the southern United States and then cutting north to Ohio by the second week in March. I leave my rental on February 28th. I will spend a few days at a campground, just to adjust and then I am on my way.

For those who have been following my blog, you may be aware that my one and half year old great nephew, Ward, was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor right before Christmas. After successfully removing the tumor and kidney, he recovered and is now in the process of receiving chemotherapy for several months. His family is adjust to this unexpected time in their lives. This is not an easy adjustment and they certainly can use all the support they can get.

My sister, Grandma to Ward, has been in Ohio  since the tumor was discovered. She is in need of returning home. I am going to be helping my niece and her husband out for a while. I will now have time to meet and get to know my great nephew. I am looking forward to meeting this little one and loving my niece and her husband.

This is what family does for each other. We may not always agree, or get along but when any of us struggle, my family is there to support and love each other. It is my honor to actively support and love this lovely young family.

As February begins to wind down, I am getting busy with my Roadtrek. I am getting it cleaned up and completing  all my little and medium size projects in the rig. I am cleaning, making lists and starting to figure out what I want to take with me and what will return to my storage locker.

Miss Elsie the Cat is making her own checklist. She wants to make sure she has all her creature comforts with her. 

I am looking forward to being on the move. I am looking forward to spending time with my niece and her family. I am looking forward to exploring places I have not been before. I am looking forward to meeting people along the way and visiting with friends. I am looking forward to figuring out my spring and summer. I am looking forward. Looking forward means that depression is lessening and I am entering back into life. Oh I am so glad for this. It has been a long few months.

Next winter I might go to New Zealand so I can experience summer all year around. 🌞

Stay tuned—-Life is picking up.

 

 

 

Why Us?-Why Not Us?

Last week my great nephew, Ward, was diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor. He is one and a half years old and the picture of health, except that this malignant mass is growing in and around his right kidney. Instead of celebrating Christmas at home he will be recovering from surgery. The whole right kidney will be removed. He will be given time to recover and then proceed to the chemotherapy part of this treatment plan.

As part of the extended family I am devastated by this news. This little sweet lion will face challenges that most of us never have to face, especially at this young age. This young and thriving family will face many challenges that they never expected to have to face. This is their baby and their love.

When I first spoke with my niece, we had a long and struggling talk. Why us?, was the question that she and her husband asked when presented with the diagnosis. The next question they asked was, Why not us? It is a question to ask, even in the most difficult of times. When things are going wonderfully in our lives we don’t ask the “why us” question. When the proverbial “*#*” hits the fan, often this question is the one that gets asked. Why Us?

Why not us? This is life and none of us are immune to the bad stuff that comes down. What we do with this question can reflect who we are. For my niece and her husband, they have answered the question and they are coming up fighting. More than anything else, they understand that they need to be the strong advocates for their baby. He is too young to take this on himself and this is what parents do. They also know that it is time to call in favors. Forget the stoicism.

Mom and Dad are already setting boundaries. They have asked that no one give them their worse cancer story. Why we humans do this, I am not sure. I heard many when I was going through treatment for breast cancer. Below I have posted a link to the Caring Bridge website that has been set up for Ward. If you contact them there, give them all the positive stuff you can.

The extended family is asking this same question. Why Us? Well, Why Not Us? How we confront adversity, shows our mettle. This large extended family is rounding up the wagons. My sister (Ward’s grandmother) has already made the two day drive to be with them through surgery and beyond. The rest of us, no matter the distance, are supporting, loving and doing what we can to let this family know they are loved and supported and will never be in need.

They have a large, strong community behind them. Trip is a pastor and Brittany is a Youth Minister. Wow, two whole churches of people who will love them and support them. If only the rest of us could have that many behind us. They are loved by their church communities. If you ever met them, you would understand why. They are two delightful and engaged pastors, loving friends, who share a great joy in life, even when the worse happens. And during doubt and uncertainty this background will hold them together and make them stronger, as individuals, as a couple and as parents.

If you want to follow this child in the months ahead, the parents have set up a Caring Bridge site for Ward. The following link will take you to the web site. Ward Porch-Caring Bridge  You do need to sign up to receive updates. The site will not sell your email address. This site is set up, so that one can communicate with the well wishers and supporters without having to tell the story again and again.

I have also added a Caring Bridge Link to the left side of this blog. It is easy to click on that link, whenever you are visiting this page.

Please send prayers to this family. Love them and hold them close, whatever that means to you. All those good thoughts will give more love to them as they walk through this hard time.

We’re Just Walking Each Other Home.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer on the Lake

lake house 1958

The original summer bungalow.

Wow, where does the time go. I have been in northern NJ for two weeks. Oh my gosh I can’t believe I have stayed in one place so long. My niece gets married this weekend and then I will be on the move again. It has been fun to be at my sister’s and her husband’s house on the lake. It has been many years since I spent the Fourth of July here.

My sisters and I grew up on this lake. Originally it was owned by my grandmother Arnold and then my father. Each Memorial Day weekend we opened the house for the summer. My mother and the three of us would come here from Delaware for the summer. My dad would come on weekends. It is a very different house now than what it was then. It is hard to believe that this house has seen three generations in it.

When we were young it was a summer bungalow. It had a wood stove for heat, no insulation to speak of, running water and electricity.  There was also an outhouse in the garage and bath houses to change in. We spent a greater part of the day in water. It was a wonderful way to grow up.

the other side of my sister's home

Same house in current time

Today this house is lovingly owned by my sister, Ginny and her husband, Frank. It is a permanent year round home. Although it is their home we are always invited to come and enjoy the lake. Each of us girls has brought all those that are important to us here. I have come in the winter and in the summer. I love coming here and sitting on the grand front porch and look over the lake.

This year my niece, Adrienne and her fiancé, Jed had a Fourth of July party here. There were a few people from Germany and they wanted to show them what a typical and classic 4th was like. We grilled burgers and hotdogs. Everyone had to try out the new paddle board. We ended the day seeing the best fireworks I have witnessed. They were grand.

What made the party special for me is that a long time friend of mine from Philadelphia was able to come up and join the festivities. I treasure my friends. I treasure the time I get to spend with them, no matter how limited it might be. It was so much fun to catch up with Chris. We never run out of subjects to talk about. I like her company because we talk about what is important to each of us and it is respected. I am thankful for my friends.

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Today my sister, Ruth and her husband, Joe and my other niece, Brittany and her husband, Trip arrived. Tomorrow it is time for another picnic and even more people will be showing up. I am camped in my Roadtrek in the side yard. Elsie is with me. We are a team. Because of this sweet little home everyone has a bed to sleep in tonight. I like the fact that when I need a time out I can disappear to the side yard and hang out in my RT.

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She is in the back forty

I feel very thankful this week for family. We may not always see eye to eye but I think we always have each other’s back. Even if we disagree, we are always talking again, because we are family. When Jim died my sister, Ginny was on a plane to come to me when I needed someone most. That is what family and friends do for each other and I am so thankful that I had someone to rely on.

Shortly after the wedding I will be on the road again. I am planning on heading back into Canada. I want to see Nova Scotia and then I will be heading west and slowly towards home. More to come.

Today I am thankful for family, good friends, my kitty and my RT.

(127) Dad and the Girls  July 1955

Dad and the three sisters

Janet, Brittany, Ruth, Trip, Ginny

Janet, Brittany, Ruth, Trip, Ginny