Some of you dear readers are now at risk of being offended. You will recognize yourself in this post. But remember “teasing can be a sign of affection.” I heard this somewhere years ago and found it comforting as I am married to someone who teases his wife as a life calling. There have been times he has regretted that calling.
Since my cancer diagnosis I have received encouragement from all of you. How do I know it is ALL of you? Simple…you are reading my blog at this moment and you have gotten this far without clicking away.
There are some however, who are incapable of reading my blog but have greatly encouraged me. I am a grandmother. (“Uh-Oh”, you are thinking.)
If you tire of “granny gush” skip this part. I am afraid if you don’t then I will be accused of the following:
Ok, where was I? Oh yes, grandchildren: there is 4 year old Marlon who when he first time he saw me after the mastectomy asked straight away, “Are Your lymph nodes recovered yet, Nonna?” rather prophetic if you ask me as it had not been yet explained to me that the real discomfort was not going to be the mastectomy, per se, but the lymph node removal surgical part. How did he know that? Gifted? Of course!
And then there is 10 month old Desmond who said to me just yesterday, and I quote, “Nonna, I love you so much and I am hoping that you will not only have a full recovery from this battle with cancer but that you will come out of it a stronger and better person!” 10 months old! Amazing, right? No, just gifted.
Ok, I’m done with grandma references.
Now for some of the quirkiest encouragements I have gotten so far:
Let’s start with Nick, David’s Sicilian barber for the last several years. I don’t know what was funnier, David setting up the scene with the accent in tow or the actual “sort of” encouraging advice. Apparently Nick was so moved by what he was hearing about me (his wife had cancer several years ago, as well) that he put the clippers down so he could put his hands on David’s shoulders. Looking at David through the mirror he said passionately (try to imagine a Don Corleone accent).
“You-uh tell-uh Dona like I-uh told-uh my wife. You-uh stay-uh alive, You-uh stay-uh healthy, You-uh stay-uh upbeat! Not-uh just-uh for yourself, not-uh just-uh for the people who-uh love-uh you, but for the people who-uh hate-uh you. When they-uh see you walking-uh down the side-uh-walk-uh, they-uh say, ‘That-uh woman still around’?!! And when they-uh see you lookin-uh good it will give-uh them-uh a clinch-uh in the gut.”
David, having grown up in the South where niceties are spoken of everyone, sincere or not, was speechless. Being 100 percent Italian and 50 percent of that being Sicilian I have the right to poke fun and reassure David that as strange as that advice was, it was meant to encourage him and me. This encouragement was validated as very good advice by one of my mother’s Italian friends.
I have received numerous cards, gifts, flowers, emails, texts, books and phone calls to reassure and encourage. I even had a friend that I had not seen in 10 years from North Carolina that flew in and stayed with me a few days this week (David had to go back to Alaska for a week of work). Nothing but loveliness and sweetness with all the above encouragements. But….
There have been some quirky gifts. After confronting my friends with “what in the world were you thinking?” They were appalled at the suggestion that they were poking fun at my future chemo haute coiffure but rather remembered how much I loved this particular barbecue sauce at one of the restaurants they recommended in one of their favorite cities in Oregon. Uh…Huh… Sure.
Another couple sent me some viewing material that I am sure they found in the Wall Mart 1-dollar bin or else quickly became a re-gifted item. What were they thinking?
Then there is the couple that had food therapy suggestions for David to do for me, starting with David learning to prepare cheese cauliflower and hosing me down with an olive oil mist hooked up to the shower nozzle. Again what were they thinking?!?
What is my point? Encouragements are appreciated in whatever manner they come because they reflect the uniqueness of friends and family empathizing within the universal experience of suffering. Somehow it makes the suffering less and the gratefulness more. God’s love shines ever more brightly because of all of you.