25 October 2011

Team Trish

The Oklahoma City Race for the Cure happened on a beautiful, sunny, windless day. There were lots of us in our Team Trish gear in Bricktown. Trish, just coming off her last chemo before her surgery, walked the entire 5K with her husband, two young sons, mother, siblings, friends and coworkers. It was moving.

She has done the deal. Kept her head down and took it like a girl, the chemo, the illness and kept working, kept being a mother. She told me cancer was just not going to become who she is, but an illness she has for a year. At the end of the walk, the survivors gathered on the ball field. She held back waiting for the line to clear. Her mother offered to walk over with her. She reached the end of the long line. It was a few seconds later that the ladies turned around to see her sweet peach fuzz and say "I was there a year ago," "five years ago," "ten," and "you can walk with us." Trish was enveloped by a sea of pink. She was one of them. It was too much for her mother. For all of us. So comforting. Such hope.

She has had her big surgery and of course texted pictures of herself in that hospital bed beaming that it was over.

I want to thank the wonderful friends who supported Trish with their words of comfort, cheering her on. I want to thank those who donated to my fundraising effort for the Cure which got me to $325! Thank you Marla, Alisa, Maija, Penny, Linda, Stefanie, Charlene and Julie. A thousand thank yous.

I didn't really hear from Jemellia all that weekend until she asked to bring this by. She made this quilt for Trish. I really don't have words for this. I delivered it to Trish in her hospital room. We didn't have words either. Trish read the center block, whispering "fight like a girl." We shed tears and ran our hands across this labor of a love, this symbol for what women can do...

What we do.

Thank you Jemellia. I am so moved by what we as women do for one another.

06 October 2011

I have healthy breast tissue. The women in my family have healthy breast tissue. Trish does not. Trish is my husband's other department member and they spend more time with each other than they spend with anyone else. He loves her and is loyal and protective of her.


he couldn't stop breast cancer. Trish is a young woman, wife and mother. She found a massive tumor a couple of months ago and has been through chemotherapy. Trish has a big surgery scheduled the Monday following the Race for the Cure event in Oklahoma City. Her family, company, and friends are rallying to support The Cure and we are Team Trish.

Trish shaved her head before the chemo could take it away. She promised her little boys to have some fun with it and sported this mohawk on her way to bare. She has never looked more beautiful. GI Jane.

She is fighting like a girl.

I will be part of Team Trish in Race for the Cure on October 16th. Please throw a little money into my bucket for the cause if you feel moved to do so. I have a little surprise handmade by me for my donors.

Now please don't think I am a good person for doing this. I have to do a little good to offset the the rest of my life.

Just wanted to be clear...

03 October 2011

Dear Daddy...

October 3rd is my dad's Deathday. October is full of anniversaries, his death, my dead brother's birthday, my own. I was thinking how I could easily get drawn down into at least melancholy, at worst depression. Its been 13 years but I've feeling so close to dad as I finish up mother's things following her death in April. I have been so quiet. Living slowly and with purpose. There has been loneliness too.

Its pretty easy to live a life of gratitude when there are good days. It is easy to be grateful for beauty but what about pain? Ugliness?  Death? It is far more challenging to, say, look at the beaten, bloody body on the cross and feel grateful. Its easier to feel shame. Recently, God told me pretty clearly 'gratitude transforms pain into joy.'

Looking directly at today I am thinking about my father's influence in my life and wanted to say a few things about daddy and feel grateful...

He adored me. I was his beloved. I knew it, everyone knew it and I loved it. Everyone should be adored by someone and he was mine. The last day I saw him, 2 days before he died, he patted me sweetly on the shoulder, cooed to me and called me "sisto." God how grateful I am for that.

He was a feminist. He taught me I could do anything. He worked for the city of Oklahoma City in the 1960s as department head over Personnel Services under Mayor Patience Latting. He loved Patience Latting. She was the first female American mayor of a city greater than 250,000. Dad spoke so highly of her, always calling her by her full name. I grew up with Patience Latting as an icon in our home. I am deeply grateful for that. Turns out she was at the same facility mother lived. I was too intimidated to introduce myself to her.

I grew up going to flea markets with dad. The old school grungy, dusty kind. He had a booth of mostly military related items. I spent Saturdays roaming trash and treasures while he maned his stall. One day I saw this book in his booth, I was about 14, I guess, The Influence of Women and Its Cure from 1936 by John Erskine. Its filled with suggestions about how to keep women and their ideas from spreading around. Dad said he figured a feminist would come by and get all over that book. I told him "one just did," snatching it up.

I am so grateful my father was a feminist. Some of you may have to look that word up. Let me tell you, it changed everything.

He told me I had a good brain. There were no limits on my brain. He told me to look around in class and know I would make the A if anybody could. I do believe in my ability to think and learn. I had such crappy self esteem otherwise but my belief in my brain was the great grappling hook that kept me alive and kept me going.

I am so grateful he gave in confidence in my intelligence. That is a profound thing as the younger sibling of a brother with such severe disabily from retardation.

I am a Sooner. I was raised on Sooner football. There was Jesus and Barry Switzer and some days not in that order. I am a second generation Sooner, we have 5 OU degrees between the two of us.

Thank you for OU, dad. I still love college. And the Sooners...

Daddy gave me my first Nikon when I turned 16. It was a very expensive Nikon F2 SB he bought second hand from a local family owned camera shop. I remember my photography teacher being miffed about this great camera in my hands. I don't know how dad knew but he made sure I had the tool that became a life long passion. The Nikon I use now came from the same shop, the same Epperson's from which I bought my daughters first Nikon last Christmas.

I am so grateful dad helped me find photography early in life.

It may have been the dead birds I collected, but he knew I needed to study science. He started early on telling me to major in a hard (not soft) science and to complete my terminal degree before I got married. I did get my BS in Zoology and MS in Microbiology and another from the Physician Assistant program. Part of the failure of my first marriage is quitting my PhD program ABD (all but dissertation). Shoulda' listened.

Thank you dad for recognizing the biologist in me. I have such a passion for it.

Dad left work for the city and became a college professor which was his profession the majority of the time I grew up. When I became an adjunct professor of biology he sent me a card that said Bravo! and Congratulations! and he wrote inside "on the occasion of your first faculty position."

Thank you for paving the way to academia and teaching. It is one of the constants in my life.

Dad knew me so well. He pointed my in my own direction. Thank you daddy, I am so grateful for that. I miss you so much.
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