All three of you.
Well, it's been a very long start to the year. I've been a bit secretive about some stuff going on with the family just because I'm not big on making the more serious things public. I've decided to share because it will help explain my lack of bloggin' and honestly might be a bit cathartic for me, so here goes.
Last year my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in Feb. The months before and after were difficult and trying for my mom. She went through a battery of tests just to discover the cancer and then had chemo/radiation/surgery over the course of the next eight months or so. A year or so before that my mom had pneumonia, which resulted in a great deal of scarring in her right lung. Well, the cancer was in her left. So she had to have two-thirds of the left lung removed. As of November of last year we thought and believed that she was cancer free.
We (and the professionals who get paid to determine these things) were wrong. Mom's voice had become that of someone who bakes cookies in a hollowed out tree and she was having great difficulty breathing. She was due for a check up at the end of January but we all wanted her to get checked sooner. While all of this is going on my sister Lynda is diagnosed with breast cancer a couple weeks before Christmas.
Since then my sister has gone through her surgery and is dealing with the need for chemo/radiation since all 24 lymph-nodes that the doc removed were also cancerous. After having several tests done she's learned that she has arthritis and cysts but no more cancer. So goodish news there. She's doing very well with all of this and has a great attitude most of the time ;) Mom on the other hand discovered a tumor and the docs are sure the cancer has spread to her esophagus (the reason for the voice change). She started another round of chemo 3 weeks ago and had another treatment yesterday. Certainly God can intervene and remove the cancer, but we are preparing for the worst. Mom is currently in need of oxygen at night and has difficulty walking since we believe the tumor may be pressing on nerves.
In the last six weeks I've driven down to Chicago five of them. I'm burnt out emotionally, spiritually and physically. It's been great having all of my siblings and their families come to town, but we all wish it were under better circumstances.
For those who may not know I'm a momma's boy. Big time. My dad died when I was only weeks old. My mom remarried two years later but my step-father didn't really do the whole "dad" thing very well. I know he loves us, but always had other things going on. So it was up to my mom to provide all of the nurturing, guidance, providing, etc. That she did. I also have to give credit to my older siblings (of which there are eight, the oldest being 18 years my senior) for really stepping up and helping mom out with me. From the time I was a baby I was cared for by most of my other siblings in addition to my mom. Whenever he had the opportunity my oldest brother Steve really tried to fill that fatherly void. I think he did a pretty good job, as I still look back on the lessons he taught me. Whether they were verbal or example, many still stick in my mind as defining moments of me becoming a man. My sister's doted on me (and some still do... Teri and Lynda I'm looking at you), my brother Walter has helped me out with all of my cars giving up his time and money to help me out and my brother Larry while at times being the annoying immediate older sibling took time to hang out and play football or whatever with me. To this day my siblings look out for me and my family and I hope I can return the favor in some way.
That said nothing could ever compare to my affection I hold for my mom. She was great at building me up and encouraging me. She was always the proudest of my art and she was the one who would spank me when I got into trouble. She gave me boundaries but always gave me more slack than a lot of my friends had. As a result I never wanted to disappoint her. To this day I don't know that I've lied to my mom, you know, from after the age of seven. She taught me to love God, love others and how to be a servant. She led by example. She wasn't perfect, never claimed to be, but she provided what I needed to grow up to be a good man. I'm far from perfect, but I believe the good qualities I possess in my parenting or work ethic or whatever are direct manifestations of her example.
I'm a bit more emotional than the average guy. Not in the sense that I live in a constant fluctuating state of emotion, but in a very sissy way aware of them. I cry when I watch movies at the exact time that they want you to. I'm not ashamed of loving my mom or my family. I never was embarrassed to give my mom a kiss or hug at school. I always thought "my mom rules, why wouldn't I be proud of loving her or her loving me?" I consider myself fortunate to have grown up being loved in such a powerful way.
My family is a family of kissers. We greet each other with a kiss, it's just how we roll. This was a new thing for Heidi, and even Heidi's mom I think was probably taken back the first time I planted one on her. I know I did it out of sheer reflex, not even thinking "hey not all families kiss each other when they see one another". I just thought this is another member of my family now, I love my family and this is how we show our love.
So right now not knowing how much time we have with mom we're all trying to make the most of it. I would love for it to be years. It pains me to think that Zach could grow up not knowing what it was like to be loved by my mom. It just doesn't seem fair to me. I am having a great deal of difficulty coming to terms with this. Surrendering to God's will, whatever that might be... I'm not there. I want to be, but I feel very far away from that place.
For now, I'm going to do my best to appreciate the time I do have and cherish every second.
I just thought I'd include a bunch of photos from Christmas on...