To Be Thankful
Thanksgiving came a week after the wedding.
It was a whirlwind and I forgot to be thankful!
Thanks for Linda's Cooking!
But now that I'm caught up on sleep, I can stop and think about all that amazing Thai food Linda cooked.
Our children were married in Texas a week before Thanksgiving, so we ended up gathering and celebrating for a few days in our home.
Thanks For Time
While the honeymooners spent a couple days in Santa Fe, the rest of us basked in the fact that the wedding was over.
All went so well and there was time to just hang out and relax.
Thankful For Good Health
A year ago, I was still focused on finishing treatments. This Thanksgiving, I didn't even think about my health. Now I'm looking back on this past holiday and I'm thankful for the good health in both our families.
If we hadn't all been so healthy, we wouldn't have been able to have had those crazy ping pong matches. We wouldn't have been able to go on that 4-mile dog walk before our feast. Too bad none of us are healthy enough to jump as high as Lola.
Thanks For Food and Drink
The newlyweds were back in time for champagne toasts and turkey feasting.
We didn't sing our family's traditional song and we didn't go around the table saying what we were thankful for this year. We sort of forgot. But now I'm taking time to feel grateful for all the food and drink... especially since the leftovers are gone.
Thankful For This Little Girl
I feel pretty darn lucky and grateful to have such a fun and flexible family. I know we'll always find a way or a time to come together. I'm thankful for that.
Bossy Mom of Groom
A year and a half ago, I got good at speaking up for myself. I had the cancer excuse, which allowed me to put myself first sometimes. In this photo at Chali and Scott's wedding, I look a little bossy/sassy... the way I'm hanging onto that boy of mine. (That's really just how the photographer posed me.) I kind of wish I'd been a bossier mom at that moment and made a few photo suggestions. But I was enjoying the moment.
With the Parents
The day before the wedding, I did manage to grab a moment and get Scott to pose with Don and me in a photo. It was after the rehearsal and there was lots of photo snapping. Don and I had to rush off to prep for the dinner, but at least we got this fun one.
On wedding day, the time flew by faster. When all was over, I realized I'd never gotten a photo of myself with Scott. The photographers were obviously snapping away, doing their jobs...
But besides the family poses and the Mother/Son dance, I don't recall a moment when Scott and I were near each other. If only I'd thought it through before, I would have been a bossy Mom-of-Groom and dashed up to him at some point. I could have grabbed someone and asked, "Hey! Would you take a pic of us and text it to me!" So simple. Why didn't I?
So if that's my biggest complaint after a spectacular wedding weekend, then I'm one lucky mom! 13 months ago, I would have been delighted if I'd had a glimpse of the future, so I could know how beautiful the special day would be.
It's funny to think back to the warm October day in 2016, when we arrived at Vista West Ranch. The four of us were hot and weary after 2 days of wedding venue shopping. I had recently completed chemo, but was still dragging. My wig was itchy and it was hard to imagine playing a mother-of-the groom role in a year. I snapped a photo of Scott and Chali by the rusty car, before we left. During the drive home I sat in back and patted Lola and wondered about the year ahead.
Now a year has passed and the the wedding is behind us. Both Chali and Scott made my role of Mom of Groom a wonderful experience. Now I have one more title to add to my collection. Like being a parent or even a cancer survivor, I can now hand out advice. When my friends approach the marriages of their kids, I'll have this to say...
"Don't be bossy, but do pleasantly insist if there's something special you want!" Of course it helps to know what that might be, BEFORE the wedding. But now at least I do know. I can take my own advice in 4 months when I'm Mom of the Bride. I'll make sure to grab a moment in all the busy-ness, to get a couple special photos.
What's this blog for?
This griping blog is supposed to relate to cancer. For nearly 1.5 years I have aired frustrations to keep myself sane. These past 4 days have been about Scott and Chali's wedding, not cancer... but I realize now, how lost I feel when things are happening around me and I'm not able to document. I'll abuse my blog... and make it a journal today.
I'm going to share a few thoughts and photos, starting with this photo of me prepping for rehearsal dinner. I'm not faking the glee. I was pretty giddy about the festivities ahead.
Before we even got to the afternoon rehearsal, there were nail salon and Thai lunch gatherings with both families.
From Rehearsal to Dinner
Don and I rushed from the rehearsal to Salt Lick BBQ to set up the drinks and flowers for the dinner.
Toasts & Speeches
The iconic Texas joint was festive and Don's speech was smooth and thoughtful. I know mine was rushed and I left out parts.
I no longer have the "chemo brain" excuse. But years later, my sloppy parts will be forgotten and I'll be glad I spoke and shared.
However, time started running out and I forfeited my turn with the hair specialist. That sounds like a gracious sacrifice, but honestly I looked at my towel dried hair and noticed my curls were on their best behavior. How crazy and lucky that I could go to my son's wedding without even messing with my hair at all. For the first time ever, I felt lucky to have chemo curls.
By the time the bride and groom said their vows, the sun was casting a magical glow. Don and I shared Kleenex while watching, listening and sniffling. I know Scott and Cha so well, so how could they stun me so? The first the sight of them, put a lump in my throat and then their thoughtful vows did me in. Seeing their tears just about put me over the edge, until a gentle breeze played with Chali's veil and made me smile and laugh.
The newlywed's first dance was delightful and upbeat, ending with a playful/dramatic dip/kiss. Chali looked graceful as she danced with her father to Harry Belfonte's, Turn Around. It was a perfect father/daughter choice... a song with which I already had strong sentimental ties. Scott and I danced to Si Tu Vois Ma Mere and I chuckled, when I fumbled a step. Why didn't I take a moment to be more serious during that special son & mom dance. It was the only moment all day that I'd had with that crazy boy of mine. Why didn't I use it to tell him how proud I was of him. Suddenly the wedding was over and they were on their way. I had missed my chance.
The wedding was more beautiful and touching than I ever could have hoped for and yet I felt a bit of melancholy for the next 2 days. Some sad family news came the morning after the wedding and that was the biggest part of it. But even without that news, I recognized those feelings and I think they would have been there regardless.
Oddly, just as I was finishing up this post I noticed a message on my cell. It was the imaging center calling about a refund for an overpayment in May of 2016. That was the day I went in for my biopsy. So even though this blog post was hardly related to my cancer, the phone call was an important reminder. I am so incredibly grateful to be here today. A year and a half ago, Scott and Chali were newly engaged and my sudden diagnosis gave me no hints of where I was headed. I am borrowing this beautiful photo from youaremytrue photographers to remind me of just how very lucky I am!
Wedding in Austin
Good grief! Why did I bother! By the time the cleaners left, I was calling the company to complain and Don and I were racing through the house with dust rags and brooms, while packing our bags for the wedding. Why did I hire them! I growled at myself! I didn't even hire cleaners when I was going through treatments. I guess I just don't like needing help with my house. Grrr!
Instead, I'm thinking of the fun we had with some last minute prep, here in Sugar Land.
Back to the Barbershop
Don and I headed to the Richmond Barber Shop a week ago. When we walked inside, A.D. looked up from his chair with a big smile and said, "There's the star!"
A.D. had set up an interview with someone from Richmond's, Fort Bend Herald. He was pretty giddy to have me tell the story from last year, when I called and asked if he could shave my head. I insisted the focus should be on the sweet and generous barber (him!) who allowed me to be his first woman customer.
Diana from the Herald, arrived and introduced herself. She was very young, born in an era of unisex hair salons.
But she seemed intrigued as she studied the old barber chairs and framed photos that covered the walls. A.D. sat in his rolling, office chair and invited us to sit in the green chairs that lined the wall.
Back in the Day
The shop was closed and quiet on that Monday, but A.D told us how those chairs had often been filled, back in busier days.
"Sometimes there wouldn't even be anyone getting a haircut. The men would just be sitting along there, visiting and carrying on."
It was fun to realize at that moment, there were just as many women as men in the shop... the shop that has always catered to men. I was pretty content focusing on the past and imagining the atmosphere 57 years ago, when A.D. started up.
But it was time for the interview and Diana began by asking questions about my cancer. She asked when I was diagnosed and what stage of cancer I had. She wanted to know how I took the news and what was the hardest part of my cancer.
Why are we talking about this? I wondered. Everybody has cancer these days. My cancer story is nothing. I wanted to talk about my adventure last year and this wonderful barber who shaved my head with a straight edge razor, to give me a fresh start before growing hair, again!
A.D. seemed pretty satisfied sitting in his chair watching us talk, but I attempted to pull him into the conversation. "A.D., am I really the first woman who has ever had her hair cut (or shaved) in your shop?" "Oh yes!" He answered firmly, then added. "Well, sometimes if a little sister or granddaughter comes along, I might let her get up in that chair and trim her bangs as a courtesy. But you're the first woman customer!" I had to explain to Diana that I wasn't really a customer, because he wouldn't allow me to pay.
Diana wanted a picture of A.D. and me. I teased A.D. a little, so he wouldn't be too serious for the camera. I asked him to show me the cup and brush that he used to lather my head. I took a whiff and the scent of ivory soap took me right back to my grandmother's house. So many nostalgia moments!
Steering the Interview
I felt more comfortable joking around, taking photos than I did answering questions. I kept trying to steer the conversation towards A.D.'s generosity and the shop's history.
A.D. kept putting the spotlight on me. "Last year, when Beth walked in my door with that big smile, I knew I had to do whatever she wanted... even though I was a little nervous about shaving her head."
I tried again to control the interview. "Did you know A.D. gets to the shop at 5 every morning?" But Diana had more questions for me. I found myself suddenly babbling.
"Well, shaving my head was a silly thing to do since I hardly had any hair, after chemo. But sometimes you just need to take control and do something to shake things up. When you get cancer, you suddenly feel like you lose control over everything. You have to find ways to make yourself feel empowered. Last year, I figured not many women get a chance to shave their heads in a barber shop, so I should take advantage!"
Hmmm? I listened to myself and I began wondering why I always thought I needed to take control.
As I spoke, I glanced at A.D. and remembered how we had laughed and carried on a year ago. We got to know each other as he shaved my head and even talked a little about cancer. I realized while talking to Diana, that connecting with others isn't just about communicating and sharing with the people we already know.
Five days after the interview, I got a call from A.D.
"Miss Beth, we made the big time! We're on the front page!"
A.D. said he'd mail me a copy, but I said I'd drop by.
I wondered a bit about what Diana had written. I never saw her taking notes. I wasn't sure what she would take away from my rambling.
I stopped by yesterday and A.D. had my paper waiting. He made sure we autographed each other's copies. A.D. was more than pleased with the write-up. I didn't worry that Diana had gotten a few things wrong. I was just happy that my barber and his shop had a good spotlight.
After more thought, I guess I wouldn't necessarily advise getting a post-chemo head shave, to just anyone. But I would tell others, "Figure out what delights you and indulge."
Ice cream, playing piano or a new outfit can do it for some. But during my months of treatment, I got some of my biggest boosts from connecting with strangers. There was something refreshing about talking with people who didn't know me at all. Not every encounter was memorable, but I can't think of any that were negative. I let myself be open to the surprises the came about when I spent a little time with people outside of my usual world. I put down my cell phone in doctor's offices. I stopped to pat dogs on a walk. I chatted with people in the grocery line. Finding that I had things in common with strangers, always gave me a lift. Connecting with others became the thing that delighted me.
A year ago, I thought I was making an appointment with A.D. for a head shave. But without realizing it, I was making an appointment for the best "people encounter" ever!
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast cancer and then I was done.
On March 13, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. Only this time, it was affecting more than me. I ranted for a year, until I got my vaccine in March 2021.
Coronary Artery Disease was the reason I restarted this blog on September 26, 2021. This time it was Don who was dealing with a worry that started with the letter "C".
Coronavirus and Cancer, Coronary Artery Disease! All are evil, but none can totally get me down... if I vent! I usually end up feeling a little more positive at the end of each post!