Monthly Archives: May 2008

Got Mess

You can’t even imagine what just happened at my place! Got up early and reviewed the job boards and target companies. Got a shower. Made myself a healthy omelet with egg substitute, spinach, zucchini, onions, peppers and sriracha sauce. Then decided to make a blueberry/peach smoothie to cover the aloe gel I’m drinking to heal the acid reflux.

Things were progressing well, I had frozen some fresh blueberries and had thrown them in the food processor with some vanilla-flavored rice milk, blueberry juice and the aloe gel. That was processing nicely when I threw in the frozen peach slices. Let’s just say, if I had a sunburn, it would be feeling pretty good right now. I am literally wearing blueberry /peach smoothie.



Filed under Food, Life


 There’s a nice steady rain falling. It’s calming and soothing me. It has cooled off the day’s heat. It is really quite comfortable.

I’m extremely unsettled…very worried about a friend who was supposed to have surgery today at 1:15 pm. I haven’t heard from her husband. I am hoping that’s because the surgery took a long time – which could be good because the doctor had four possible scenarios for what he hoped to accomplish.

She has ovarian cancer. She’s been fighting it for almost 3 years now.  She hasn’t made it into remission. She’s had several different protocols and the cancer seems to respond at first but then it starts ravaging her body again. In her own words:

I have not been responding to any chemotherapy treatments for more than a few months before the cancer becomes resistant to it. Dr. Coukos will first do a laparoscopic procedure in my abdomen to determine if the tumors are removable. Sometimes they are entangled in vessels or attached to organs and difficult to remove. If he feels that he can remove the largest tumor which is 4.8 x 4.1 cm, he will proceed with surgery right after the laparoscopy. He will also try to debulk (remove other tumors) as much as possible.
This is scheduled for May 27th.
If I have the full surgery I will be out of work for at least a month.
The tumors will be sent to a lab in California to see if they can extract enough protein to create a vaccine. The other part of the protocol requires that no tumor remaining in my body be over 2.5 cm. A new CT scan will be done to determine that. If all the things they have to do fall into place and I qualify, they will make a vaccine made with my own antibodies to combat the tumors. When I read the medical descriptions of all the work that Dr. Coukos is doing it makes my head spin.

I am really praying that the reason he hasn’t called is because she had a lot of work done. I am praying that the laparoscopic procedure showed that the largest tumor was removable and that he was able to debulk the other tumors. I am praying that the doctor was successful and was able to remove the tumor that is pressing on her colon so that she will get some relief in the area. I am praying that the tumors he removed are on their way to California. I am praying that my friend’s quality of life will improve and that her life expectancy will be extended. I am praying, praying, praying that she is sleeping soundly without too much pain. I am praying that her husband is just waiting until tomorrow to call us folks that are not family.

I am praying that her doctor did that laparoscopy and then jumped right in there to do battle with those tumors. I am praying that it was a long, hard day but that my friend is a little healthier and has less cancer in her body than when I saw her last night. I am praying that I’ll be able to go over and hang out with her while she recovers. I am praying that she’s out of work for a month and that when her recovery is complete, she’ll be able to go back to work.

God, I’m not done badgering you! I’m praying long and hard and you’ll get no rest tonight – unless my friend is resting in her hospital bed with a big incision and lots of sutures!


Filed under Friends, Life

Joe Notron

So we did a little babysitting over the weekend. Lina and the G-Man came over Sunday afternoon for a few hours. It was a nice break from the “gardening” and home improving. It was also a very joyful couple of hours after the sadness of the week before.

The kids were adorable and easily entertained while I worked in the garden and Muncle Shelden worked on the pool.

Then at lunch time, Lina asked to have her lunch in front of the TV on a TV tray and I allowed it, never realizing that once the G-Man went down for his nap, she would want to stay in the house and watch I-Carly and SpongeBob Whatever, as Muncle Malaprop calls it. Thank God, Joe Notron wasn’t on like he was the other night when we had a Lina sleepover.

Yeah! That’s just scratching the surface…

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Filed under Fact is stranger than fiction, Family, Life

There are no coincidences with God

Did I ever mention that my mom was a secretary at a retirement home for priests? She was a parish secretary too. And she was also secretary to a priest who worked in youth ministry. She was good at it. And she was good with people. She knew how to deal with all types of personalities. She knew how to deal with people when they were at their best and at their worst.

Dolly was compassionate and caring. She was a wonderful co-worker – at least that’s what her co-workers said. I know she was a good mom and wife because I experienced it first-hand.  Oh she had failings, we all do, but she was a pretty awesome lady.

Why am I reminiscing like this?

Today, I met Mike at church so we could get organized and warmed up for this very sad funeral.  I was telling Mike that I remembered singing at this particular church when my girlfriend got married. Mike said, “ I probably shouldn’t tell you this.” I guess the look on my face reflected the puzzlement that I felt.

Mike said, “When I called here yesterday to see what time we could get in the church this morning, the secretary was great. She answered all my questions and was really helpful. Before I hung up I said thank you and asked her name. It was Dolly.”

I felt that lump in my throat but I also felt that sense of calm. It was a difficult morning, but we got through it with the grace of God and the help of a couple of church secretaries named Dolly.

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Filed under Family, Friends, Life

Is there a song for “This Sucks”?

I’m not sure there’s an easy way to blog about this. In fact, there’s a part of me that doesn’t think I want to blog about it. It’s more than a post about the untimely death of a friend’s family member. It’s more about friends and caring and effortlessly picking up where you left off.

So many, many years ago, my husband and I went on a Marriage Encounter weekend. We fared well and will soon celebrate 35 years of wedded bliss. While on that weekend, I was struck by a couple who shared freely and openly and beautifully. I didn’t know them at all but it turned out that they belonged to the parish where I worshipped and sang and played guitar on Sunday mornings. The Sunday after the ME weekend, I saw them and their five children in the front rows of the church pretty much in front of where we played.

Life, you know, is insane and as their children grew, they joined our little group of worshipping, singing, guitar-playing folks. In this group, there were nuns, lay people, high school students and maybe even 8th graders. Some of the folks in this group were family members. One of them joined after she sang at her brother’s wedding, um, her brother married my sister. One of the high school students had joined when she was in elementary school and when she grew older, worked with me.

We worshipped together for many years and friendship blossomed as the young ones grew older. I’m not sure how or why it worked, but it did – this disparate group of folks made some good music and some good liturgy. And we were together – even when one of the nuns (Betty Ann) got locked out of the convent and came to Mass to play her double bass in red sweats.

We played together for weddings and baptisms, First Communions and Confirmations, and yes, for funerals too.  There was a young girl who had Hodgkin’s Disease. She sang with us for a few years. We led worship at her funeral. It didn’t seem right to be singing and playing at a funeral for a 19 year old girl. That, I think, is when I realized that the friendships we made in this group were going to be lifelong.

The nuns sort of scattered to other ministries all over the east coast. As members married and had children, they had less time to be involved. Some of the folks were able to weather the years. But we’re never more than a phone call away and it’s like we never skipped a beat! It’s really an amazing group of people.

I wrote a witness talk about those friendships… about how Pam lived in Syracuse and Liverpool NY and then ended up in Newport News, VA. When her mother died, we drove to Pittsburgh to play at the funeral. When my mom died, she drove from Newport News to play at MY mom’s funeral. When Betty Ann died, I was able to be a part of that funeral, and just like 25 years before, Pam was singing me songs over the phone saying, “You know this one, right?”

That family that sat in the front of church, the one whose oldest son became a part of the group and a dear friend. His siblings joined and it just made the bonds stronger. When their dad died, we were away on vacation and Shel and I were able to change our plans to come back a day earlier and be there to play at the funeral.

Oh it isn’t just about funerals, really. We played at weddings and as kids were born, at baptisms. There’s an amazing legacy of worshipping our Creator through music. I would get involved in some crazy church thing and call Cindi and Terri and Mike and off we would go to sing and play music together – I think they had fun. I know that I couldn’t have done it without them. I should add that as years progressed, I would call my siblings and Mike’s siblings and later, my nieces and nephews, to come and sing for a wedding or funeral or just for Mass on Saturday night.

And, now I know I’m rambling so bear with me, but the other day I got a call on my cell from Mike and he needed help planning funeral music – funeral music for his 43 year old brother-in-law.  His wife’s sister’s husband had died suddenly – so suddenly – too suddenly. And as soon as I could get home, there we were, singing over the phone, “You know this one, right?” I really didn’t ask him, I just said, “It’s ok, I’ll be there. We’ll do it together.” Pretty presumptuous of me… but if the roles were reversed, I would want Mike there for me.

This afternoon, I called Cindi and asked her if maybe she could come tomorrow. She might not be able to, but it was clear she would have if she could. I’d like to call Terri and I know I could, I know I should, but she’s been so involved with her sister and sick nephew who has cancer, it might be hard for her to get off work.

Mike came over today and we rehearsed the songs and cried together.  We talked about Pam and Betty Ann. We talked about other group members. We talked about our kids. I told him I might call Cindi. But even if it’s just the two of us, I think it will be fine tomorrow. The tears are flowing freely now as they did this afternoon and my heart is aching for them, for what that family has to deal with tonight and tomorrow – but more, for what that family has to deal with in the future.

It really does suck. Big time. It shouldn’t be this way but it is. We have laughed together. We have cried together. Maybe if we make it to heaven, we’ll laugh forever. I hope we’ll sing together forever. Barb and BettyAnn are waiting for us. Lee and Mom and Big Ernie are listening.

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Filed under Friends, Life, Music