Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I hate cancer!

A very good friend of 38 years told me recently that he has a very large tumor and it is stage 3, probably lymphoma, and it is entangled in the blood vessels of his stomach, liver, and spleen.  Due to this, it is most likely not operational.  They are putting a port in this week to allow chemo treatments to begin.

I met him when we were 7 and in 2nd grade.  He made me laugh.  Quite a lot.  I beat him up once because he picked on a friend of mine that was smaller than him and it made me angry.  Then when we were in senior year of high school we began dating.  He proposed to me.  I accepted.

Later on he decided he wasn't ready to be engaged, nor married, and so it didn't happen for us.  However, we remained close friends all this time.  I adore him.  He is still funny, very loyal, and just a good all around kind of guy.

I haven't handled it well, this news.  I am angry and sad and just overwhelmed.  All the feelings I had when my sister called me in 2010 with her news came rushing back.  The feelings I had in 2011 when she passed away.  The feelings from last week when the year anniversary of losing her came up.  I know this friend much more so than I did my sister.  I talked about that last week, how she and I did not grow up knowing one another.

I know this man.  I know his parents, his grandparents.  What makes him angry, what makes him smile, what makes him laugh.  How he loves motorcycles and old cars, tearing them apart, putting them back together.  How his beard is red, but when he still had hair it was not.

Memories abound and I cannot quiet them.  They run amok in my head like a bunch of toddlers hyped up on sugar.  Twirling and dancing their way across my mind.  The time he sent me a pair of Levi jeans with the holes patched up with red fabric hearts when I was in San Antonio for the Air Force and incredibly homesick.  Knowing he had cut out those hearts and sewn them onto my jeans himself.  The cake he made me from scratch for my 18th birthday when not one family member remembered it at all.  How I walked across the stage at graduation in a cap & gown because he insisted it was the right thing to do, when all I wanted was to sit in the audience and get my diploma afterward because no family were coming to watch me.

The nights under the stars, sitting on a blanket in various state parks, talking about the future, what we both hoped for in our lives.  The week at the lake up in the mountains.  Cruising the ave in his father's huge silver cadillac or his father's enormous motorcycle.

Yes, I am angry.  So very, very angry.  I am not ready to say goodbye to yet another person I love.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Who Knew?

I have always wondered about my family lineage.  Where we came from, what our ancestors were like, what they all went through, etc.  That said, I dug little, but very little.  The past few days I have been digging deep.  Very, very deep.

I have discovered a thoroughly interesting family pedigree on both my maternal & paternal lines.  I had always been told we were Irish, Dutch, Welsh, and English on my mom's side.  Told we were Scottish, German, Jewish, French, and French Canadian on my father's.

As it turns out, and I'm in the mid-800's on the paternal side of my maternal lineage, and the late-900's on the maternal side of it, we are very much English, French, and a little bit German, Belgian, and Welsh.  So far not one drop of Irish or Dutch what so ever.  There is a LOT of French though, and not one of my great-aunts or great-uncles seemed to know, because they never once talked about it.  Also, I am thinking they somewhere along the way, started mispronouncing Deutsch as Dutch, as do many Americans.  So, they ended up thinking Dutch when really they're German.

I have begun digging on my father's side as well, and got quite a bit done, though no where near as in depth as the other side of my family tree is going.  We are very German, French, and a bit English.  No Scottish at all, and if we are Jewish they didn't record it, and I'm pretty sure they would have had to at some point in records that the churches kept.  They are, for the most part, very detailed records.  As to the French Canadian, I'm thinking not so much.  I can't find anything at all about any of our family having come to the US from Canada at all.

I have found plenty of excitement though.  Knights, lords, ladies, dukes, duchesses, earls, barons, baronesses, and a whole plethora of castle born and castle builders.  These are primarily in France, Normandie to be exact, and England, though several are on the borderlands of Wales and England, and one in Belgium.  There are photos of several of the castles, some of which are down to foundations, but two of which are fairly substantial and are lovely.  I have found family crests, intrigue, and tales of murder.  Yes, murder.  Also, at least one died whilst defending his castle and family against siege.

Arranged marriages to gain political standings, strengthen one's holdings, and so on...oh you betcha! We had those aplenty.  Seriously.  I have a very distant aunt who was named Hedwig, and as a devoted Harry Potter fan, well, I thought it quite fascinating.  Also, there is a poor distant uncle who was recorded in the church records as William the Bastard.  Yes, really.  That can't have been easy to grow up with.  Just imagine how the legitimate children and his father's wife treated him.  Poor lad.

There is the one who was a crusader, the one who came from Normandie to help settle the Welsh borders and was Lord Marcher.  That means marshal also, and the marshals worked for kings to keep order in the land.  Imagine that.  What I want to figure out is, how did we go from titled land owners in France & England to people who left Europe on ships for America.  Why did they leave?  What happened to those who stayed?  Do I have family in France, England, Wales, and Germany today?  If so, who are they, what are they like?

Oddly enough, I have always loved tales of knights, ladies & lords, castles, dragons, jousting, and so on.  I adore medieval histories and have read about them at length.  I have even written a faux history on myself to prep for a character when I was going to join SCA.  Even more odd, she was living in England in the 1200's and had French lineage.  Seriously.  I did that about 5 years ago now.  Pretty darn awesome right there!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Year Ago Today

I lost my big sister Judy to her fight against cancer.  She fought hard & for a year.  So brave, so strong, so amazing.

The 2nd & last time I was able to see & visit my sister

Sadly we didn't know one another growing up, we had different mothers.  She grew up in southern California with our two brothers, and I grew up in Washington where I was raised an only child for most of my life.  I was to gain step-siblings from both my parents, but the one set were nearly mom's age, and the other I wasn't to meet until I left home at 17.

Judy & I first met at the same time I met my eldest brother, in Alaska when our father passed away.  I was 29 years old, Mike was 39, and then Robert & Judy each several years younger than Mike.  She had the biggest, brightest smile.  I loved seeing her smile.  I loved that our hair was very similar, that she and I wore the same size shoes even though I was a few inches taller.  That we both so deeply loved our children.  That we loved teasing our brothers and cousins as often as possible.

There is so much I'd say to her given the chance.  I wasn't able to get down to Arkansas and say goodbye and it hurt...still hurts so much.  To say I wish I could have gone isn't going to be any where near good enough to cover how I feel about not getting to go.  I wish I'd called her more often and gotten to know one another better.  I used to write her in the beginning, but life for both of us kept us so busy and the letters trickled off.

The visit from the photo above was a good one.  Two of my daughters were able to be there and meet their aunt Judy and in particular one of them became quite attached to her.  Both adored her, but my youngest was drawn to her aunt Carmen at the time; both girls spent hours talking to their respective favored aunt.  I loved seeing that.  My childhood is colored with love due in a very huge part to my aunts, they remain a true blessing to me, and my kids hadn't had that particular blessing in their own lives as I had, knowing close family so well, being surrounded, loved, and supported by them.

Today my nieces are struggling with memories, missing their mom, trying to get through this day without being able to hear her voice telling them she loves them.  I know that pain as I have lost my dad, ten years and it's still mostly raw, filled with longing to call and hear that voice tell me every little thing is going to be okay.  I want to buy Old Spice and a flannel shirt, spray it and curl up with it.  I'm sure the girls each have certain things that strongly bring back all the good memories, and I hope & pray each of them feel their mama's love today, wrapping them up tight and letting them know she's with them.  I hope my brother-in-law also feels her love that way.  He is in Arkansas, one of the girls in Arizona, and two in Idaho.  For her granddaughter, who is still so very young, I hope she feels her grandma's love & that her own mama & aunt can help her today.  I hope they call one another and share the ache to make it more bearable.

Most of all I wish them love.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Back To School I Go...

at last, at last!  So, I have dealt with the sadness, frustration, anger, and so on in having had to leave school and give up professional massage therapy.  I honestly think I went through all the stages of grieving, but finally was able to let it go and look forward again.  Then, of course, I came to acknowledge that I enjoy learning, that even at approaching 45, I want to learn, I want to have a career in something I'm good at and want to do.

I spent several long weeks doing a lot of contemplating, mulling over, and so on.  Back in my very young days I drew, painted, sketched, and otherwise spent countless hours of my life in some form of art or another.  I also, years ago, nearly went to school to earn a degree in interior design, wanting to focus on kitchen & bath design.

My husband is a draftsman, his father a contractor, and they take me to home builder's shows when they come up, and I've also been in on meetings with customers, helped with choosing colors, textures, and so forth and so on.  I like it.  Rather a lot actually.

I then did a search to see about just getting into kitchen & bath design, and lo and behold, there is a national certification association, and also I also found a college that you can earn a degree in this very field at.  I was plum tickled pink y'all...so very happy!

I am proud to announce that my classes begin on Monday.  Yeah, Monday.  As in three days from today. Gulp.  Been on the phone and computer busting my behind getting essays, applications, other assorted and varied paperwork done, and trying to take placement tests, test out on a few things, and orientation from 2 1/2 hours away.  Whew.  Are you tuckered out just reading all that?  I am.

My school is in Pittsburgh and I am not.  As I said, I am over 2 hours away, and my entire degree will be earned via online long distance learning.  Oh boy.  Let the games begin right?  That's going to take some perseverance, dedication, hard work, and sweet tea.  Yeah howdy.

Last night I dreamed I needed to be on campus and had to move to Pittsburgh away from the family, horses, dogs, and such.  Let's hope not eh?  Not at all what I want to have happen.  Not in any way, shape or form.  I like Pittsburgh well enough; the art, the food, the people, but I don't want to have to ever again live in a big city unless it's either Spokane or Seattle.  Period.

Anyhow, that's what's new with me.