Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Autumn Weekends with Mom

With Mom's diagnosis has come a compelling urge to enjoy every moment and document, document, document. I don't have the best memory, and I don't want to forget any of the wonderful moments we've been given. I've even taken to recording her voice when I can, and taking videos of just normal interactions

Within our budget, we've been trying to infuse the weekends with happy, fun times. Thankfully, up until this point, Mom's only side effect from her two doses of chemo has been tiredness. She started a new round because the other chemo didn't really do a whole lot.

Mom and Dad moved to an apartment 1.4 miles from us at the end of August. I still can't believe that they are so close and absolutely cherish being able to stop by in the morning with coffee, or swing by after work. Mom settled in pretty quickly, and we set about making the most of the new area.

Sept. 7th

We had an intention mass for Mom. I had no idea when Nathan and I chose the date that the priest was also doing a blessing of the sick, which is only done quarterly. When Mom was returning to the pew, she had tears in her eyes. It was the first time since the news I have seen her upset. At the end of the mass, Msgr. Don said special intentions for a few people, including Mom. On the drive home, we stopped by a vegetable stand on a whim. I remember her posing by this sign and thinking In spite of everything, it already is a beautiful day. Once again I am reminded that although we cannot control what happens to us, we can control what we do with it. It is possible to have cancer, and still have a beautiful day.


Sept. 8th


We went to the Olde Ship British Pub in Fullerton. A nice surprise: Mom's friend Stacy showed up! Mom had her favorite, fish and chips, and rhubarb custard crisp. Must make this for her! Afterward, we went to the British Grocer.
Sept. 10th
The day before Mom's gamma knife procedure we were able to have high tea on the Queen Mary. The idea actually came from my friend Krista's hubby - who even knew there was a princess Diana exhibit.

Not knowing what the gamma knife surgery would be like...I had a heightened level of anxiety on the drive to Long Beach. Mom and I held hands as she sung along with the Hollies On a Carousel, Nancy Sinatra, The Moody Blues, The Vogues, Herman's Hermits and Gerry and the Pacemakers. These songs spurred memories and before I knew it, she was talking about her very first job at the counter for barrettes in Woolworth back in England, and how they had a 45 record player close by that she was able to listen to.

Dad and Glen went with and toured the ship. Ever the giver, Mom was sure to save some of her desserts for the boys. As we were getting ready to leave, they tried to sell us the photo they had taken beforehand. I thanked him, but explained that we couldn't afford it. Mom asked if we could come back and get it a few weeks later and I told her it wouldn't be available...but, he explained it would be. I said well, maybe we'll do that knowing that it likely wouldn't ever happen. We thanked the man, and headed to the parking lot. And then, he came running, free code with the pictures in his hand. Again, I was reminded: there are good people out there.

Sept 15th 
Drag show brunch in West Hollywood? Sure! Why not? Helen invited me and I don't do anything these days without Mom tagging along. Her response when I asked her? Sure, why not? 



Sept 22nd
Since Mom's diagnosis, I have asked friends to write to her because she loves snail mail, and has yet to send an email.
Paulette, the mother of a friend of mine, has taken to writing Mom almost daily. Paulette gave Mom an admit two to Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar, and so we decided to check it out.
Mom loves thrift stores, and the gardens happened to be across the street from one of her favorite ones, so we ducked in there first. I found some fall decorations, and she looked for some warmer clothes for our upcoming trip to San Francisco. As we walked around the gardens, I noticed Mom's energy levels were low, for the first time. Mom still had fun We plan to go back sometime soon.







Sept. 28th
San Francisco!
Okay, this wasn't exactly in our budget, especially with the wedding coming up...but, we wanted to make a road trip while Mom was still able to go. Mom and Dad lived in San Francisco before I was born, and I had never been with them. This weekend warrants its own blog entry, but I would spend twice the amount of money in a heart-beat. Attending mass at the mission, walking around their old neighborhood and seeing their apartment, going to my Mom's old office building - one of the tallest in SF- and having dinner at the Empress of China which remains unchanged since she was taken for business lunches long ago were all priceless experiences. Even the car ride was wonderful, because we were together. 
Working on baby blankets on the drive.
October 5th

Dress fitting!!!!!!!!! Mom was her usual, calm, loving, happy self and was extremely helpful during what could have been a stressful appointment. Not only was she helpful to me, but to the other woman being fitted next to me. Mom isn't boastful, and she doesn't pretend to know what is best, but she listens and in doing so, makes people feel good about themselves. I looked at the woman who was alone at the appointment, and wondered where her Mom was. Again, I told myself I was lucky and to be thankful for today.

October 6th
Tanaka Farms pumpkin patch! Mom loved interacting with the children in our group, and I thought of how wonderful she would be with our children. The thought of her not being there for them; for me for them, was too much and I pushed it aside. And here it is again.

October 13th
My bridal shower tea was over-the-top amazing, and all the result of Nathan's sister and mother's hard work and great attention to detail. There were a lot of people there that I hadn't seen in quite awhile, so I wasn't able to just sit and talk with Mom. But I loved looking over at her - the mother of the bride - and seeing her enjoying her friends, and interacting with mine. 

October 19th
We went to a friend's 2 year old's birthday party and Mom is like the baby whisper. 

October 20th
Mom and Dad were able to go to go see Fiddler on the Roof at a local theater place less than a mile from their place! I wasn't able to go because the tickets were given to them, but it felt so good knowing that they were taken care of that day, and enjoying some much-needed time alone.

October 26th
All this brings us to our past weekend at the St. Regis. You remember me saying we were on a budget, right? Well, there is no way we would spend what this spa day cost, even if we had it! And while I am not at liberty to disclose just how were were able to swing it, I will say once again that there are some very good people out there.

 After our treatments, we were relaxing in the women's lounge with chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne. I was secretly enjoying eavesdropping on the conversation between the other 4 women, two of whom lived in Coto de Caza, an exclusive gated community on Orange County.

Mom and I were getting ready to leave the lounge and have lunch. I helped her gather up her belongings and we put our arms around each other's waist. One of the women said "I just have to say that you are so lucky to be here, enjoying this day together. My Mom died four years ago and I would give anything just to hold her hand."

We were both taken aback, and I shared with her Mom's diagnosis. Her Mom had the same thing, and as she continued talking I noticed her friends were tearing up, and so was the spa manager.


I was already making a conscious effort to be in the present moment and enjoy this time with Mom, but this was an overt reminder. It's as if she was sent to remind us, just in case.




Thankfully, Mom's side effects from her new chemo. aren't too bad. Or, at least not as bad as we were expecting. Mom is pretty tough, and not a complainer at all, so when she mentions her bones aching, it means she's feeling it. She was scheduled for a second does the Wednesday before the wedding, but we have decided to push it back until the following week. That way, she will really be able to enjoy the day; the dance with Nathan, visiting with her cousin who is coming over from Ireland, and spending time with Lucinda who lives in NY and Mom hasn't seen since I was just a few months old!

She will also enjoy the wedding more because on Monday, we received some positive news: her brain tumors are decreasing in size, have not spread, and there is no swelling. This was just the boost we needed to carry us through the next 15 days until the wedding!

Now, what fun activity can we plan for this weekend?