October is breast cancer awareness month.
I am already very aware of breast cancer.
I hate it every day.
It’s the reason my children don’t have a Maw Maw.
It’s the reason I don’t have a Mama.
It’s the reason for a lot of misery and waste not only in our small family’s lives but in the lives of countless other families that are similar to ours but have their own individual story.
I am aware.
I wasn’t really thinking about October being breast cancer awareness month, at all. Then Tuesday night I happen upon a link about what it means to think you are beautiful on the inside and it said something about no make-up selfies. I clicked that link and found myself on a post entitle, ‘WHAT MY MOTHER’S BATTLE WITH BREAST CANCER TAUGHT ME ABOUT TRUE BEAUTY’. About a month ago, I wrote about my mother-in-law and mentioned I wasn’t ready to write about my mom and dad. I still may not be, and I have no intention of writing about my mom’s cancer.
Instead, I just want to write down 5 special memories.
I though it was something everyone could do if they missed someone. Think of that person, gather 5 memories you hold dear, and write them down. I think putting them in writing is a nice way to honor, remember, and save memories for you children of important people in your life.
As far as breast cancer is concerned, the pink ribbons kinda just make me sad. I do like the message of early detection. Don’t put it off. Get checked, get a mammogram, learn how to properly check yourself, and actually do it. There are a lot of people that will be happy you did if you are the one in 8 women who learn they have to fight this ugly disease.
Oh and by the way, I did do my no make-up selfie on Instagram with the hash-tag IamBraveandBeautiful. Here I am:
Just 5 Memories:
Sometime in the mid 70’s, I remember this well so I couldn’t have been much less than 10, in Hanceville, Alabama I was playing in the yard. I vividly recall being in my fictitious courtroom in the wild west and being found guilty. The sentence? Death by hanging. Well, I made a noose and tied it to the swing set in the yard but I must have made it just a little too short. I was stretched out tippy toes barely holding my weight on the ground and gagging. In the kitchen Mama was washing dishes and looking out the window. She saw me and was so scared that Daddy said she couldn’t even scream. She just had a look on her face pointing. When he saw what was going on, he ran outside, whipped out his pocket knife, and cut me down. I sometimes end this tale by saying that then Daddy took that rope and whipped me with it, but in reality I think by the time I was cut down and loose from the rope, Mama was out there scooping me up making sure I was okay. I’m pretty sure they didn’t let me outside to play wild west by myself anymore either.
In January of 1983, in West Monroe Louisiana, at the ripe old age of 14, I got my first kiss. I can still tell you many things about that 24 hours. I can tell you that the boy cranked his car so it would warm up and turned the radio on. I can tell you that I was wearing a white sweater with rainbow colors shooting across it. I can tell you that ‘We’ve Got Tonight’ was playing on the radio. And I can tell you about the next day. The next day Mama came and picked me up in this brown Chevy truck we had. I was spending the night at a friends because sometime during that month we moved to Baton Rouge and we were back and forth. So we were riding along in the truck just talking normal when out of the blue she ask me, “So did James kiss you last night?” What? How did she know that? I felt my face flush and my stomach get tense. Then she said, “You don’t have to say, I can tell. Was it nice?” All I did was nodded a little and then we went on talking about other stuff as if that conversation that was still hanging in the air wasn’t there at all.
The first few years after I got married, we lived next door to Mama and Daddy in Russellville Alabama. Mama almost never walked down to our house. And when I say almost never, I mean maybe twice a year. So one day new hubby and I had been fighting. I wanted to keep taking photography at UNA and get a loan for camera equipment. I had 2 wedding shoots under my belt and wanted to branch out. Well, he said no on the borrowing money. After he left for work the next day I was having a little crying crazy hissy-fit in my home all by myself. Then I heard a knock, the door open, and mama say ‘Are you home?’ Well, there I sat, puffy and tear faced, on the floor in the living room, with an iron skillet full of torn burning paper consisting of college forms, camera catalog, photo pricing list I had made, and other assortment of picture related things. She didn’t act very surprised or like I was insane, she just took the fire to the kitchen sink and let it burn out and then held me for a long time before asking what was wrong. After I sobbed through my whole pitiful story she hugged me some more and said something like, “Don’t you think George is right?” (He was right.) Then she added, “Just wait a few months and see what works out.” That kind advice has served me well through the years.
This one is a combo. I don’t think my mom was in the room when my first child was born. I’m not really sure why not. He was her third grandchild and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t in the room with my sister’s two so maybe we just never talked about it. But with my next two we still didn’t talk about it beforehand but she was there. In fact my first daughter was born in 1994 and at the time Mama and I weren’t on happy terms. I’m not really sure the reason for that either. But the day Linden was born, Mama came back to the room while I was in labor and never left. She loved on me while I was hurting, helped me out of my clothes when I wanted in the shower, and helped me back to the bed when I thought I was going to give birth right there in the shower stall. (In case you wonder, hubby was there, poor baby, he’s not much help when there’s pain and blood and guts.)
When our second daughter, third child, was born in the wee hours of the morning she almost caught the baby herself. All the sudden I had an indescribable pain, I was yelling, “She’s coming!” The nurse was trying to get the bed into position. The doctor was washing his hands. And then there Claire was, born. Mama and the nurse were at the foot of the bed. On the video you can hear me say, “Did I even push?” and Mama and the nurse both reply, “Nope, no pushes.” It was incredible and later Mama told people how the baby almost landed on the floor.
If I were to guess I would say the year was 2008. I might not be right but I’m close. Mama’s cancer had moved to her bones. She had to go to UAB for surgery where they took out, rebuilt and replaced a vertebra. The room we stayed in was very nice for a hospital and had a window seat that folded out and made into a bed. One night after the lights were out and I thought Mama was asleep, I lay down under a folded sheet and closed my eyes. I’m not sure if I nodded off or not but someone put a blanket over me. When I opened my eyes it was the male nurse that had went on shift a few hours earlier. He smiled and told me that I looked cold and to go back to sleep. I nodded. When he left the room out of the grey darkness of the dim room Mama said, “I’m gonna tell George that another man tucked you in bed tonight.” Well I thought that was hysterically funny and she made me quit laughing because it was making her laugh and it hurt her to laugh at the time.
I own one pink ribbon pin. It’s the one someone bought for me when Mama died to wear to her funeral. I still don’t wear it very often but I had it on at the weddings of my older two kids, at my dad’s funeral, and a few times since then. My mother loved them, that makes me more okay with it now. They still make me sad so I keep mine tucked away. People don’t seem to take kindly to my non-pink participation, I actually started this post with a well written perspective (okay, it was actually a rant) on how they make me feel. I saved it over in a private file. It felt good to write but too personal for a post that is NOT about my mother’s breast cancer.
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