day in the life
the everyday life of a couple living well with a slow-growing
always easy, and there will certainly be sorrows and losses
along the way. But being alive is good. It is very good.
Reflections on a rainy day
Winnie-the-Pooh sort of day. Blustery. Raindrops clinging to windows. Leaves lying damp on the sidewalk.
This is my absolute
favorite time of the year. Golden colors turning into chilly
autumn, turning into falling snowflakes and white-covered
Cascade peaks. And in the middle of all this outdoor beauty
Thanksgiving, Christmas, a New Year.
It has also been the
season of saying a long, slow, sweet good-by to Hubby.
was hard. He
slept the entire day, ate very little, was confused during the
brief times of wakefulness. The sleeping, the
not-eating I can handle; the confusion is frightening.
But yesterday and today, Hubby
awake more, is eating, and most importantly, no
confusion. Ah, hope. Sweet gift.
front porch is seeing quite a bit of activity. A
beautifully-crafted *guardian angel* from June Bug; another
Porch Fairy drive-by; and something from the Knitting Fairy.
even know there was a Knitting Fairy, but I love that she left
rich autumn colors on our front porch.
The card was signed:
“Much love from the Knitting
The beginnings of fingerless
And then look what
showed up on our front porch yesterday. These girls. Sis-In-Law
Cheryl and Niece Angie.
And have they got
plans for Hubby. For starters, homemade cream of mushroom soup
for lunch. Fleece sheets. Fleece pajama bottoms. Fresh fruit.
Hubby doesn’t stand
SIL Cheryl was the one who invited me to her family reunion where I met her big
brother. And you know the rest of that story.
The Porch Fairy
struck again. At 8:00am. Chai tea, pumpkin bread and a Lady Bug.
A wind-up Lady Bug boogying across Hubby’s bedside table. Left
on the front porch.
And then again at
noon, another Porch Fairy hit. Fried rice, Egg Drop Soup,
pumpkin scones and more tea.
Meanwhile, the call
went out this morning on Facebook:
have a tire with a slow leak.”
Wondering if anyone had some spare time to take it in for
repair. (Daughter Summer surely is proud of me for asking for
By 2:30 this
afternoon, our vehicle had been picked up and safely returned
with a repaired tire.
And a rather
handsome young man behind the wheel.
A slow leak of
kindness has been seeping through our lives, and I can’t seem to
keep up with the thank-you notes.
Our hearts are full
of gratitude for all the goodness that has come of this
devastating disease. This cancer.
Jonathan and Muna,
you rocked the tire repair today.
And Porch Fairy,
your note about the wind-up Lady Bug being a Duck because it’s
noisy and has wings? You rock the creative porch
drop-offs, but not so much the entomology.
Sunday, October 19,
A thanksgiving list
rolls through my head. Often. Like when I make a prescription
pick-up. Thankful that the car starts. Every time.
Thankful for the
freedom to move about town, the hospice team, the availability
of meds, the pharmacy that filled the script ... you get the
things, there’s still so much to be grateful for (for which
to be grateful?).
1. Friends who
stopped by yesterday for a visit and re-planted our birdfeeder
so Hubby could see the activity from his hospital bed.
2. The Porch
Fairy’s drive-by this morning.
3. Dark chocolate—a.k.a.
Vitamin C—and coasters in a beautiful purple gift bag reminding
us that yes, life is a special occasion.
4. A fleecy, Ducky
pillow case fur Hubby (being an OSU grad, the gift-giver
insisted these were Beavers, but she’s
5. Chai tea.
Because one can never be too thankful for Chai tea.
6. Fall colors
7. A generous
package in yesterday’s mail that included the smell of Yuletide
Cinnamon candles—it’s never too early to light a Christmas
candle—and the reminder that, indeed, all is well with our
8. The anticipation
of Denver beating San Francisco later today.
9. The incredibly
thoughtful, creative, helping-us-fight-cancer, kind,
mischievous, would-do-anything-for-us people in our lives.
10. One more day
with Hubby; one more day in which he is able to propel himself
out of bed on his own steam.
An infuser showed up.
With essential oils. Our home currently smells citrus-spicy.
Yum. Thank you, Sandy.
And this on our
front porch early this morning. Susan, your name is all over
this Chai tea.
And then a book
showed up. A hand-crafted gift filled with memories of
adventures with our cancer-kicking community in these incredible Cascade
Thank you, Kathy & Mike.
Such a thoughtful gift.
Hubby and I are surrounded
by some of the most amazing people on the planet.
Speaking of Hubby and me, a hospital bed selfie.
If he looks a bit
distracted, it’s because I’m competing with baseball
play-offs. And the Patriots vs. the Jets. All at the same time.
Thanks, Gary and
Carolyn ... I think.
I’ve been working
full-time from home these past two days. And I’ve loved every
Jessica and Alycia with
Lizzi with a banana
shake for Hubby (dark chocolate for me, which Hubby
tried to steal as soon as Lizzi left).
This e-mail from
I drop off a Chai tea at a specific time by your front door and
not knock to disturb Gary if I get there right on time so that
you could just retrieve it?”
No, you may not drop and run. I want a hug. Besides, isn’t that
a run-on sentence?
This text from
– can I drop off a little something sweet to yous this early
Cupcakes (only the best in town)
No shortage of
lovely visitors. Including Nurse Melinda who was here once
yesterday and twice today.
Oh, and the guy
from Norco who disassembled Hubby’s hospital bed and reassembled
it in the living room. And then came back today and brought a
Just don’t tell my
boss how many visitors we’ve had. She’ll think I’m not working.
And then there’s
this question: Why is everyone trying to feed us?
Monday, October 13,
Still looking for the perfect beverage
Speaking of grocery
store runs—five in two days, but who’s counting—I won’t bore you with
another top-shelf-of-the-fridge photo.
testing - peach, cherry, pear
But suffice it to say that Looza Peach Juice Drink,
365 Black Cherry Juice and Knudsen Organic Pear Juice are now crowded in with all the other
had much of an appetite this past week. And when he does make an
attempt to eat—a
couple bites here and there—food
Same with thirst.
just sipping at stuff. You know what might be good, he
says. And off to the grocery store I run.
The beverage aisle
and I have become intimately acquainted.
Grape juice and
orange juice. Two flavors of sparkling cider. Four different
kinds of fruit-infused waters. Dr. Pepper and 7-Up. Chocolate
milk. Crystal Geyser Juice Squeeze, which has always been Hubby’s
favorite fruity beverage.
But nothing that excites his taste buds.
And then just now
know what sounds good? A Chai tea.”
not messing with me? I’ll
be right back.
You can see why we’re
soul mates. This is a man still winning my heart. Daily.
Tuesday, October 7,
We got home from SunRiver
to find a moose on our front porch.
Perhaps I should explain. A
friend recently visited her old stomping grounds. She posted:
to figure out how to bring some Alaska to you and hubby. Any
Hubby asked for Baked Alaska, and I requested a
live baby moose. A moosling. We’re
both easy to please.
Apparently something got lost
in the translation. Because we found this hand-crafted,
ornament planted in a rather large
and beautiful fall bouquet. On our front porch. (If I can’t
have a live moose, this is definitely the next best thing.)
That same day in the mail, an
unexpected check from friends in California, which will
be put toward more memory-making. While there’s still time.
This afternoon, a text message:
“You up for a cup of Chai tea?”
When have I ever not been up for Chai?
And so, a visit
from local friends bearing gifts.
And then this
evening, another Chai tea visit with friends passing through on
their way from Southern Oregon to Boise.
Rabindranath Tagore said,
slept and dreamt life was joy; I awoke and saw life was service;
I acted and, behold, service was joy.”
Why does it seem that we are being served more than we are
I suppose my focus
of service at the moment is caregiving for Hubby. And of course
my day job at the cancer center.
guessing God is producing humility in me by allowing us to be in
a place that involves more receiving and not so much
serving. Which isn’t necessarily a comfortable place to be.
The card that came
with the check from California reads like this:
always always always remember you are loved.”
Feeling loved as we
step out into this unknown next stretch of the cancer journey.
Kattaryna and Sam. Mike and Carol. Tom and Fran. Harry and Lori.
Because you are the most recent in a long line of family and
have reminded us that we’re
not traveling this way alone, that we are loved.
Sunday, October 5,
A wild life
We persuaded Hubby
to come with us for a drive into the Cascades. And even though
feel like walking to the lake viewpoints from the parking areas,
still, he was out and about, enjoying mountain sunshine and
First stop: Sparks
Lake where the chipmunks got equal photo coverage
(actually, probably a little more photo coverage)...
... than the
And then a stop at
Todd Lake to introduce our kids to more of the locals.
When we were
growing up together as a married couple, Hubby’s
job programming large IBM computers required he work in cities
and larger towns. We intentionally chose to live in the
beautiful Pacific Northwest, and Hubby chose to commute a little
so we could bring up our kids in smaller towns and semi-rural
From time to time
wondered out loud what we did wrong because our children love
big cities and crazy traffic and a faster pace of life. A
friend, upon hearing we’d
raised them in small towns, said,
what you did wrong.”
say this about having city kids, though. It’s
easy to keep them amused when they come to visit. We
simply introduce them to the local wildlife.
Son Jeremy is the breakfast-maker in the family. Plates
of eggs topped with avocado; red onion; peperoncini; red, orange
and yellow peppers; green olives; garbanzo beans. Oh, and don’t
forget the hot sauce.
Or oatmeal with
fresh-ground peanut butter, walnuts, raisins, dried cherries,
coconut, dates, bananas and a bit of honey.
Much like when our
daughter was visiting, we’ve
been eating like royalty.
SunRiver all over again
You can never get
too much of SunRiver. We’re
back at one of our favorite places, a short distance from home
in a wooded mountain resort village. This time, celebrating a visit
from Son Jeremy and DIL Denise.
Deer in the yard.
As with all our SunRiver stay-cations.
A puzzle, courtesy
of Jeremy and Denise, spread out
before a welcoming fire.
J&D cooking dinner.
Well, Denise cooking. Jeremy supervising. Yum homemade chili and
unlighting of the day—or better known as dusk.
Denise's favorite time of the day
(Dusk and dawn—the
changing of the light—happen
to be my two favorite times. Denise said she saw the
dawn once and it was overrated.)
Our new best
friend, Nurse Melinda, was here yesterday to test Hubby’s
blood. She ordered lymphedema massage—Hubby’s
legs and feet sort of resemble tree trunks—and
now, in the comfort of our own home, Hubby will receive regular
leg massage. Imagine that.
vacation cabin comes with bikes, but Hubby probably won’t
be climbing up on a bike this weekend. He’s
slowed down these past couple weeks. This could be because the
stent/neph tube issue still isn’t
resolved. My theory is that as soon as he can get the stents
bounce back. Hubby isn’t
buying this theory.
Either way, whether
this is a fixable issue, or the ongoing march of cancer, there
is today. There is family time in a cabin in the woods. A
fire burning. A puzzle waiting to be put together. Denise
has offered to cook dinner again this evening. And—with one win for Team G&M
and one for Team J&D—there is a championship game of Hand and
Foot to be played tonight.
All is peaceful and
well in our world.
Look who showed up
at our house this week. Hubby’s
nephew Stan, his wife Kris and two of our great-nieces (grandnieces?). Lauren and
Lexie. Both blonde. In the truest sense of the word, if you
catch my drift.
The entertainment - Kris, Lexie, Lauren, Stan
Turns out, they
were not only here for a family visit. And not just for a
photo shoot (Kris had contacted us earlier, offering to do our
photos). But also served as our
I’ve always wanted
photo of Hubby and me. Something a little nicer than the selfies we’ve taken
from the tops of mountains, dressed in layers and hiking boots.
planned to shoot at Shevlin Park. Fall colors. Tall evergreens.
Covered bridge. Aspen grove near a tumbling creek.
But Hubby was
feeling pretty punk. And so Kris quietly borrowed some pieces
scattered throughout our home and ingeniously set up outdoors.
All Hubby had to do was take a seat, and in ten
minutes we were finished. And you wouldn’t
know she was shooting on a sidewalk. On a busy side street.
guys even make living on the street look like fun.”
Hubby rarely smiles
usually just a cute grin.
remember the blonde great-niece—was
dancing beyond the photographer’s
back. Twirling like a ballerina, her long hair flying. She’s
the reason we were laughing.
this visit from family, these photos, a day’s
worth of entertainment. Thanks, Stan, Kris, Lauren and Lexie
Ready for some football
had a television in maybe six years. I think it
because our set quit working, and we didn’t
have time to watch TV, then they
came out with the new digital stuff, and well ... we just never
got around to getting another TV.
But while we were
in SunRiver last weekend, Hubby watched quite a bit of college
ball, and it seemed that he stayed awake more. So I talked him
into getting cable for football season.
I emailed some
friends who had offered once to loan us a spare television. Wondering if their offer was still good.
“This is going to sound awkward, but in
lieu of flowers, we’d
like to pay for the cable during football season.”
Hubby and I both
got a little misty-eyed over this incredibly thoughtful gesture. Instead of buying flowers after
Hubby’s gone, they
want to do something that would
bring enjoyment while he’s
received an unexpected check in the mail, so we bought
a flat-screen TV. The cable guy showed up last evening, and
Hubby is now in business.
Are you ready for
Kid in a candy store
Humor me one last birthdayversary post.
Before we left home
for this four-day weekend in the woods—which ends today,
package arrived in the mail.
Hubby wore the
cutest grin as he unwrapped the box. And then unwrapped the
individual items inside.
Kid in a
candy store. Literally.
Izze beverages. Champagne glasses. Mixed nuts. Playing cards.
Candy. Gum. DVDs. Microwave popcorn. A
make me happy”
sign. Green bills with instructions to go out to dinner ... or
The package came
from one of Hubby’s
nieces. Brittany. One of several beautiful young women who love
their uncle. Despite the fact that he teased them all
mercilessly as they were growing up. Or maybe because of it.
Notice the dark
green card with a white coffee cup in the foreground. It
mysteriously disappeared from the collection of gifts shortly
after the box was opened.
in a safe place.
You may remember
that Hubby insists on getting to eat whatever he wants on his
birthday. A break from my enforced healthful eating these
past ten years.
This year, he thought it would be fun to
barbecue burgers. Real burgers. Not turkey burgers.
I made oven fries, and cut up a salad and some
cantaloupe. And of course there was the infamous German
The problem with
all that? Hubby’s
been eating whatever he wants for the past couple months, so
breaking the rules isn’t
quite as exciting as it used to be.
enjoying our last full day at this vacation cabin. We just got back
from a bike ride. I let Hubby set the pace and go the distance he
wanted to go. From Harper’s Bridge
out to the marina. He probably rode
too far. But it was what he wanted to do.
Horses grazing along the trail. Purple
mountains majestic in the background.
River traffic with
just a hint of fall foliage.
A coyote on the
alert, sharing the field with a four-legged beauty.
When we got back to
Hubby took his second nap at the kitchen table. A
newly-discovered sleep position that relieves pressure off his
back and kidneys.
As I write
dozing on the
couch next to me. His third nap of the day. And it won’t
be his last.
homework with me this weekend. The hospice social worker handed
me a booklet on death and dying.
would be good to read,”
what it says
the normal sleeping pattern during the dying process is
virtually identical to the normal sleeping pattern of newborns:
off and on around the clock.”
sleeping pattern. To a tee. But he isn’t
anywhere near the place described in the booklet. His exhaustion
and drowsiness come from cancer-related pain and meds.
These frequent naps
because he only has weeks left to live. They’re
because he got out today and rode several miles on a bike.
still enjoying life and living it as full out as possible.
I love this time of
year. I love the colors, the cooler temperatures, new beginnings
as in school days and football season. I love Thanksgiving, the
promise of snow, and the thought of winter holidays just around the corner.
One more birthday,
one more shared anniversary. Priceless gifts, these. Because
suppose to live this long.
Happy first day of
autumn. Happy birthday. And happy anniversary, my love.
German Chocolate Cake
Summer and Oldest Granddaughter Lilly were visiting in June,
requested nagged, harassed, harangued the
girls to bake a German Chocolate Cake. (We’re talking daily
from-scratch GCC I baked was ten years ago. Pre-cancer days.
(Well actually, I experimented once with whole wheat pastry
flour and Fruit Sweet and a healthy butter substitute.
I can hear Hubby’s brothers now: You did
German Chocolate Cake?!)
And so, I brought
ingredients and round cake pans to this vacation rental. White
flour. White sugar. Real butter.
And ingredients for
homemade coconut pecan frosting. Because German Chocolate Cake
isn’t GCC without coconut pecan frosting.
Even though Hubby’s
birthday isn’t until tomorrow, I thought we should get started
early. Since it’s going to take us a while to eat the whole
So last evening,
while college football played itself out on the large screen, I
baked a German Chocolate Cake.
The only problem
was, we had eaten a late lunch (I brought plenty of food for the
weekend, but Hubby showed me a new recipe that looked good, so
guess who dropped what she was doing, made a trip to the local
grocer, and baked a Taco Casserole).
Which means we
weren’t hungry for dinner until about 8:00
last night. And neither of us
wanted to stay up until midnight to be hungry enough for cake.
Confession: One of
us may have had a piece of German Chocolate
Cake for breakfast.
quite make it to Alaska to celebrate our anniversary and Hubby’s
a long story that has to do with ureteral stents.
But we are
celebrating in SunRiver. Where we’ve
rented a vacation cabin with
sloping rooflines and wood-lined ceilings and nothing but trees
out the front wall of windows.
on the back deck
And where I stayed in pajamas until 10:38
this morning. First
sign that it was going to be a great day.
By late morning,
we were cycling near the river. Hubby leading the way. Taking us further
down the paved path than I thought he would. Hoo-ray for some energy
Just about your
perfect day. And it’s
not even over.
If Hubby can figure
out the three remotes and how they’re
related to each other, then we’ve
got Oregon Ducks to watch. If this cabin has access to the right
channel. If Hubby can figure out the remotes.
And this is only
the first day of a four-day weekend. Love long weekends with Hubby. In a cabin.
Under impossibly tall trees. With a river flowing nearby.
Hubby *liked* a recipe page, and now full-color food
pictures scroll across his Facebook page. Daily.
“Hmmm, that looks
good,” he’ll say, as he hits the print button,
where it travels wirelessly, where I pick it up
off the printer, shop and cook. All from the comfort of his
chair. He doesn’t have to move a muscle until he hears,
mushrooms. Broccoli Cheese Bites. Easy Cupcake Lasagna.
Scalloped Potato Gratin. These are the things that sound good to
And at this point
in the journey, anything that sounds good is fair game. Although
I did veto the Baked Cheddar Chicken because it called for
chicken rolled in crushed Cheese Puffs. Cheese Puffs? I don’t
Yesterday I made
Chicken Parmigiana. Chicken breasts pounded thin, slathered in
flour, dipped in egg, coated with panko bread crumbs, cooked two
minutes on both sides in hot olive oil, layered with pasta sauce
and mozzarella cheese, and then baked for seven minutes. Served over
Sometimes Hubby has
some pretty good ideas.
When we moved into
this tiny duplex, Hubby attached a rubber ball to a rope and
hung it from the garage ceiling. To mark the place where we
Even with the
hanging rubber ball,
greeting usually includes directing my landing into the
garage. Much like those guys on the tarmac with the oversized
headsets that motion the airplanes to their berths.
(Just in case I’m
not smart enough to stop when the windshield hits the rubber ball.)
Hubby hasn’t felt like directing much of anything. I hate to admit this, but I’ve missed his
Which brings us to
yesterday. Yesterday, wearing his cute, mischievous grin, Hubby
heard the garage door open and came to greet me, hand signals
guiding me to the berth.
And then he
helped me wrestle
a mattress and box springs out of the guest room to make room
for a hospital bed.
And then early this morning I hear the vacuum cleaner
vacuuming the guest room in preparation for the delivery of his
own hospital bed. What is wrong with this picture?
So I say, if he can
do my job of vacuuming, then I can do his job of trying out the
new hospital bed.
in with books, knitting and hot honeyed tea
My heart is full of gladness that Hubby has a bit more energy, and that
maybe an adjustable hospital bed will provide a better night’s
sleep for him.
That is, if he can
drag me out of my new favorite comfy spot.
One of my mothers
You already know I
have fabulous co-workers, particularly the three lovely young
women with whom I share an office.
Two of them—Jessica
and Alycia—found me in a less-traveled waiting area of
the hospital on Wednesday. Hubby was having an outpatient procedure.
The first thing
Jessica asked was,
“Did you eat today?” As if it’s
any of her business.
She went back to the hospital café and purchased a
protein-infused fruit smoothie. Mango.
One of three
mothers in my office. All around the age of my daughter.
Hubby and I are surrounded by so many incredible
people, and held by so many prayers.
For which we are exceedingly grateful. For the rest of our
Thoughts from a hospital waiting area
writing this from a darkened hospital pod, Hubby dozing nearby under a
warm blanket prepped for outpatient surgery.
I’m tired. And I
suppose I shouldn’t write when I’m tired. But there are thoughts
tumbling around in my head waiting to get organized.
Once upon a time,
Hubby and I were panel guests, along with a doctor,
administrator and social worker, at a hospice care conference. I
remember expressing my concern about knowing when hospice should
it be nice if palliative and hospice care were introduced as part of the overall
cancer team early on so the caregiver doesn’t have to make the decision about
when and if to call in reinforcements?”
As it turns out,
getting hospice involved was as simple as the oncologist’s referral.
to this point,”
he said to us on Tuesday,
the care has been focused on the patient. But who’s taking care
He pointed toward me.
“Hospice will help
take care of the caregiver,
My eyes teared up.
a good idea to get them involved early,”
he said. “Instead of waiting for a
I’m a planner by
nature. I want a general idea of where we’ll
spend Thanksgiving this year. And Christmas. I want to know if
wise to book an Alaskan cruise for our anniversary later this month.
quite a bit hospice can do for the terminal patient and his/her
family. Social work. Paperwork. Helping access at-home medical
supplies. Even assist with certain aspects of an Alaskan
involved doesn’t mean Hubby’s moving into Hospice House to die.
It means more members of a care team dedicated to Hubby’s health
And apparently to
my health and welfare. Which is a comforting thought. Because
all this is overwhelming at times. And I’m exhausted.
Thoughts from a
hospital waiting area.