A True Love Story

One of my very good friends told me the other day that my mom and step-dad’s story was one of her favorite love stories. We lost my step-dad last week, he had been battling cancer for quite a while and in the end, it took him in just a couple of weeks. While I will always miss him, I am glad that he is no longer suffering and will always remember that he was in our lives because “it was all my fault” (I’ll explain that in the story).

My mom and step dad (his name is Guy) met in High school, they dated and were actually engaged. He was a year older and graduated before mom. He joined the Air Force after graduation and my grandparents thought it would be better for my mom if they broke it off and that she move on, they didn’t want her to have the lonely life of a military wife. She had listened to her parents but had always regretted it.

For years she looked for Guy at reunions, asking everyone there if they had heard from him or knew where he was. No one knew where he was or what had become of him.

Fast forward to years later, mom had me and my brother, she had married and divorced twice. She had lost a fiance to a blood clot (he died quickly and suddenly) and was living in FL with a man that I really, really didn’t like. Actually let me revise that, it’s not that I didn’t like him, it’s that I didn’t like the way that he treated my mom and I didn’t think he was good for her.  I knew that in order to get this parasite (yeah, he kind of was a parasite) away from my mom that I needed to find the love of her life.

I made it my mission to find Guy. And I did, I found him on I paid for a temporary membership so that I could send him an e-mail and asked him to contact my mom. Now Guy was not technologically inclined, actually that’s an understatement. So he did not check his e-mail for a while. I think he got the message a couple of months after I sent it. Then he was scared, he thought mom was trying to reach him to tell him that I was his daughter, lol. He had no idea how old I was and was a little nervous about calling her. He finally did and was relieved to find out that it wasn’t to tell him that he had a daughter.

They talked repeatedly over the next couple of months. Guy had retired from the Air Force by then and was working as a trucker. The next time that he got a delivery to bring to FL he made sure that he and mom met up. The spark, the chemistry, whatever you would like to call it was still there. The love they had never died over those years.

They spent the next year with long conversations and visits when they could. Guy moved mom to TN and less than 9 months later they were married. They had the fairy tale wedding that they both wanted. Big dress, tux with tails, little chapel in the mountains of TN and a reception at the top of a mountain in a beautiful cabin. It was a small wedding, only our family and a few of mom’s siblings, a couple of nieces and a couple of in-laws, but it was what they wanted. And you could tell by the look in their eyes how much they loved each other. He was her world and she was his.

I remember in the days after the wedding Guy looking at mom while he was driving and him saying that he’s still amazed that she was there and now his wife. Of course my only thought at the time was “take your damn eyes off my mom and watch the rode before you kill us all” lol.

I am very thankful for the years that we had Guy in our lives. He would repeatedly tell me all the time (usually when I’d get annoyed at him for something) that “it was all your fault” meaning mine, because I had found him. He thought of me as his daughter, my brother as his son and my daughter as his granddaughter.

I will miss this man forever, he brought our family together, he brought joy to my mom. And though you could never watch a movie all the way through with him (he had to do a running commentary through the whole thing), and he loved to goad you into an argument (he loved to see how much he could wind me up), it was all part of the wonderful person that he was. I couldn’t have asked for a better match for my mom and a second dad.


Time to Slow the heck down!

I found this on Google when I typed in Slow Down, I think it’s fitting for me.

Since my lovely daughter has left for TN, I have been moving at warp speed. I am working my regular job plus a second job (that’s strictly volunteer) and school. To say that I’ve been burning the candle at both ends is an understatement.

So it’s time that I slow the heck down and take time to smell the roses, or another flowers for that matter. I fly out in two days to spend 10 days with my mom and daughter and I’m going to use that time to try and re-group and re-think how I tackle work, projects and just everything.

October 12th is my 19 year anniversary of being in remission, it’s only fitting that I be with mom and Tiff during this time and that I start to remember that life isn’t worth living if you don’t actually live it.

My volunteer job is what I actually love doing, I’m designing, contributing, brainstorming and working with an amazing group of people. Their love and support during the last few months has been what’s kept me going. I can’t stop being part of that, it’s become such an important part of my life. It’s helped me to grow and learn things about myself that I needed to learn.

School is important too, it’s teaching me the information that I need to know to help at my volunteer job. Becoming a Graphic Designer isn’t just a dream anymore, it’s becoming a reality. And while it’s not necessary that I get that piece of paper that says I have a degree, it’s really important that I see this through.

So I think it comes down to that I need to be find a way to manage my projects and school work more efficiently so that I can have some semblance of a life outside of these things. I need to find time for me. I need to be able to go back to the gym again, to spend time with my brother (who I have been neglecting, not that he’s not busy too, but I feel like I’ve been neglecting him), to spend time with friends and to have some down time too.

So while my life is about to get a heck of a lot crazier with multiple projects, I’m going to do my best to slow down and enjoy life, moments and people. I hope that everyone else does the same. Life is simply too short not to find joy!

Today’s a New Day

The past week and a half has been crazy insane. My mom and step dad were here visiting and helping prepare for my daughter’s graduation and move. Thank goodness I had the sense to take the whole week off from work and even tacked on an extra day. We were out straight the whole week. I feel like I need a vacation to recover from my vacation.

But I digress, Tiffany turned 19 on Saturday, she graduated on Sunday and she left yesterday morning at 3am to move to TN with my mom and step dad. I kept myself together as much as I could last week. I held the tears in. I didn’t let Tiff see me cry. Not till the end, just before she left. I couldn’t control them anymore.

My brother is amazing. He’s helped keep me together through all this. I do not know what I’d do without him.

So my baby is in TN and I have an empty room in my apartment. The first thing one of my friend’s said to me, is what are you going to do with the room, you can’t leave it empty. (Well actually, it’s not completely empty, her bed is there and a dresser, but everything else is gone). So I’ve decided that I’m going to re-purpose the room. I’ll make her bed into a day bed, I’m going to move my desk in there so that I can use it as an office area and I’m going to get some big pillows and set up a yoga/meditation area too.Big plans for a small space, but I think I can make it work.

Besides that, I’ve still got school work, I’m helping a friend out with a bunch of graphic design projects, I’m looking to start going to Yoga classes and finally getting back into the gym. So I’m keeping busy and keeping telling myself that this is a great move for her. I know it really is. I’m so proud of her for taking this plunge. I know she can do great things, she has only to try and she will find that she will.

So Today’s a new day, an empty nester I am. It’s not the end, it’s a beginning, let’s see where that road leads me…….

Side Effects – oh fun

So I beat cancer. I kicked it’s butt and survived. I get to see my baby grow up, get to live and enjoy life. But wait a minute, what’s that… side effects from chemo??? No, not going to happen to me, I’ll be fine. Menopause early? Yeah I can deal with that. Yeah, Menopause started at 28 for me. I knew that I was going to go through it early, but I figured, well typically women go through it in their late 40’s or 50’s, so I’ll go through it in my late 30’s. I was wrong.

Started with little things, like a hot flash here, a night sweat there. Then my monthly visits from my “friend” came further and further apart. (Why anyone would every call menstruation a friend is beyond me, it was horrible). Then one day it was like WHAM, a switch flipped. I went from fine to mega bitch in 0.23 seconds. The mood swings were crazy.

Ok, time line check, this was my late 20’s, heading towards my early 30’s and Tiffany was right around 10-11  age range. I love my daughter with all of my heart, but she is a drama queen. Now she admits it openly. Back then she was just getting her drama on, in a big way. I might also add here that I was a single parent at this point too, working full time to support us.

So I was in full blown menopause and Tiff was in pre-teen bitchy phase, I’d come home from work at night and I would do my best on the bad days to just stay away (well as away as you can get in a small 2 bedroom apartment) from her, I knew if I interacted with her too much, I’d jump down her throat and no matter what she did, she really didn’t deserve my “pause rage.”  Do you think that she’d sense that I was staying away or hidden for a reason, no, of course not. She would do her best to push all my buttons.

How we both survived that time without people banging on our apartment door from our screaming matches, I still will never know.  But we did make it through, and I have to say that post menopause is a wonderful thing. I still run on the warm side, before, I was always cold, now I’m usually always warm. I still have an occasional night sweat. But thankfully, I no longer have the dreaded mood swings and Tiff had survived to the end of her teen years.

Unfortunately, I have to say that early menopause was not the only side effect that I ended up with. I am also prone to blood clots. Back in 2002 I landed my butt in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism( blood clot in the lung). They caught it early but I did end up having to take blood thinners for the next year and have week visits to my friends the vampires (or lab techs) for blood to be drawn.

I wish that I could say that the side effects stopped there, but they didn’t. A couple of years later, at Thanksgiving time, I started having trouble breathing. I actually let it go on longer than I should have. I let it go one for about a week. I actually had a doctor’s appointment to be looked at, but Tiff had gotten sick and there were no openings for her to be seen (we go to the same GP), so good mom that I am, I gave up my appointment for her to be seen. That was the day before Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving, I got up and I was getting pains in my chest. At this point I know my butt is going into the hospital for more than just a day or 2. I call my brother to come get me (great brother that he is), I take a long hot shower while I wait for him (I know it will be my last shower for a couple of days, I want to be clean) and into the ER I go.

Between the chemo ravaging my body to kill the cancer and the tumor trying to strangle my heart and lungs, it left scar tissue on y heart and weakened it. My heart had become enlarged and the sack around it was filled with fluid. My heart was drowning. So they keep me in the hospital, put me on 3 different meds, 2 to bring my already low blood pressure down even lower so that my heart doesn’t have to beat as hard and 1 to help rid my body of fluids.

I have Congestive Heart Failure, I take 3 meds a day and I had to maintain a very low sodium diet. That was what my wonderful cardiologist informed me (which by the way, he is wonderful, down to earth, just overall awesome). So I got a week in the hospital, I needed a vacation from work anyways, right?

All things considered, I wasn’t supposed to make it past 19. The grim reaper was knocking on my door hard and was turned away (I think my mom scared him away actually), so I’ve had side effects. I’m still here, I still get to spend time with my loved ones. I get to spend time with my friends, both old ones and my new ones. So I don’t regret any of my experiences, they have made me the strong, independent woman that I am today.