As a way to welcome in 2015, I have decided to begin a blog about life and what it means to be truly living. To be alive in a way that feels exciting, overwhelming, heart thumping, and adrenalin pumping, or even just to feel content in your being. What it means to be so present in your life that you accept each piece of your life as if there is no other choice. This new blog is not due to a sudden resolution I have. As a matter of fact, I don’t typically ‘do’ resolutions. Not because I don’t believe in them, but because I make resolutions all the time, all year round, any time I feel I need to reset and start over.
Instead, I am driven to this blog due to my complete admiration of a woman I have known all my life who is the epitome of ‘truly living’. She is an amazing, beautiful woman, physically, emotionally and spiritually. She is a rare sample of a woman that barely complains, even when it seems there is plenty to complain about and does not wade in the drama that life seems to offer. She is a woman who didn’t lie down to rest when her chips were down, but stood up even straighter. She has endured a challenging life, like most of us, not missing out on divorce, single parenting, food stamps, and blended families. She is a woman who knows what it means to live.
From my first memories of her, I can recall her beautiful, long curly brown hair that was never out of place and her perfect face that appeared the moment she woke in the morning. She was a goddess of sorts, at least to me. Imperfectly perfect, I suppose, but that was not the way I saw her. In my eyes, she was just perfect. Simply perfect.
In retrospect, I see that she did not have an easy life, as she manhandled a job as a hostess with 2 years community college in her resume, 2 small children by her side and a life that was going to need some governmental support. But not for long. No, this beautiful woman was not raised to sit on the sidelines squeezing out some bitter lemons. No. This was a woman who would learn to put on her shoes filled with fear, dress herself just so and work her way up the ladder. The ladder, you know, that ladder of success? Yep, she was the one. At a time when cell phones didn’t exist, disappearing fathers did and no one had ever heard of full time working moms, she did it. Not only that, but she began at the bottom rung tediously selling hospital supplies by phone. As tough as it was, she waded through the muck and moved herself to the next rung. At the time, I did not realize what a superstar she was, I just knew I loved her and she could do no wrong.
Eventually she married her prince, teetered on a very high rung on the ladder and was known for many years as top national sales rep. From there, with the big beautiful house, handsome prince and 3 beautiful girls…it seemed her life was perfectly easy and blissful. But…things are not always as they seem. Or are they?
Actually, things were pretty perfect, married to a man who would quickly take on raising her children like his own and skip down the steps each morning, without fail, repeating the same mantra “Just another great day in paradise!” More signs of truly living…
Her life was never woe-is-me. Not out loud at least. Not that I ever heard anyway, but she sure had plenty of reason to wallow in how hard her life was and it wasn’t until more recently that I wondered why she didn’t. I mean, I have plenty of friends who have it much easier than she ever did and they wallow all the time. And I do mean, ALL of the time. Blaming their surroundings, their ex-spouses, their children, their parents, their bosses…but not this lady. She took on her life in a way that made everyone’s life around her, better. I don’t know exactly how or why, but she did it. Perhaps because she knew, even way back then that life was for the living and that if you were alive, then you should give your life some of the best living you could. That was what she did.
That is what she still does to this day, almost 50 years later. Not that she has only lived 50 years, but has only lived that long as my mom.
Some 14 months ago, my superhero mom was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic and liver cancer. Some may say it’s a death sentence of sorts, giving you different ranges of life somewhere between 3 months to a year, but not promising more. For our family, it was the shock of our lives. Literally. She didn’t smoke or drink, ate organic food, fruits, veggies, passed over sugars and processed foods and worked out daily. My mom having cancer was like finding out that it was snowing in California. I mean, yes, anything IS possible, but that didn’t mean it was going to happen. Or so we thought.
But this lady, this beautiful lady, now had a real challenge that trumped all others. Cancer. And while we rallied around, doing everything we could to not crumble, to find the glass half full, she got into action. What other choice did she have? After all, life was for the living and with each second that she could still think, know, feel and love, she was surely alive and was only a reminder that she was going test out this ‘living’ thing in a way that we had not seen before. She needed to. And we didn’t tell her, but much like the old days…we needed her to…