Posts from June, 2011

Ann’s Diary: For Tess

I jokingly sent out an invite to a few friends to join me in celebrating my husband’s and my 14th wedding anniversary.  In the text I tongue-in-cheek described us as one of “a dying breed of couples who actually stay married.”

As I head to my niece’s wedding this week, I realize how un-funny my joke really is.  I know plenty of people in the throws of a failed marriage and let me tell you it’s the mosIt painful thing I’ve ever seen.

Keeping two people loving, committed, and focused on the same goal post of life in the 21st century seems to be nothing short of miraculous. Why I do not know –and I sure as hell am not going to try to figure it out here.

Hell, I’m not even sure what the definition of a happy home is these days–healthy kids? Paying the mortgage? Liking your partner? Or liking yourself with your partner?

I haven’t a clue–I just know that after 14 years, 2 children, 5 jobs and metastatic breast cancer, my husband and I still have a happy marriage.  I am holding onto that fact with clutched fists and a grateful heart. I feel so lucky I could cry.

But what about my niece?  What can I tell her?  What secrets-of-the-still-married can I give her to save her from the stomach-turning ride that is marriage, even at its best?

What can I tell her about a journey that I began when she was merely 16 and only just stepping onto her own romantic path of life. Nobody has the GPS to Happily-Ever-After.  At some point you just have to get in the car, grab the map, and hit the gas–together.

I guess it’s the ‘together’ part that I focus on in that last sentence: stay together.  Don’t let the children get in your way.  Don’t let the job get in your way.  Don’t let the bills, the tears, the anger, the way-we-did-it-when-I-grew-ups, the strains–all that bad stuff that sneaks its way in when you’re changing and growing as you age–don’t let it pull you away from each other.  And it will try, and it will keep trying–it’s the way it goes.  That’s life. Nobody means for it to happen.

In defense of marriage let me just say that when it’s good–when you’ve enjoyed the sunny days and weathered the storms and found your way to still holding hands on your 14th wedding anniversary, there is nothing–and I mean NOTHING–better than a good marriage.

But marriages change those of us in them–that’s not news.  I am not the same woman I was 14 years ago and I won’t be in 14 years–if I make it that long. Fighting metastatic breast cancer curbs my confidence in that kind of thing. But I plan to be here.  I plan to make it through cancer.

Maybe it’s the same with marriage. Plan to make it. I know nobody plans to not make it. (Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?  To un-love, horror, disappoint, anger, upset and otherwise piss off as long as you both stay married?)  I realize that. And if you’re someone going through or having had a divorce please know I am on your side.  I am so sorry you’re going through this.  And I am one lucky S-O-B who for some bizarre, ass-backward-into-clover reason isn’t facing your same fate.

But for those of you–my niece and her fiance included–who are about to embark on the wild, wonderful but uncertain marriage journey, here’s my happy-marriage advice:  plan to make it through. As obvious (and lame) as it sounds, that’s it.

And while you’re doing that, I’ll be over here beating breast cancer’s butt.

That way, if both of our plans come together, and I know they will, then I’ll have a long and healthy life …

and you’ll have a long and happy marriage.

Posted June 27th, 2011 by
Ann's Diary: For Tess
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Feminism In A Bottle

Recently I was yet again picking up after my family–this time it was lunch plates and milk glasses, when I got to thinking about the feminist movement.

Ever since they let the genie out of the feminist bottle in the 60’s, women have been officially allowed to follow their dreams.  Those dreams didn’t necessarily have to be domestic–as in “I can’t wait to be a wife and run a household”.  But yet they could be–if that was your desire.  What the feminism movement tried to do was release women from the expectation that all they could do was be a wife and run a house.  And 5 decades later, I think it worked.

We have women doctors, lawyers, astronauts, mechanics, dentists, doctors, principals, CEOs and financial advisors.  We also have women teachers, nurses, waitresses and others holding stereotypical “for women only” jobs–doing so (hopefully) because they chose them, not because they were the only ones offered to them.

So I thank Gloria Steinem and all her gal pals for releasing me and my daughter and my daughter’s daughter from the drudgery of post-suffragette but stay-in-the-kitchen syndrome.  But with all due respect, I have a bone to pick with whomever it is that is now running the modern feminist show. Because somehow, when the message was getting passed on that women can work outside the home for money, it didn’t get transferred to all spouses out there that women, working or not, don’t necessarily have to still be the ones who cook, clean and pick up after the slobs who live there.

Okay, maybe slobs is a little harsh.

But really–as part of the Steinem mantra, I sure wish someone had thrown in “and BTW, just because someone is born with ovaries and breasts (even it she loses them to breast cancer later on like I did) doesn’t mean she should–or even want to–pick up your old coffee, spilled juice, dishes from last night, dog hairs and opened but just-didn’t-happen-to-make-it-into-the-waste-basket discarded mail.”

I am a woman of the 21st century, which means I watch my kids AND I work from home. And my work–writing this blog–means I make minimal money for my talent–but I DO have talent. And that talent, while poorly represented on the W2 form each April, is not in the venue of cooking, cleaning or scrubbing toilets.  Yes I can do them, but no I do not like to do them.

I’m just guessing, but I’m going to assume that nobody puts “vacuum the carpet” in the Things I Want To Do When I Grow Up essay in 2nd grade.

But it must be done–if not, a house becomes a pigsty.  That I understand.

What I don’t understand is why, when that genie got smoked out of her feminism bottle all those years ago, she didn’t make sure she read the fine print on the contract.  If she had, she might have realized all that was to be expected of her–get a job (either at home or at an office,) have the children, AND still be the one who ends up cleaning up after the entire house.  Had that been the case, I’m sure she’d have rubbed the lamp next to her and wake up the “Get Off Your Butt And Clean Your Own Dishes” genie. Then women today would all go to work and come home to a clean house and folded laundry.

I’m not saying every home suffers from this syndrome, but if yours does, you are not alone.  Gloria Steinem’s work is over but if any one else wants to jump in and pick up the cause where she left off, I’d be grateful.

Til then, I will continue to fight the good fight at home.  Since I no longer own any bras to burn, I’ll just have to hope that via love, communication and good old friendly discipline I am able to create a new movement in my homestead that frees me from the clutches of pre-suffragette housekeeper.

But if you see me polishing the lamps in my house with unusual vigor in the days head, you’ll understand why.

Ann’s books ‘pink tips’ and ‘Words To Live By’ now available on Amazon.com.

Posted June 22nd, 2011
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Good News On Cancer Drug Zometa

There’s good news today about the drug Zometa:  it may actually help stop cancer from coming back.  This just came out on WebMD.  Check it out.

Posted June 21st, 2011 by
Good News On Cancer Drug Zometa
Posted in: Linda's Diary

Ann’s Diary: My Father The Hero

Usually today I think of my husband and my children. We’ve been married almost 14 years and let’s face it, this is his day.

But for 45 years, I’ve had a father of my own–one who won the Purple Heart in WWII and who ran his home like a bunker of sorts–tough love, tight ship, iron fisted but generous and hard working.  None of us kids lacked for anything that was important–a good home, good education, good dental work. The “I love yous” were in scarce supply of course but then again, it was implied.  After all, he took care of us.

Now in his “golden years” of life–my Dad will be 87 this year–he lives his days in a haze of dementia.  He doesn’t remember your name, or why he knows you–or whether or not he brushed his teeth.  He’s not quite sure why you’re bringing him to “daycare” (and don’t call it that–for goodness sakes) and he’s not altogether certain of what he’s doing when he gets there–

but he goes just the same.  It’s his job, it’s his duty.  After all, my mother said so. And that’s everything to him now, because after years of him being in charge of the house he now clings to mom for every instruction.

And my mother has been my father’s ROCK since this awful, angry diagnosis hit our family like a shower of bricks 4 or 5 years ago–at this point it doesn’t matter to us because it feels like forever.

But what amazes me most about my father, and what grabs me “right around the ankles” as he used to tease us–is that he’s hanging in there.  He’s doing his thing. Forget that his “thing” is clearly uncertain to him–he’s not sure what is for lunch, or how to even make it, or (20 minutes later) whether he actually ever ate lunch–

but he doesn’t complain.  He gets up,  he smiles hello. He kisses my mother with the love and honesty of a child and he tells her how beautiful she is with the consistency of a clock chiming the hour.  He greets each day with a “okay, what am I doing now?” attitude and he always has a smile and a “don’t you look good” commentary to anyone he meets. To me, soldier that he was, father that he is, he’s now my explicit, unequivocal hero.

My Dad may not be getting any more Purple Hearts for wounds sustained in battle these days–not like that time in ’44 when a whistler bomb exploded near the Med-A-Vac tent, blowing up dozens of wounded soldiers, several nurses and the doctor my father was just speaking to second earlier–miraculously leaving Captain Murray full of shrapnel but otherwise unharmed..

yet if it were up to me Dave would be getting the Golden Heart Award.  Because he’s fighting a battle with dementia that he can’t win. At least my metastatic breast cancer comes with medical and alternative choices I can make to beat it back. This blasted disease just keeps advancing with no hope of retreat.  And beyond the memory games, old music and photo albums that we ply my parents with, my father has zero chance of getting back the man he once was.

And he has every right to give up and quit.  I mean, come one–who wants to fight a battle they can’t win?

But that’s what Dad’s doing.  He’s in the fight, smiling hard, waking up to to each new day and moving forward with everything he’s got, everything he is–even as he loses more of that each day.

And if that’s not a hero, I don’t know what is.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.  I love you.

Ann’s books ‘pink tips’ and ‘Words To Live By’ now available in the SHOP section of this website.

Posted June 18th, 2011
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Old Friends, New Fun

The thing about life is we never know when it’s going to end.  As a metastatic breast cancer fighter, I know that too well.  But the truth is, you don’t need a doctor staring you in the face with a deadly diagnosis to make it real;  reality is that any of us could go any day.

Which makes what I did today all that much more important–I went with dear local friends to meet up with dear old friends who moved from our state and whom I haven’t seen in almost a year.  But when they lived near me they were a delight to be with, a couple I would rearrange my schedule to be with–and a duo whom I consider one of the funnest people I’ve ever met–

so we all got together tonight for dinner.

Now what I just stated took about 5 seconds to type–but in reality it took almost three weeks to plan:  we had to get calendars to jive, the weather to cooperate and last minute have-you-heard-froms to get in line.  And to add to the drama–at the last minute somebody’s child needed to be at a ballet rehearsal thingy.  When you have kids, that’s always the way.

But we all persevered:  we all wanted to join together, in varying manners of ‘want.’  Likely for some it was “oh, alright’, for others it might have been ‘this could be fun,’ and still for others it was “time’s a-wasting, let’s get this party started.’ I know which group I was in–can you guess?

And I’m here to type it was an absolute blast.  It was a great meal and great company—but much more importantly it was a moment of realizing and honoring who we were.  And who we are.  I mean, we were great friends until circumstances forced us apart.  But when we forced ourselves back together, the magic we shared was not only back, it was better than ever.

Regardless of my fabulous night, all I want to say is this:  if you have friends you love whom you don’t get to see much these days, whether they’ve moved or you’ve moved or your schedules just don’t jive any more–give them a call.  Say hello, catch up, say hi.  You never know–they could be thinking the exact same thing about you.

I don’t know why it seems so hard for us sometimes to make the effort to reconnect with old friends;  but I have news for you–if you get the chance to look back to an old friend, you may find that you’re laying the groundwork for a solid future friendship–

I know I am.

Ann’s books ‘pink tips’ and ‘Words To Live By’ now available in the SHOP section of this website.

Posted June 18th, 2011 by
Ann's Diary: Old Friends, New Fun
Posted in: Ann's Diary