Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What a fine birthday

I started celebrating my birthday on Tuesday.  I had picked up two delicious cakes from Costco, one chocolate layer cake filled with chocolate mousse and the other vanilla layer cake filled with vanilla mousse.  Bob, my friend from work brought a pumpkin cheesecake bundt cake.  Everyone was happy.  There was also ice cream, but basically, it was just a chance for people at work to slip by and get cake, take a break for a few minutes from the daily grind and then slip back with plates filled with sweet sugary goodness.

The next day was the doctor visit.  I feel more and more comfortable with the fact that I may very well have cancer for the rest of my live.  The fact that I have cancer does not mean that my life will be less or shorter.  It simply means I will live with two incurable diseases.  The most important lesson to learn is not how to live with cancer.  No, it is about learning to live being more aware of each moment.  I have always been more of a big picture person.  Well, in the sense that I thought that by seeing the big picture and all the possibilities lay out in front of me that I could do it all.  I could be a member of the stage company, even be the chairman, and work on every play that we put on at the Opera House and then work on every fund raising event and be on the Board for the Opera House beside the stage company.  Then be the chairman of our little garden circle, and as active in the club as possible.  And be the manager of the certification section with the Department of Ag & Consumer Services.  And as my staff shrank from budget cuts, to work more and more with my staff to make sure that we keep up with our work so that the Applicators can do their work.  So now, I have my own work and the work to help my staff, and take care of my home and gardens and animals.  I went 24/7, seriously.  Go, go, go.  It started as a way to avoid coming home and spending anytime with my then husband.  I suppose it was hard on him, his drinking increased and he became addicted to crack.  Although I cannot say when that started because now as I look back I realize that he had been do that for years and years.  When I first moved here, it was just me and Maggie and Lily and my cats.  It was magical, beautiful, peaceful.  Then he came up and my life started to spin out of control, by my hand in a serious case of denial.  Then anytime after that if there was something I wanted to do, I crammed it into a schedule that was not healthy.  Sure, I ate well, I exercised, I drank in moderation, but I did not take time to really enjoy everything I was doing.  I did not take time to rest, but every 4 - 6 weeks or so I would stop for a weekend and stay in bed until I was able to pull myself out and off I would go again.  And even after he was finally off the property, I continued to run myself into the ground, burn the candle from both ends, go nonstop. 

And one day last April, Ms Moon gently touched me on the arm and said I was worrying her.  She was afraid I was going to come down with pneumonia, with pleurisy.  And as usual, she was more right then we could possibly understand.  And so turning this back around to my birthday, that gift of her touch on my arm is the greatest gift I could ever have asked for.  It slowed me down enough to catch the train I am on now.  And the reality that it is not how many experiences you have in this world.  But how much you enjoy each adventure, each experience, each journey. I know that I will never stop wanting to have adventures.  Shoot, I would still love to wing walk or at the very least get to ride in an open cockpit airplane.  I want to walk on Hadrian's Wall in Scotland with Vicki and stand on our property, side by side looking out to the castle and the river and the lovely old distinguished trees standing now as they did centuries ago for the druids.  

So back to Friday, my birthday, 55 years old.  I have never lied about my age.  I never needed to.  I looked years younger then my true age for the majority of my life.  I was seriously carded well into my mid to late 30s.  It was until I turned 50 and quit dying my hair that I went from looking 10 years younger then I was to looking 10 years older.  My face and skin, muscle tone and weight did not age me.  I worked hard to exercise, eat well, watch my weight, but now that my hair was more silver/white/gray then brown, the perception was that I was older.  It was shocking the first few times people spoke to me that way, but I realized it was the hair color, and I was happy to stop the 35 year habit of coloring my hair, drying it out, harshly disrespecting it.  I liked the color of my hair.  I had gotten a white streak, very Cruella deVille when I was 15.  I started coloring it then.  And for my 55th birthday I have no hair.  But I like myself.  I have the most amazing friends, dear sweet beloveds all over the planet, and many beyond this earth wherever they are.  My loved ones do not go away.  They stay in my heart, my eyes, the smiles on my face as I remember each person.  And my heart was overfilled with such love and kindness and sweet dear thoughts this year.

I had so many emails, phone calls and postings on my face book, cards and presents.  It has been such a wonderful birthday, just based on the number of people contacting me.  I appreciate every single person, each thought, each wish, each prayer. 

The party at Mary’s was perfect.  All of her kids, except Jason who was at work were there.  Owen definitely enjoyed my birthday way more then his own, and he kindly helped to unwrap presents and to ooh and ah along with me.  And the gifts were all so thoughtful from everyone.  And the presents have been coming for weeks.  I feel so special.  I feel so loved.  Most of my beloveds from the Stage Company were there, even if just for a moment, like Colin zooming in and out after attending a private violin concert.  We laughed and talked and ate.  Oh did we eat!  We had food from all over the world and delicious.  Mary made greens and pinto beans and cornbread.  There was shrimp salad, quiche, sandwiches and salad, a spicy pasta salad made by our Malaysian cook and Spicy garbanzos made by Geeta, Fred and Marcy brought a home made dark chocolate ice cream that went wonderfully with Mary’s amazing carrot cake, and smoked salmon, cheese, chips and dip, and the table creaked a little under the weight of the food.  And we ate and ate and drank and laughed and my heart was filled to overflowing to be in the presence of these dear beloved ones.

The party did not go late, I was home before 10.  Yesterday I met Bob in town and we spent the morning at the St. Marks Monarch Butterfly Festival.  The weather was perfect that time in the morning, cool a light breeze and the sky clear and blue.  We watched them tag the butterflies and how they check for diseases, etc.  We stopped and perused the booths, Bob bought me a red potterweed from the Lincoln High School plant nursery.  The man at the booth threw in a portulaca to boot.  I will have to over winter them in the greenhouse, but that is why I have a greenhouse.  We had such a lovely time.  He offered to take me on to the Stone Crab Festival, but I don’t like crowds and by the time we had done the walking with the butterfly festival I knew I had had enough time on my feet. 

I came home and watched movies and rested.  I feel so much better…..mentally, but physically I am still coping with the exhaustion.  My hands and feet are still numb and although I have a healthy appetite, eating still has not come back to normal.  But I am adjusting to a new reality, a reality of living with cancer.  Hopefully our new doctor will come up with some creative treatment and who knows what he will be able to do.  And it does not matter at this point.  I am strong, healthy and alive and plan to continue that journey.  I still don’t want to focus on the end of the journey.  I still want to remember each precious moment of this journey.  Not all of it is about health and cancer.  Sometimes it is about birthdays and life, friendships and good food, a little wine, a beer or two and a wonderful conversation.  Or just driving along with a good friend celebrating the amazing migration of tiny brightly colored winged creatures as they travel from the Midwest to Mexico.  Flutter wings passing through our lives.  And if we plant some milkweed, parsley, porterweeds and other favorites of our winged friends they just may stop by and flutter and feed through our gardens as they follow the path of their kind for generations. 

A wonderful birthday, a reminder that we are all here for such a short time, but it is up to us to make it spectacular.  The only way I know how to do that is by filling my life with pollen and flowers, but also with memories of times with friends and with those people that I love with all my heart.  


  1. Nice Kathleen. Glad that you had a great birthday. The Monarch festival sounds interesting.

  2. I am sitting here in this perfect little place in Roseland, reading this and I am tearing up.
    As always, you make me a better person, just by being you and in my life.
    I love you, Kathleen. I am so glad we have gotten to share some birthdays. SO glad. Let's share as many more as we can, each one as splendid as we can make them.

  3. Oh wonderful, what celebrations. You are so loved. You must love so well and fully.
    Happy Birthday Kathleen, happy new year.
    Here's to butterflies...

  4. This was beautiful. I'm glad you enjoyed your birthday.

  5. It was a great celebration and a world class feast in all ways!

    I didn't get a chance to tell you that I blessed your gift with sage. You may use it as a bracelet or and anklet or you may attach a charm to the end of it and clip it to something and they are also prayer beads. I'm really into the Pagan prayer bead thing... such a good reminder to stay present, yet unstructured, beautiful and no guilt!

    Love you darlin,

  6. PS I've been dodging butterflies with my car for what seems like months now. They are precious.

  7. How great to celebrate the migration of the butterflies on your birthday! May it be a beautiful butterfly year. x0 N2

  8. It sounds like you had a terrific birthday. I am so glad.

    I wish you many, MANY more!!