On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Autobiographical writing: Lesson 1

"Good morning to you, good morning to you."  I hear Steve singing to the chickens as he unlatches their coop.  "Did you girls have a good night?"
I burrow under the covers, hoping to snag a few more minutes, listening to the house wake up - Steve's chicken shoes, for example, as he clunks across the deck through the sliding door. I know without seeing that he parks them on the mat and switches back to his slippers.  Those he scuffs along, old man style.
The ping of scattering kibble hits the metal bowls and Brix dives off the bed to maintain his Top Dog status.  Demi and Parisse already are hovering around the food box, but Brix is like me, he wants those last few moments.
"It's Thursday, time to check."  Now its Heather's turn.  I hear her mumble and unclench my fist.  She's still alive, no dramatic insulin low during the night.
A scrub jay squawks in the tree.  Time's up.  Feeling guilty for leaving so much of the care taking to Steve, I reach for my robe and hobble to the kitchen.
"I'm not very hungry," says Heather.  She says that every morning.  "You need the carbs," I say.  I say that every morning too.  "Cream of wheat or smoothie?"
Ninety minutes later I'm curled up on the sofa sipping my coffee and reading the P-D when Steve walks in with Brix and Demi.  "Were they good children?" I ask.  "They were very good."  That conversation is the same as well.
A crow responds to the jay.  Gosh, but they're noisy this morning.  I hear the announcement of the first laid egg of the morning.  Good girls, those chickens. 

Sometimes Steve gets frustrated.  "Our lives are so hemmed in by Heather and animals.  We can never go anywhere."  He's right, the care taking never ends, it's daily, repetitive and ongoing. It's a solvable problem, finding more backup.  It's also what keeps us alive, makes it necessary to fling off those covers in spite of ourselves.  Wrapped in sameness we mark our days by repeating sequences. Chickens want to fly out, dogs want food.  
"See the flower?  It's a pretty flower."  I glance over my newspaper to the scene out the front window.  A grandmother walks with her adult daughter.  The daughter is holding a baby.  They stand next my mail box and gaze into the open face of the first open sunflower.  "Flower," the mom says it again.  Teaching her child to talk, taking care of him as she walks with her own mother who took care of her.  They'll walk past a few more houses and see the roses a few yards down.  "See the pretty flowers?"  I know she'll say that, I don't have to hear.


  1. This sure hit a raw nerve. I was thinking yesterday that every weekend is the same for us out here in the countryside of Arizona. No people around, just my husband in his office and me in my room almost all day. I so long to be with family on weekends. Someday, but not this day is what I was thinking and it seems the sameness gets to others too. I tell myself we would want all our days to be different, that there is a peacefulness to the sameness but I am really hiding from the boredom I think. Ah yes, you hit a nerve here.

  2. I guess you've nailed the conflict - routine vs. variety - what's the perfect balance? Thanks for your comment, Timaree. - Barbara


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