Saturday, April 10, 2010

Silence and Snot

Our Realtor called a little while ago, sounding subdued. She said, "I really hesitate to even articulate this offer because it's so low; however, part of my job is to pass on any offer that comes in."

She hesitated and then said, "The client made an offer of $130,000."

Yup. You did your math correctly. That's about $25,000 less than our price which we had already cut to a level lower than we can really afford. Talk about letting the air out of our balloon. I felt so sad and disappointed.

I doubt that a counter offer is in the works, because she's so extremely far out of the ball bark that even a counter offer would be horrendously low.

So. There you go.

In other news, we will tell our church family tomorrow about my upcoming surgery. I'm not really looking forward to that. On Wednesday night, we had our weekly staff meeting ; Steve asked if I wanted to share the news or if I wanted him to. I told Steve that I would do it. However, when the time came for me to say something, I teared up and couldn't get a word out. And as they all prayed for me and with me, I just sobbed.

As soon as we got out of staff meeting, I had to pull myself back together to teach my Wednesday night class. I dried my eyes, powdered my nose and at 7 pm, was up in front of my class. Although I didn't feel like I was at my best, at least I was holding it together.

At least I held it together until the end of the class when it was time to take prayer requests. After a few people had spoken up with their requests, I opened my mouth to start to give an explanation of what was coming in my life. I was fairly calm for all of about twenty seconds and then I was done for. Even before the tears took over, though, Steve had already gotten up from the front row to stand beside me.

I dribbled off into silence and snot (wouldn't that be a great country song?) and once again, he took over the unhappy task of giving our church family the news. The people in my class came up and gathered around me and prayed, and once again, I cried and cried.

And now we come to Sunday and our main church service where a brief announcement will need to be made. Since I seem to be completely incapable of talking about the subject without dissolving into sadness, Steve will be the one tell the congregation. I will be sitting safely on the second row beside Sarah, holding Kleenex with one hand and Sarah's hand with the other.

I never thought this kind of news would make me so so emotional so that I cry at the least provocation. Sometimes I even cry with no provocation at all. (I guess I'm just trying to stay in practice!)

Once again, I want to say thank you to all of you who have been so dear to us during these past days. (I can't say you're "near and dear" to us, because most of you are thousands of miles away.) But your words and prayers and comments have buoyed my spirits in ways I'll never be fully be able to express.

I've also gotten some wonderful cheery things in the mail, which I'll write about later.

For now, I just wanted you to know that the house is still unsold, and our housing future is still a little uncertain. Cancer surgery and a house crisis, all in the same week.

Are we having fun yet?

An Offer!

We just heard from our real estate agent. The lady who had narrowed her shopping down to our house and a fixer-upper got a wee bit nervous when she realized that there was a Realtor's Open House at our home today which brought in a lot of traffic.

And so (drum roll, please), she called and cancelled the appointment she had with the contractor to look at the other house and is in the real estate office right now putting together an offer.

Which is fabulous news!

Unless, of course, she decides that she really wants a ridiculous bargain and offers less than we can afford to accept. (We're already selling the house for $15,000 less than we paid for it five years ago and still have to get together a down payment for the new house.)

When she looked at the house for the first time 6 weeks ago, it was higher priced than it is now, so hopefully she will remember that little bit of information when she puts together the offer.

We're so excited! We should hear something for sure later today, or by Monday at the latest.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Soggy, Saggy Sedentariness

Okay. Here’s the thing.

Although no one has said anything, some of you may very well be wondering, “Is this going to turn into a cancer blog now? Is Becky going to write incessantly about mastectomies and crying and breast surgeons? Is she going to become a Cancer-Obsessed, Oblivious-to-the-Rest-of-the-World Blogger Type Person?”


Smithellaneous, in its usual format, will continue. There will be tales about Snowy, stories about the College Dude and Princess Groovy Chick, wacky missives about life at our house, recipes, photographs, humorous pieces, and a few vignettes that might even make you cry.

Yes, I am going to be writing more about cancer now than I have in the past. Because what I do at Smithellaneous is to write about what life is like at the moment—whatever that may be.

And right now it consists of the challenge of adjusting to cancer. That’s not so much fun. But I am not going to let it take over my life—or this blog. Although the next few weeks may indeed be a bit cancer centric, there will be plenty of other things to write about, too. Because life goes on. Cancer or no cancer.

For one thing, I realized just this morning that my one-year anniversary of starting this blog is Sunday, April 11. Can you believe I have written 424 posts during that time? Me neither.

I’ve tried to think of what might be a good way to celebrate the one year anniversary, and the only thing that came to mind is that it would be fun (for me, at least), if you would sign in over the next several days and just briefly mention one particular post over the year that you especially remember. Even if you don’t know the exact title, you could just give a brief description of it.

We writers are always (pathetically) eager to know if anything we’ve written has stuck in any ones’ minds, or if our sweated over, agonized upon choices of words just sail away in the breeze after they’re painstakingly committed to the page.

So if you could humor me and chime in on this anniversary project, it would mean a lot to my stressed little self.

And speaking of stress, one of the best stress busters that exists (apart from chocolate, of course), it to take a walk outside. Now I must confess that my natural inclination is not to put on my walking shoes and head for the great outdoors. No, my most natural inclination is to stay inside—near my computer, my comfy chair, and the soggy, saggy sedentariness that makes up my life. However, I have a husband who is my own personal “get up and walk” coach and he knows that most days, a walk is exactly what I need.

And so I allow him to drag me out the door, spluttering the whole way and muttering in toddler like tones, “But I don’t wanna.” (And I might even throw in a little foot stomp like a toddler would do, too.)

However, said husband doesn’t seem to think that “I don’t wanna” is a legitimate excuse for non-walking and so he asserts his husbandly authority and tells me to get my rear in gear. (Except he says it nicer than that.)

Thankfully, we live less than a block from the town’s walking/bike trail, which runs 8-miles, the whole length of the island.

When I was unceremoniously dragged outside for our most recent walk, I took the camera along to try and dilute my walking misery a tad.

Since Steve loves vehicles of all shapes, ages, and sizes, he thought he would pose for a picture in front of this interesting truck we saw along the way. (I was tempted to caption it, “Sarah’s First Car” but thought you might not believe me.)


Classic truck. Classic guy. (The guy has aged more gracefully than the truck.)


Here are a few lovely sights from along the Smith Trod Walking Path.


This driveway is especially interesting because it leads to Andy Griffith’s house. We walk by his house every day but so far, he hasn’t invited us in for a glass of tea. Which is a good thing. Since I hate tea.


IMG_3286 IMG_3265 IMG_3282

There now. Don’t you feel more relaxed and de-stressed, just looking at those lovely pictures? For the fullest effect, though, you need to set the computer in front of you and gaze at one of the pictures while walking in place.

Doesn’t that sound fun? (I didn’t think so.)

Well, I’m going to sign off for now and get on with the lovely day that is stretched out before me. Steve and Sarah are in Smithfield all day, doing the last of the last minute “house stuff.” That means I have 10-12 hours all to myself, which is lovely beyond measure. And to make life even better, it’s been raining all morning and for me at least, there are few things better in life than getting to stay inside (alone) on a rainy day. I have no doubt you can hear my “ahhhh” all the way from here.

And the best part about today? My wonderful spouse is not home to indulge in any husbandly haranguing about the need for me to take a walk.

I can be walk-less today! I can stay home! I can eat chocolate! I can fully and joyfully engage in soggy, saggy sedentariness.

Happy day.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Design

Well, the new design is finally up! (In case you didn't notice.)

There are one or two changes I'm still going to make, one of them being to have orange as the background, instead of the light taupe. The overall look just isn't quite bright enough for me. Plus, it will be a nice feel of continuity from the old design to this one.

But it's finally done! What a relief!

House Update 2

Our Realtor reported back to us on the lady who saw the house today. The agent actually didn't have to do any work at all, because the lady's daughter was just walking through the house saying, "Oh mom! I love this and I love that and isn't this feature great?" The daughter is already sold!

However, there is a house ten miles away that is 800 feet larger than ours, but much older and in need of a lot of renovation before it can be moved into. This woman is going to get a contractor to do an estimate as to how much money (and time) will need to be invested before it's habitable. I'm assuming if she isn't happy with that answer, our house will be her choice. We will have a final answer in a week.

House Update

There is a new post below this one, but I wanted to pass on some breaking news.

Yesterday, two people looked at our house. The first family loved the house, loved the price; however, they wanted a downstairs master bedroom.

The second family loved the house and then proceeded to offer $15,000 less than our already slashed-to-the-bone price. No can do.

But the exciting news? Today a woman is coming back to look at the house again, after having looked at it six weeks ago. She has narrowed her selection down to two homes: ours and another one a few miles away. She already has her financing arranged and doesn't have another house to sell before buying another one.

Maybe it will help her decision making process that our house has been marked down even more since the last time she saw it.

These pictures were emailed to us yesterday by our real estate agent so that we could see what she's been doing to try to move the house.

I took one look at the pictures and burst into tears. (I'm a bit weepy in general.) I just loved that house so much and feel like we're putting a "friend" up for sale. Sigh. As hard as it is, I just hope the friend sells soon. I'll keep you posted . . .

By the way, my new blog design should be put up today . . . or tomorrow at the latest. Finally!

One or Two. One or Two. What To Do? What To Do?

Doctors come in all varieties.

Smug. Personable. Cold. Compassionate. Irritating. Endearing.

Some you want to hug. Others you want to slap. And some of the most irritating ones can actually be some of the best doctors.

As I’ve told Steve over these past few weeks of meeting several new doctors, “I don’t need my doctor to be my new best friend. I just want him to be really good at what he does.”

But truthfully? When you’re going through something like breast cancer, deep down you really long for a doctor who is going to be full of warm fuzzies and remind you in some indefinable way of your beloved, dear, departed grandfather.

You don’t usually get that wish. But it would be nice.

I have two main doctors for this cancer journey. Dr. H. is my surgeon/oncologist. He comes highly recommended by women in our community, as well as by other hospitals in the state. He is brilliant, conscientious, experienced, and fairly personable. But he’s not big on warm fuzzies.

When we arrived for our third visit to get the results of the MRI, he shook our hands, welcomed us graciously, and then went to his computer to pull up the report. He gave the results to us, and then we talked for a few minutes about the pros and cons of the various treatment options.

When I finally (tearfully) realized that I was going to have to have a mastectomy after all, I felt the world shift a few inches on its axis; I felt a bit dizzy, a wee bit disoriented, a whole lot discombobulated.

I had gone in there thinking we were going to all sit in a circle, happily decide on the lumpectomy, chat nicely, sing a few verse of Kum Ba Yah, and then be on our way.

But suddenly the preferred option was gone. And the highly unpreferred option was staring me in the face. Unblinkingly.

As I struggled to get my wits about me and get used to the new reality that had blasted into my life, Dr. H. did something rather, um, annoying. He took out a little form, poised his pen over the paper, looked at me and said, “So, what will it be? One or two?”

Just like that.

Just like he was taking an order at a restaurant. No big deal. You wanta choose one or you wanta chose two?

I’m sure I must have gaped at him in utter and complete disbelief, because he immediately dropped the pen to the desk and said, “Um. Well. Of course, you’re going to want to give this decision some thought.”

Ya think!?

He instructed us to head on over to our plastic surgery appointment (an appointment I had made just in case, not really thinking I would need it) and then come back to his office after lunch to sign some papers.

We collected Sarah from the waiting room and headed out to the car. Since she was anxious about the MRI results, I briefly filled her in and then told her, as calmly as possible, that a mastectomy would be necessary. I held it all together for about three minutes, but as we pulled into traffic, I started to cry.

So much to take in. Such a big decision.

One or two. One or two. What to do? What to do? (As a songwriter, I always like for my crises to be couched in rhymes.)

We hadn’t been gone from the office more than five minutes when I suddenly proclaimed aloud, “I’m going to have a double!”

Steve stared at me in concerned amazement like, “You decided already?”

One or two? What to do? I just knew.

But now, fragile and teary-eyed, I still had to get through another appointment. With yet another doctor. To talk about even more unpleasant things.

Steve and I got ourselves settled into an exam room where he gallantly searched out a tissue box for my immediate use. A few minutes later, while I was still sniffling and blowing, Dr. F. breezed in. He was wearing a blue, surgical type outfit. With red Crocs. Topped by white socks with red trim on the top.

Since there were only two chairs in the room (already occupied by “Mrs. One or Two” and her hubby, too), he nimbly jumped up on the exam table, arranged himself into a lotus position and said, “Hi! So what questions do you have for me?"

I was still on the verge of tears and wasn’t sure if I could even trust my voice. But I managed to sputter out a few questions which Dr. F. answered, not only with impressive medical knowledge, but also with a fine sense of humor and a little (earthy) language thrown into the mix.

Now, while I am not a big fan of earthy language, I am a big fan of people who are just themselves, regardless of where they are, or what they’re doing. It’s refreshing to me. And Dr. F. made me laugh. If someone can make me laugh when I’m on the verge of being an emotional basket case, then they have already earned their fee. And then some.

We got on the subject of the drains that I will have to wear for a couple weeks after the surgery—two on each side. He said, “I won’t lie to you. The drains are a pain.” (Ahhh. I thought. A rhyming phrase.) “Most women hate them and can’t wait to get rid of them.”

He then went on to describe what they would look like, where they would be, and what their function would be. I replied dryly, “Wow. They really sound quite delightful.'”

He didn’t even miss a beat. He came right back and said “Oh yes! They are actually very festive!”

Well, something about applying the word “festive” to drains put in after a double mastectomy just struck Steve and I (the inveterate wordsmiths) as very, very funny.

And then suddenly all three of us were laughing like slightly unhinged hyenas. I’m sure anyone passing that room would have never guessed that its occupants were discussing a double mastectomy.

So is laughter really the best medicine?

Well, it won’t cure cancer. I do know that.

But it will cure a hurting heart. And it will help a traumatized pastor’s wife in North Carolina realize it’s not the end of the world, whether she chooses one, or whether she chooses two.

And you know what? During the upcoming surgery, neither of the surgeons present will be removing my funny bone. And they won’t be excising my appreciation for a well-chosen word. And they won’t even be able to find the parts of me that make me who I am.

So I feel like I’m getting off pretty lightly. Yes, I’m losing a couple things that are quite important to me. But in doing so, I’m going to survive. And I’m going to live a long, healthy life.

And whether I live that life with none, or one, or two—does it really matter in the long run?

Nope. Living is what matters. And if my life can be enlivened by some unexpected laughter along the way? I will know that I have lived well.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Emotionally Discombobulated

Well, it’s been an interesting morning.

I got up at 6 am feeling positively perky and perkily positive. However, a couple hours later, I was back in bed, crying under my pillow. And something tells me that this emotional roller coaster, these discombobulatory feelings as I enter uncharted waters, will be with me for a long time to come. It should make for some interesting blog writing. (And reading.)

As always, I was touched by your words of support in the comments area; I feel doubly, triply, quadrupally blessed to be a part of this Smithellaneous community, where strangers become friends, and where laughter and tears are equally at home.

And speaking of home (wasn’t that a smooth segue?) here is a bit more info concerning our alarming (and discombobulatory) house news.

When we signed the rent-to-own agreement almost six months ago, the agreement was that when the six months were over, we would have first dibs on buying the house. If we were not able to buy it, then it would be available for anyone else to buy. (The landlord is not interested in long term renting; he needs to sell the house as soon as possible and was actually quite generous to even allow us to rent for as long as we have.)

What we've just found is that the other person in the wings would be buying it for investment purposes; he wouldn’t even be living in it. And it does sound like he is also willing to rent it to us; however, there are two problems with that:

1. We would have to rent it for an entire year because some sort of capital gains tax keeps him from being able to re-sell before then. We really don’t want to rent for that long because not only is it money down the drain, we really want to own own home sooner than a year from now. It will help us feel a lot more "settled" here.

2. Also, the rent we’ve been paying for the past six months has been fairly reasonable in Manteo, which is a frightfully expensive housing market. Chances are that a new owner would kick the rent up to its “rightful” amount and it would be too much to afford.

The good news is, though, that we won’t be out on the street on April 30; we’ll just have to have a firm plan in place by then and decide if we’re buying or moving.

We lowered the price on our house in Smithfield yet again this week (sigh) and last night got a call from our realtor saying that THREE families are coming to see it in the next couple days. I tell ya, for what they’re paying for a house like that? I would snatch it up in an instant if I still lived in Smithfield! So we’ll see if--maybe, possibly, hopefully, miraculously—one of them might be the answer to our (getting more desperate by the moment) prayers.

Those of you who have commented on the housing situation (being indignant on our behalf, asking about fundraisers, offering concern and prayers, giving practical advice) have truly made my heart feel lighter. I’m amazed that you would invest your emotional energy into taking on our burdens--people you haven’t even met. Thank you so very much!

Last night, when Steve and I were feeling pretty weighed down by all the trauma, Sarah gave us a little something to smile about. She decided to grow a mustache! How can you be sad looking at a sight like that?


As I’ve been pondering yesterday’s events and the medical news we got, it occurred to me that it might have sounded a bit self contradictory when I wrote that my original intent was to opt for the lumpectomy/radiation and then later on, mentioned that my best option (because of my history) was a double mastectomy.

As I thought about my options during the week I was waiting for MRI results, my line of thinking was this: If the cancerous area was indeed as small as they originally thought, then I didn’t feel ready to take such a drastic step just to fight a small number of micro calcifications.

As I told Steve, “I’m going to have the lumpectomy now and then, if at any point down the road, there is even a hint of cancer in either breast, it will be a double mastectomy, no questions asked.”

I guess I was just wanting to offer “the girls” one more chance to behave! (Smile) But behave they didn’t.

And then, as if I didn’t have anything else to worry about, it hit me on the way home that whenever Sarah fills out any medical form, it will ask for a cancer history in her family. And she will check the box, “Mother.” I’ve always heard that if your mom or sister have had breast cancer (especially pre-menopausal) then it increases your own risks. And then I got all stressed out over that whole scenario!

I can do some stress!

Speaking of checking boxes, last week when I went to the plastic surgeon’s office for the first time, I had to fill out a medical history. I was breezily whizzing on through all of the boxes that I always check “no” on:

Diabetes-no. Heart disease-no. High blood pressure-no. Cancer- no.

Wait. Back up. Erase.


And then there was a whole new, freshly produced batch of tears, just from filling out a dumb form. Who knew tears could be hiding around such odd corners, just waiting to show themselves?

But you know what? There’s a wise saying somewhere in the universe that says, “For every tear that falls, a bite of chocolate should be eaten.” (Or maybe I just made that up.)

And to help me out on this important project of keeping the tears and chocolate ratio balanced, I received this in the mail from our friends, Jim and Ann Martin.


Just looking at that picture makes me feel better!


I received a couple emails asking for our mailing address. I hesitated about posting it here (security and all) but I figured if anyone knew our last name and town, they could look it up somewhere anyway. So, here it is. (Deranged ax murders, please disregard.)

Steve and Becky Smith

127 Raleigh Wood Dr.

Manteo, NC 27954


The question was asked in the comments section: Did Sarah's stick group do "Arise my Love" for Easter?

Yes, she did, and it was absolutely amazing. What a creative way to present a song! (And she absolutely loved doing it.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Good News. Bad News. Cancer News. Revisited.

After 8-hours of being on the road and going back and forth between doctor’s offices, we once again have good news and bad news.

Good news:

I don’t need chemo.

I don’t need radiation.

I don’t need any long term medications.

Not So Good News:

Although the area that is cancerous is contained (in other words, it doesn’t appear to have spread outside the milk duct where it started) it turns out that it is quite a bit larger than they first thought, extending into a “second quadrant.”  Since removing the entire cancerous area would be the equivalent of removing something the size of a man’s fist, the doctor said there would be very little tissue left over when he was done. And therefore a mastectomy on the left side is the only reasonable option.

I was going in there this morning with cheerful little thoughts that I would just opt for the lumpectomy/ radiation route if nothing unexpected showed up on the MRI.  To say that Steve and I were a bit taken aback and a little emotional would be an understatement.

After talking with the surgeon/oncologist for a while, and then going and spending some time with the plastic surgeon,  I have decided to go ahead and have a double mastectomy.  With my fifteen year history of biopsies, scans, scares, and false alarms (on both sides) I just figured I would get it all taken care of at the same time.

I’ve been pretty teary today, dealing with varying feelings of grief.  But I’m at peace with what I’ve decided.  Steve has been wonderfully supportive and loving and strong throughout  it all. (The surgery will be Friday, April 23.) 

As if we didn’t have stress enough, we just found out that our landlord has found a buyer for the house we’re renting. If we can’t buy it by April 30th, this other person is going to.  And we can’t buy this house unless we sell the house in Smithfield.

The thought of moving and having cancer surgery and recovery?  Not anything I want to think about very long.  It’s just all a bit too much.

Thanks for your prayers for us today; I felt comforted knowing we were being carried by the compassion and concern of our many friends who read this site.


More Nathan.

My handsome son, in rehearsal on Easter Sunday.


Packing his suitcase. Striking a pose.


Without “the pose.”


These are scenes to make a mama’s heart weep—a college son, packing his stuff to leave.



My two favorite kids at the airport.



And he’s gone. Sniff.


In other pictorial news, I mentioned yesterday that Sarah was in a dramatic musical number for Easter Sunday. Here she is with her cohorts.


We'll be gone today to get my MRI results. I’ll update again when we get home.

Scary day!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Cancer Road. Just Peach.

A couple days after getting my breast cancer diagnosis, I drove about two hours to attend a meeting for female ministers living in eastern North Carolina.

I was, of course, still a bit emotional and shell shocked from my news and, of course, I shared it with the other women who had gathered. Imagine my delight when one of the women said to me, “Well, I had that same diagnosis a year ago and I got my radiation done at a clinic on the Outer Banks. I highly recommend it; the facility and people were wonderful.”

Now you have to realize that just the day before, I had driven by that very clinic she mentioned and noticed that it offered radiation therapy. I thought to myself, “Well, that’s probably going to be the closest place for me to go, but who knows whether it’s any good or not?”’

What a timely turn of events to get up the very next morning and have my question answered! There’s nothing quite as reassuring as getting a recommendation from someone who has “been there, done that.”

I took a few pictures that morning because the place where we met was so quaint and beautiful. (Half of the building was set up for a wedding reception; the other half was the public eating area.) If you live near Plymouth, NC, be sure to check it out.

minister's wives brunch

Speaking of radiation and cancer treatment in general, I got a couple comments from people who were a bit surprised that I’d had my MRI done in a trailer.


Actually, every single MRI that Sarah has ever had at Duke was done in a trailer, similar to the one you see in the picture. So although it is probably a bit “alarming” if you’re not used to seeing it, we’re aware of a good number of hospitals/medical facilities that use these specially built/equipped trailers just for that purpose.

And as much as I appreciate MRI technology, if I never have to see another MRI machine as long as I live, I would be a very happy woman!

As for what the next stop is for us on the Cancer Road:

Tomorrow, Steve and I (accompanied by Sarah, since she’s out of school this week), will drive to Greenville yet again to get the results of the MRI. To me, this appointment is almost as scary as the actual diagnosis because we will be getting a much clearer picture of what we’re dealing with and what the treatment will consist of.

As I wrote earlier, around 20% of patients who are diagnosed with cancer that is “contained” are found (through an MRI) to have cancer in other areas of the breast(s) as well. So we’ll meet with the breast surgeon/oncologist first to hear the results and then (depending on what the results are and what treatment we’re leaning toward) we will go on to meet with the plastic surgeon afterwards.

Do I know how to have a good time, or what? Sigh.

Speaking of surgery, right this very minute Nathan’s girlfriend, Meagan is in the operating room having major surgery. Although I’m not completely clear on all the specifics, she has a condition having to do with the alignment of her jaw that, if not repaired, will cause major problems for her down the road. After the surgery, she will be in the hospital a couple days and when she gets home, she can only have liquids for 4-6 weeks. If you think about it, keep her in your prayers. Even though the surgery was not unexpected, it’s still a traumatic thing to have to go through.

Here’s one of my favorite shots of Meagan and Nathan.


In other news, we are getting perilously close to The Panic Button Pushing Point concerning the sale of our house. (We just thought we were near it before.) As I mentioned before, if we have a contract on our house by April 30, we will receive a $6500 rebate. Also, selling the house will free us from double house payments, double power bill payments, etc.

To make life even more interesting, it appears that 2 HVAC units in our rental home need replacing; it’s been 80 degrees here and our ac unit has been producing little or no cool air. Since we’re dealing with the complexity of renting with an option to buy, we don’t know what (if any) help will be given by owner to replace the (very expensive) units.

And as if we needed anything else to deal with? On the very day of my diagnosis, we got some other bad news that had to do with Sarah’s medical coverage and some other benefits we had been receiving.

So if you’re a praying person, we would appreciate prayers for us as we deal with the stress of this diagnosis and treatment, in addition to the financial complexities we’re working through.

In the meantime, I guess I will just have to get used to glistening. (Remember this point: Ladies glisten. We don’t sweat.) I will also have to get a fan out and gently cool myself like the lovely ladies in the Old South used to do on their front porches. While sipping mint tea. Which I don’t like. (Or maybe they sipped mint juleps? I don’t quite remember my Sipping History.)

Hmmm. I wonder if I can be a true Southerner and not like tea. Probably not.

In closing, I wanted to mention how much I enjoyed all your comments/stories about the Peach Angel story. (Scroll down to read.) It’s one of the things I love most about being a blogger—the interaction between my readers and me, and also the interaction between my readers and each other. So cool.

I also love the fact that your blog comments not only inspire and cheer me, they also make me think. A case in point would be this comment:

Becky, it's a great story. :-)

Could I gently ask a question? Why is race salient in this story? Just speaking as a family of color, I was struck by the need to tell us that he was African American. If he had been say, Caucasian, would you have told us that? Why not, just a man in peach? --Adria

Her comment was followed by a couple of thought-inducing responses:


I can't speak for Becky, but when reading a story such as hers, it helps me to visualize the story by such descriptions. It is the way we were taught to write in school here. Adjectives help describe the person. If her story were to become a movie, that would be an important part of casting the role.:) ---Jill

I agree with your comment about race, but I thought maybe it was a cultural thing.
I live in Canada, which places a huge emphasis (both in the courts and in schools) on multicultarism and on viewing all people as the same. Since about 1/6 Canadians are an ethnicity other than Caucasian, these "differences" are so common that a persons' skin color is not really thought of as relevant, if that makes any sense.

When I read the description, I thought maybe it was a common part of southern US culture to include a person's ethnicity in a description. (In a writing course I took a few years ago, I was told that in Canadian books an author should never mention a character's ethnicity since that would contradict Canadian norms. BUT if that same book were to be published in the US, that race descriptions should be included because Americans might consider race relevant.)

From Adria once again--

To anonymous person responding to my post, a few thoughts:

I would venture that people of color in Canada don't think their race is irrelevant, or that a multicultural approach does away with differences. In my thinking, multiculturalism holds to a strong view of cultural strengths and differences. It honors the differences, rather than obliterating them.

You could be right about a difference in the U.S. South. Hadn't thought about that.
I get weary sometimes when Caucasians seem to feel it necessary to tell a story that mentions a person's race when it isn't integral to the story. In other words, if I tell a story of Ruby Bridges, her race would be salient. If I tell a story about Michelle Kwan's phenomenal ice-skating abilities, it may not be. If I tell a story of Michelle's family's history, it would fit.

To tell a story of a man who was helpful, as Becky does here, the racial aspect doesn't seem integral to the story at all. If Becky were black and then said, another brother was there to help, that might be different.

I don't know. I just know as a family of color, these things are important to me. --Adria

See what I mean about great interaction? (And I especially appreciate the mood of respect and courtesy present in each of these responses; you guys are wonderful!)

I’ll just briefly add my two cents to the dialogue:

When I was writing the story, I hesitated before using the “African American” description, simply because I realized that its use might be questioned.

However, just a few days previously I had been reading Newsweek magazine and it featured the story of a recently deceased photographer who had covered the Civil Rights movement. The magazine published a few of his better known photos and as I looked at pictures of attack dogs being let loose on peaceful demonstrators, and as I saw pictures of Martin Luther King being dragged into a police station with his wife looking on, I got mad all over again about the abysmal way our country has treated the African American people.

And so when I had that encounter with The Peach Angel I thought, “Maybe I can do a teensy little bit of good here and tell a story that so beautifully illustrates courtesy and kindness between two races.

That was my motivation. No more. No less.

As a couple of you so graciously pointed out, it’s a shame we even have to have race and color delineations. Which is why I guess the best name for the man in my story truly was, “The Peach Angel.”

Not American Indian. Not Asian. Not African American. Not Caucasian.

Not red. Not yellow. Not black. Not white.

Just peach.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Nathan. In Brief.

It's been such a special weekend having Nathan at home. I’ll write more about his visit in a day or two.

Today has been a bit busy: I’ve been awake since 4 am, was at the church almost five hours for prep, rehearsal and service, and then I spent five hours getting Nathan to the airport. (And getting lost in Norfolk in the process. Which accounted for the five-hour trip instead of a “mere” four-hour round trip.)

Although I have bookoodles of things to write about about, and plenty of your comments to comment upon, for now I am just going to post a couple pictures of my favorite College Dude before I go and put on my pajamas.

Even though it's only 6:58 pm I figure that anyone who has been awake for fifteen hours has a legal right to don their pajamas. I’m pretty sure it’s in the Constitution somewhere.

But before the pajamas—we have pictures!

Can’t you see the devoted look of maternal adoration?


Even though he refuses to stop goofing off long enough for the picture.


Finally! I got him pointed the right way.



Leaving him at the airport. Sniff.


More tomorrow . . .