“Take pride in your pain…”

take pride in your pain

My daughter is a reader.  She eats books up.  One after another.  I have pleaded with her to use the kindle, just to avoid the sheer volume of books in the house.  I lack the responsibility to be a good library patron, as my brain can’t remember even one more thing.  So the books build up.  There are gift cards, and sales.  And I never say no to a book.  Ever.

Her early childhood teachers nourished a love, no a passion for reading.  They gave her the skills to decode, to comprehend, and to find her genre of choice, and her escape.  She has needed that escape so often through the years that I find myself grateful for how easily the reading comes to her, and forever grateful to those precious teachers who likely have no idea how deeply they have impacted our existence.

This was a weekend full of homework.  It was a culmination of a month that began with being pulled from class for play practice, and continued through her surgery on May 6th, and seven days absent.  There are 4 honors classes to maintain, and for a perfectionist at heart, striving to get it all done has been nothing short of horrendous.  All the classwork, all the homework, all the projects, every last bit of it to be made up.

be soft

And I understand, to some degree, why nothing was forgiven.  Why she had to do it all.  I have sat in the seat of the teacher for 19 years and the reality is absent or not, sick or not, they are responsible for the curriculum.  That didn’t stop me from questioning the VOLUME of work and how it differed drastically from unbelievable to totally reasonable.  And it didn’t stop the stress and bitterness of the last few weeks from taking a toll on both of us.

I hate having to be the “heavy” all the time.  But, I was the one who had to put the books in her hand days post-op.  Still working the anesthesia and narcotic pain relievers out of her system, it was time to get started.  Knee elevated and iced, we talked through one subject after another.

Normally she manages all her schoolwork alone, and does it quite well at that, but this month I needed to stay with her.  Make sure all the pieces were getting put back in place.  Junior high is a step closer to the “real world” I guess, and while there was some awareness of her absence, life marched right on.

She hopped in and tried to catch up at school.  She spent the entire week there, despite my knowing by Friday she probably should have been home.  Friday night the fears were confirmed, as the classic sore throat began.  Honey syrup lasted through the night until the pediatrician was able to declare an ear infection, and likely strep throat.  She was cultured.  The script was filled, and even as she took dose number one, the books were open.

She worked in my office this weekend, so I could oversee.  Laptops side by side.  Lots of togetherness.  But, one subject at a time, it got done.  The notes were put into notebooks, packets were completed, homeworks were stapled together.  A science book was created and a newspaper for English class too.

And slowly as the last staple went into the last assignment, a smile crept over the corners of her lips.  Her throat felt just so much better, and there was this notion that the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders.  There may be more to do this week.  The year is not over quite yet.  But finally, she is all caught up.


So she retreated to her favorite spot on the couch today, alternating between reading, and watching a series on Netflix.  She brought me her book, “Gathering Blue” by Lois Lowry.  “Hey Mom, listen to this…“Take pride in your pain,” her mother had always told her, “You are stronger than those who have none.”

She offered me a free hug and a smile.  Then she was gone, back to her day of much-needed peace, healing and rest.

But, the depth of her quote resonated with me.  Not only in amazement that she is able to extract such meaning from the context she reads, but also in the context of today, Memorial Day 2015.

When I started writing this blog it was all about therapy for me.  It was all about our journey, and what we were going through.  And still, so much of my day, so much of our lives, are consumed by Cowden’s Syndrome, its ravages and its effects, that leaving it out of my writing would be impossible.  For while it does not, nor will it ever, own us, or rule us, it had shaped us as we grow through this disease together.

Along this journey we have learned so many lessons.  We have learned to have a keener eye to the suffering of others.  We have embraced the reality that “everyone has something,” and we have a deep appreciation for the many blessings we have.

I spoke several times today with one of my Dad’s Marines, “Uncle Alan.”  I learned about lowering the flag to half mast till noon to remember the fallen, and then raising it to honor the living.  I learned about some more Marines, and for a short time I was able to provide an ear for someone whose grief on Memorial Day bears more than general images, but actual names and faces.  He speaks with such grace, such poise, and such a deep connection to his “brothers.”  I can not help but admire him, even as we have yet to meet.

I put together this picture last night.  All four of the veterans I love so dearly, only one of whom is still with us here on earth.  My Pop, pictured with my Grandma, almost 70 years ago in the top left.  At 95 his wit, compassion, faith, and humor still inspire me.


I took some long walks today.  I had a few long talks, with God, and with my Dad, and some others gone too soon.  I embraced the beauty around me.  I gathered my inner strength to handle whatever life has waiting in the wings.

“Take pride in your pain.  You are stronger than those who have none.”

Remember THAT.  Always.

blessed not stressed

Freedom IS NOT Free!

This Memorial Day, re-blogging my own sentiments from Veteran’s Day last fall. This Memorial Day I remember 2 grandfathers, and my father. All veterans who are forever with us in spirit. Their sacrifices never forgotten.


When I taught Social Studies I most enjoyed the curriculum that allowed me to teach about the United States.  It made me sad on Friday to overhear conversations about this upcoming weekend, and never once feel there was an understanding of Veteran’s Day.  When I was a fifth grade teacher the children wrote about their “Rights and Responsibilities” as American citizens.  That was a long time ago.

I was raised to answer the question, “Where are you from?”  with, “The United States.”  Growing up, that aggravated more than one person who was looking to learn where my ancestors had traveled from to arrive in America.

Precise language.  They learned to ask the question they wanted to know the answer to, or not to ask.

veterans day 4

I am the proud daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, and the grateful granddaughter to 3 WWII veterans.  Although 2 of my grandfathers are no…

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Silicone sweats!

Silicone sweats.

AND I have to find a bathing suit.

That was what I realized yesterday.

In the midst of Memorial Day celebrations, and honoring our veterans, I was somewhat consumed by the those thoughts.  I have to admit.

Silicone sweats.

AND I have to find a bathing suit.

I know the mercury was at about 90 degrees in New York.  We opened the pool so my daughter could swim.  Usually I would be right there with her, but that is a no-no on my hysterectomy recovery list.

My bathing beauty taking a swim in the Disney hotel pool. She LOVES to swim.

She is plenty tall enough to swim alone.  So I watched her from the deck, and I sweated.  It wasn’t my normal sweat either.  The sweat was actually pooling through the skin around my silicone implants. I don’t think it was a hot flash.  “The new girls” were the only thing hot.  But boy oh boy do I need a few more bras to get through the summer!

I could check the internet for some mastectomy recovery site.  I could ask if that is normal, but there really is no need.  Normal or not – in this body silicone sweats.  Plus, by that time I was too consumed with my other reality.


Now, I haven’t gotten the all clear to swim yet, but even if it is another week or two, it will come.  Then what?  My old suits are now from about 15 pounds ago, and my boobs are a full size smaller than they were last May!

When I refused the tissue expanders as we were laying out my mastectomy in March, I knew I would end up with smaller boobs.  I wasn’t even worried about going from a b/c cup to an a/b.  It seemed to match my recent weight loss.  But I never expected the impact this would have on my shirts!  I have had to replace almost every top in my closet for some reason or another.  I bought great bras (although with the sweat factor, clearly not enough) but they couldn’t help the shirts.  My T shirts had to be sized down, and many of my “fancier” shirts had to be removed.  It was a pain, but I finally got a working spring closet that I can live with – for now.

Of course a bathing suit is a whole other situation.  My implants are rounder, perkier, and smaller than my other boobs.  They are also a bit uneven, (courtesy of the 7 biopsies I had on the right prior to the surgery.)  You can see my ribs under my arms – there isn’t any breast tissue there any more.  I used to just buy my suits in Costco.  Yep, Speedo right off the rack.  There was no way I was putting this body into anything fancy.  But now what do I do?

Mom will have some advice on this one.  Her mastectomy was 15 years ago, but with no permanent implants, she has to find bathing suits to hold her prosthesis.  And, she always looks well put together.

Silicone sweats, so I definitely need a bathing suit before we get too far into summer.  And this hysterectomy recovery CAN’T go on forever!

I think I’ll call Mom!