Thursday, August 30, 2012

The perfect gift

I'm searching my mind for a gift I can get Steve for our anniversary. It unfortunately hits next week during our long day at chemo. My mind is blank. I want it to be special. What if it's our last?

There were many tears of joy at our wedding. First a young man started crying, then I started crying because he was crying, then people attending were crying. Women were riffling in their purses for tissues to pass around. It was all very touching.

We'd been together 3 years by the time we married. And so happy. Everyone who saw us knew we'd end up marrying but who would have thought this would happen?

If I had a wish, I'd wish I could go in now and wake him up from this terrible dream. I'd take him his coffee and he could complain about the construction on John Deere Road. I'd tell him on my way out that his lunch was on the counter and it was his turn to pick up milk on the way home...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I'm angry

I'm angry today. I'm angry that this exotic plant I've had forever is dying. I want to throw it but then I'd have to clean it up. So I leave it sit there because it reminds me of how I feel inside. Little by little the green turning to brown. I hate that plant.

I'm angry at these ground squirrels that dig in my pots. I want to borrow the riffle from whomever wins it and shoot the things. First I'm going to shoot my plant.

I'm angry that I come home after a trying day at work and all the lights are on and he's been fishing all day. I'm especially angry that I can't say anything about it. I want to say to call me when you go so I can come home and turn lights off and then go back to work.

I'm angry at the construction on John Deere Road. Why can't people just form two lines and merge? Why? Did we forget everything we learned in kindergarten?

I'm very angry because I can't sleep and I have this headache and my doctor left his practice so I can't call to get something and all I do is cry. Why can't I have a bunion or a flat tire instead? I want to go to the library and find a book I used to read to the boys called Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I don't remember how it ends but somehow think it may help me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Thanks to you all

I am so appreciative of the classmates that came to support Steve. It was great watching you all catch up with each other.

Several of my coworkers at Heritage Church where I work and we attend came. I've come to rely on your praying for us.

I have 20 volunteers that work in the Administration office and after all that volunteering they still found time to come and support us.

Steve's vendors, customers and employees (past and present)coming meant so much to him.

Our neighbors (past and present) and dear friends, our family that drove or were flown, I can't believe how far you came. Several people who were not able to make it mailed or gave us cards and checks. Thank you to you all.

So many of you said to let you know if we ever need anything. Right now things are okay but I don't know if they will always be okay, so I may call. Sometimes it would be nice to just have coffee and hear about you and your life. It scares me to put my toe over that line called future and think too much, much less talk about it.

I worried that after all that hard work Becky and Kris put into this that maybe no one would show up. But you surprised us all. You bought every bakery item there was and bid way too high for a pie. You bought golf clubs to be auctioned or donated a basket. You gave time to sit behind a table. I hate being in need but feel so full of amazement at your generosity. I'm humbled and don't know how things are going to work out but I know one thing for sure...we won't be alone.

The benefit

I can't describe how loved we felt from those who came to the benefit. We were hugged and loved on by so many friends and family. Some came from far away and some we had just lost touch with. We are still shaking our heads in amazement. Steve asked me on the way home, "What just happened in there"?

We have so many to thank for their hard work at putting this together. My sister Becky and dear friend Kris were relentless in making sure there were plenty of baskets, auction items and baked goods. Now they move on to a huge benefit yard sale happening the 6th, 7th and 8th of September. All this for us. I don't know how to show my gratitude.

Thanks to all the behind the scene people who not only worked a long time at the benefit but many days prior in assisting. It was a huge success and we love each and every one of you.

We go on now with a bit less worry financially and a true feeling of not being alone on this journey.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Boat

It was the boat the family used for their fishing trips. All 5 boys, mom, dad and lots of poles & bait. The boat was later sold to brother Mike when they upgraded.

Steve told his brother Mike he would work on refurbishing his boat this last winter when things were slow at the shop. Then his health got bad and his hands quit working. The boat sat at Mom and Dad's and winter turned to spring.

Michael visited after Steve's diagnosis and they both wished the boat was more usable for their fishing excursions. As soon as Mike left Steve set out with a mission to get this boat looking like a million dollars before his bother visited again. The flat bottom boat (set up like a bass boat)needed total restoration.

Unfortunately, as you know, even a small amount of work will fatigue Steve. If it is a chemo week then it's compounded. But he went to his folks every day he could and made the boat a real beauty. When the temp rose to the high 90's his mom would bring him water and make him drink. She was also his left hand and professional gofer. His dad was his consulting agent. Steve re-carpeted, painted and repaired boat and trailer.

With the benefit this weekend it is now time for Mike to visit again. I wish you all could have seen his face when he realized this gem of a boat was his. Once again Steve (aka guy with the surprise) pulled though when the odds were against him. When he should been pampering himself with naps and very little work he put someone else before himself. I want to be just like that when I grow up.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

And they all come marching home

Lots of family coming into town for the benefit this Saturday. We had New Jersey over Monday, Chicago arrived yesterday, Wisconsin Thursday and Missouri on Friday.

Everyone is so excited. Steve unfortunately is very tired. More tired than normal so keep him in your prayers. Not that you are not praying for him already. I want him to enjoy his family rallying around him. And of course to be at the benefit to see people he hasn't seen in a while.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Boys and their dogs

It was the perfect fit. Just like in Brady Bunch where they all look at each other. I had two boys who had never had a dog, he had two dogs who had never had a boy. They all were out of puppy-hood and the perfect age to appreciate each other.

What was interesting was the personalities of the dog each boy gravitated towards had the same temperament at the boy who chose it.

There was a golden retriever, Cassie who would sit all regal, prim & proper. She would come and love on you and then go lay down. She seemed so quick to learn and well behaved. This became Josh's dog. He always seemed grown up even in a little boys body. He'd listen to adults and then contribute some wisdom beyond his years.

Then there was Toby a black lab, chow mix who never gave up and lay down. She bounced all over in excitement and seemed to be stuck in that adolescent stage her whole life. Brandon wanted Toby, who would dangerously join him in every adventure one of them could think up. With a harness Toby could pull a skateboard, bike or sled and Bran would wear out before Toby would. He was very proud of the tricks he taught her. His favorite was to put a dog biscuit on her nose and have her sit while he walked all around the circle in the house coming back to her and giving her permission to flip the biscuit up and catch it in her mouth.

The boys grew up and moved on and our dogs went to doggie heaven. Toby actually lived to 16 years old. She was walked every day, although the last few years she was behind us during these walks.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The benefit


The benefit is this Saturday at the Rock Island VFW located at 3715 9th Street. It will be from 4 p.m. to midnight. There are many items that will be raffled off or silent auctioned. I wanted to tell you some of the items to get everyone excited.

Silent Auction Items

Set of Titleist Golf Clubs (can be exchanged for left handed, women's or sized)
$200 Johnny's Steakhouse Gift Card
$325 party for 30 at Haunted Hay-rack & Bonfire
Illini Football Tickets
2 hours carpenter work worth $75.00
4 hours electrical work worth $150.00
Oakley Watch valued at $550
Necklace designed for benefit by Revell Jewelers
Xbox 360 Gears of War


Raffles

Set of Titleist Golf Clubs(can be exchanged for left handed, women's or sized)
Rifle
Several, Several Baskets!

More info on the Benefit tab above

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I would not be 'the flower lady' without Steve's help.

We start in March, sprinkling seeds on dirt, spraying with water and carrying down to the greenhouse we made in the basement. We have grow lights, a fan and a space heater. We call them our kids, asking each other, "Did you water the kids today?". Then they germinate and it makes you feel like God. The little seedlings pop their head up with their seed coats still suck on. And there's that fresh smell of dirt. We wait for the last frost of which we argue yearly about and then it's time to get the garden ready. This part I like to leave to the guys.


Once I have flowers I share them with everyone. I take them to neighbors, co-workers, family and nursing homes. It's become kind of a ministry. I tell God, you grow them and I'll give them away.



This last Spring Steve hadn't been feeling well. He'd had carpal tunnel surgery in both hands but still could not use his hands to full capacity. For the first time in years I said I didn't want to start any seedlings. I felt guilty as the time came to plant and I had nothing, but also an immense relief at not having the responsibility. Then Steve went and bought packets of seeds and soon I had rows of zinnias. But I already had it in my head that I didn't have this extra duty of cutting, vasing and sharing. I found it to be a chore as I drug my feet out to the garden to cut.

Then I thought, wait, he did this for me. All the transplanting them 12 inches apart and weeding on his knees. All the watering since it would not rain. How many husbands grow their wife a flower garden? And now they are blooming and I see in their colorful array the gift of it, of him.

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's not my turn

I need to quit thinking that being a Christian means I won't have human feelings. I need to stop being down on myself for my weaknesses. I'm weak. I want to be the strong one but it's not my turn.

I have a hard time letting others help. But I need to. Not just because I need help but because it's their turn to help. And maybe these helping hands are God's way of stretching out from where He is.

I'm not getting off the hook. I still hear God telling me to shhhh, just listen to the person in front of you, and to help someone out. And surprisingly it does take my mind off my situation. I helped a friend clean a condemned apartment. It was a reminder how many comforts I have in life. How privileged I am, even when I may think I'm not.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Road trip

It's pretty sad when a trip to see another oncologist can make us excited, but we were like two kids. I know it was the car trip.

The doctor was almost comical. He was a very thin, bald elderly man that didn't seem to stand up quite straight. He showed us Steve's scans on the computer to see the change in the tumors from June to August. It was amazing, not just the difference in the tumors but the technology. Like our local doctor, he was very encouraged at the success of the chemo. So keep those prayers going guys. He said to stay with what was working and so we will continue here. He also suggested a procedure to get Steve's voice working again.

Later sitting on the deck Steve brought up taking a road trip. Of course I agreed and for the first time in a long time we seemed like our old selves.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Floating

There are times we all find ourselves in deep water. Maybe you were having a Titanic moment goofing around with your arms out straight feeling the wind. Or maybe you stood on the edge of the ship and foolishly jumped at your own choosing. In my case I was blindsided and pushed. One minute I was smelling the sea air thinking how good life was and the next I'm sinking. In my head I'm thinking bodies rise and float right? But maybe that's when they're dead. I struggle to the top and burst free taking a giant gulp of air. There is drift wood and I grab onto it for support.

So here are my choices. I can flounder around kicking and splashing and perhaps attract the attention of a shark. I can cry and scream out, "Why? Why?" to the empty darkness. Or I can float.

I don't know where this ride is going and that is scary if I think too hard so I don't. But I know I have something to hold onto and I'm not letting that go because it's my saving grace. Oh Lord, can I truly just lay my head on my arm, close my eyes and You will take me on this journey? Can I trust You to never leave me and make sure I have what I need to survive until my feet touch land? Your promise has to be different than Steve's though because he promised he wouldn't leave me either.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our rescheduled Iowa City trip

We have made it thru another cycle of chemo. This is our third out of six. It was a hard week for Steve with fatigue. He would make himself get out of bed and get dressed and by the time he was done he was ready to go back to bed.

We have our Iowa City appointment rescheduled for Tuesday at 1pm. Seems like a long time ago when it was first scheduled and then Steve ended up in the hospital. I pray we can be strong in hearing this kind of news a second time. We have a lot longer drive home this time.

I'll share later this week on how everything went.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Grandparenting

Everyone told us being grandparents was oh so awesome. I swore I would not be all ga ga like they were. And I have to admit, until he was born I did pretty good. I really enjoyed watching this fatherly side of my son come out. This love of his was more intense and committed. They are both such good parents. But oh this baby. You know it's bad when you start showing complete strangers pictures on your phone. And a new edge of worry reappears that you haven't felt in oh about 17 years. He is so funny at only 9 months old, I can't imagine what it will be like when he starts talking.

He is all about discovery. He does one of three things with what's in his hand. He tastes it, bangs it or tastes & bangs it.

I sat with him in the front yard on our plush green grass. He very slowly tried to make his fingers work to pick up items. A leaf, a acorn, some bark.
Then he would rub it between his fingers and his face would get this intense expression as he absorbs all the facts. I can tell he is going to be very smart. We had moved beyond the taste/bang faze now.

I thought of how Steve is with our friends son, Caleb. No baby talk, in fact not a lot of talk at all, which made Caleb listen to him even more. When Caleb wanted to know about the tread mill, Steven put him on it and taught him what all the buttons meant and the safety features. I thought this was so cool as I was thinking I would have told Caleb it's for big people. Maybe Steve wanted to wear him out. All I know is they were buddies after that.

Then I think forward 4 years until Parker is Caleb's age. I want him to have the 'grandpa' experience I never had. The one that takes you clamming then fishing with the clams. Mushroom hunting then cooking them with cracker crumbs in butter. Boat rides and building a fire. Whose lap is big, and arms are strong and he never seems too busy.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Another cycle done

Today was the last day for the chemo cycle. My poor hubby is extremely fatigued. If he's in his robe then he's sick. The TV is on during the day. Then he goes back to bed and I tiptoe around trying to make no noise but always end up sounding like a train wreck. Have you ever noticed how when you try to make no noise you do?

I remember BC I used to think about my house and how it must look. We have way too much glass. I would invest in Windex but I probably already own part of the company. My plants could have no brown leaves. What a disgrace that would be. It's very sad how some of my oldest plants are dying now.It's as tho they sense my sadness and are responding. Or maybe they haven't been watered since June.

I had a routine, where I got up, worked out, did a devotion and got ready for work. Now I struggle to remember if I fed the cat. She says I didn't but she always says that. Discipline has always been very important to me and I have none now. I eat sweets because darn it I deserve it! So now it is starting to show. He loses weight and I gain it.

I would come home and try to identify dinner by it's aroma as I came thru the breezeway. Steven made the most delicious meals. It's been his job for years now. I buy everything and he cooks what I buy. He is one of those cooks who starts pulling things out of the cupboard and frig and mixes it all together with pasta and waa la, a new dish never to be replicated. I keep meaning to cook now. Especially with the 42 cookbooks I've downloaded for free on my Kindle, but I don't want to make him sicker. Last weeks was a whole cookbook on making meatloaf. He hates meatloaf. I have another on making desserts with beer. Really?


Life is going on as normal around me and I want to holler out my car window, "Why are you all going on as normal? Don't you know my world is falling apart?" Sometimes I've no idea how I got to work, all I know is my car is there and I'm in it.

I hate that I know what my cry sounds like. You should only be familiar with your laugh. I hear crying is very cleansing. My eyes must be reeeeally clean.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'm okay

I overheard a conversation at the checkout counter as we all grumbled about the bad winter weather that goes on forever in Illinois. The lady in front of me said to the cashier that no one would hear one complaint from her. She said due to her medical prognosis this was suppose to be her last winter and she was going to enjoy every minute of it.

What if we omitted all the time we spend in negativity? How long would we have left? If our life only consisted of the time we spent on thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, how long would our life be?

All day long I've been on the verge of tears. I start off wallowing (this is different than waddling) in self pity each day and then I hear someone else speak candidly about their life and I realize we all have a story. Good and bad experiences are there for us all. It's just my turn for a bit more than the average Joe. I'm good, I can take it.

I'm okay
  Until I see an elderly couple.
I'm okay
  Until I look at our new grandson.
I'm okay
  Until I hear a cancer story, most of which do not end happily.
I'm okay
  Until I see leaves on the trees changing.
I'm okay
  Until I think of our sons.
I'm okay
  Until I look in the mirror.
I'm okay
  Until I hear just about any song.
I'm okay
  Until someone complains about their husband.
I'm okay
  For the first 5 seconds after I wake up.
I'm okay
  Until I think about the future.

I'm out of wit, wisdom and words. I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Did the chemo work

I have good news, the chemo has worked. Unfortunately, it worked on the cancer in Steve's liver too which confirmed the doctors suspicions that this the extensive small cell rather than the limited (which affects only one area and is then treatable with radiation too).

My Favorite View on Rock Creek
So we've been granted more time and will continue with what is working while Steve is able to tolerate the chemo. We are grateful that we are surrounded with such good family and friends. We feel the comfort of your prayers as we draw close to God not so much in understanding all this, but in knowing his love covers all, even this.

My surprise guy

Steve is all about surprises. One year he planned a trip. He booked tickets, lodging, concerts and special dinners. I didn't know any of it was happening. He gave me an anniversary card at one of the dinners that said Happy 10th. I then had to break it to him that it was only 9 years. I did add that I couldn't wait to see how he would top this trip next year.

When we were first dating I was a divorced mom with two young sons. The three of us were relocating to a new home which did not come with a stove and frig. I was lucky to have come up with the money it took to move in.  And here comes Steve in a truck with a matching set. I think they were green. Of course he wouldn't let me pay him back and it seemed like so much for a boyfriend to do.

Sometimes the surprises appear like they are for me but they are really for him. When he bought a super nice grill, he lead me out to the deck and said, "Surprise!". He then opened the grill to show me 3 African violet plants.

The best was a surprise 40th birthday party. I swear, he had people there I hadn't seen in years. And I didn't have a clue. About half way thru the night he had the Karaoke guy announce it was time for my present. He had car keys to a new car. I've never had a new car, but then I've never had a guy like Steve.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Like peanut butter and jelly

Steve and I had a bad accident several years ago. It happened soon after we left his parent's house on Barstow Road. Several family members and friends came to the scene from their house while they used the jaws of life to free us. The car was very mangled everywhere and they knew chances were good they had lost one if not both of us. One of the brothers said he thought to himself there was no way one of us could make it without the other.

We are such a team. Steve and Denice. Denice and Steve. We finish each others sentences, read lips and communicate a bunch (not always good stuff) with just a look. When I go down the basement and holler up, "Steven, why am I down here?" he usually knows. When he goes to the frig and curses, I tell him it's in the drawer.When I don't recall an events details, he always does. This amazes me. Where was I when that happened? Was I there? My sister describes us as peanut butter and jelly. I'm sure she meant this as a compliment.


I'm one of those singers that fill in the lyrics when I don't know them. And often I don't know them. Steven will always correct the words. He would definitely kick butt at that one song game. I know this should make me happy but it cuts into my song and I usually stop. Then he says inevitably, "Oh, does that bother you?" After 23 years you get to know what bothers the other. And I never intentionally do things that bother him, ask him.

The Lane Five

Five boys and my mother-in-law is still sane. And each one of her sons is fantastic and gifted in their own way. I'm so thankful for this wonderful family.

I see how they support each other and worry when one of them has something going on. I see the favors they do without worry of reciprocation. And even though 4 of them live out of town I know at the drop of a hat they would be here for their parents if they needed them.

One by one these brothers have come and spent time with us. It's been nice going to work and knowing Steven would have someone to hang out with. Each visit would bring different fun things to do. One brother helped Steven get his 65 GTO roaring. They don't purr. One spent each day he was here fishing with him. One brought him an I Pad and spent time getting him around on it.

I can't imagine what it would be like to grow up in their family, but I'm sure glad I'm part of it now. I love these guys and consider them brothers. I tell each one they are my favorite, and I mean it.


Friday, August 3, 2012

A way to help

Our family and friends are putting together a benefit for August 25th. I'll tell you more about this later.

Right now they are collecting for a  yard sale they are planning for September 6th-8th.The proceeds of this will help us out financially.  If you have gently used items you'd like to donate to this, or you'd like to come join the fun on one of those days please call the number on the benefit flyer. There is a tab at the top of this page. Thanks from both Steven & I for your prayers and encouragement.