Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GRATITUDE - June 26, 2012


I have known her for sixty years (the longest relationship with another living soul I have).  

We have been friends for most of our lives, (aside from the time she bit me on the shoulder when she was 1 and I was 5 for trying - unsuccessfully - to stop her from pushing onions through a hole in the kitchen pantry into the crawl space under the house...it took years of therapy to finally let that go).

I should has suspected the "blood is thicker than water" family protection thing over an incident when I was a senior in high school.  That memory has been dormant for many, many years and just popped back up - like a great memory retrieval tool with your mind's computer. 

 I was on a "date" that I was suffering angst over because my Mom "made" me take my little sister along with us to the State Fair.  There are not many situations that are lower than a seventeen year old boy having to have his thirteen year old sister tag along on the first date with a new "girlfriend".  As it turned out, she came to my rescue when no one else did.  I was probably crappy to her all evening for "ruining" my personal time with whatever-her-name-was...maybe it was Cindy or something like that....

I apologize profusely.  Seventeen year old-boys aren't big on apologizing, especially to little sisters, but fast forward 47 years and I am now ready to make amends and say thank you and I am sorry I was a %$#@ to you that night...I don't remember that I was, but I probably was.

The fair was over (way too soon when you are babysitting a pre-teen sister along on a date) and we were walking back to the car (bright yellow, 1958 Chevrolet Biscayne...see, the 60's and 70's did not suck all the memory brain cells out).  The California State Fair Grounds were in the old location off 40th & Broadway in Sacramento and the parking lot was huge, with not much light.  We came late and left late, so my car was way the hell-and-gone out on the fringes of the dirt lot.  I am walking along with "Cindy?" and my sister and we were approached by a couple of tough guys (called them "hoods" back in the day).  They wanted my date and sister to ride home with them and I exercised my 115 lb skinny little frame presence to defend the honor of the girls.  It didn't go so well, which is probably why the memory has been suppressed for 40+ years.  While I was dealing with one guy the other came up from behind and "sucker punched" me to the head and knocked me on my butt into the dirt.  Skinny, but tough, I jumped up and prepared to do battle in a scarily, over-matched situation, as I dizzily swayed  back and forth on unstable feet. 

My "whatever-her-name-was" date just stood there.  My 80 lb., 5'1" Hell-Cat, under appreciated, baby sister lit into them like a a mother wolverine, screaming and whacking them with that stupid-old-big (but damn handy that night) purse she insisted on carrying.  Saved my butt.  I instantly knew who was the better friend and it wasn't Cindy what's-her-name.

Fast forward 43 years and I get the big "You have Cancer" verdict.  Once again, the mother wolverine came to my defense against the demon Cancer (much bigger threat than the two tough-guys with duck-tail hair do's and a pack of cigarettes rolled up inside their rolled up white tee-shirt sleeves in a dark parking lot).

The purse is probably adorning the arm of some homeless woman in L.A. now, but in this battle she used the magic of an upbeat greeting card mailed to me EVERY DAY for seven weeks as I endured chemo and daily radiation treatments (yes, I still have all the cards).

By now she had her own family and the stress of raising three girls (now that I have a thirteen year old daughter - after three boys - I can't comprehend that experience times three).  She still  MADE the time to find, fill out and mail in an uncanny timely manner, a new card daily.  It worked.  This time she was aided by the other great women in my life, my loving, supporting wife, my female Radiology expert and female Head and Neck Cancer Oncologist in chasing the Cancer demons out of the dark parking lot.  

Forever appreciative to strong, intelligent, aggressively pro-active women.  Don't mess with them.

Four years post Cancer diagnosis, I am still here and preparing to retire (1 day - 23 hours - 57 minutes and 13 seconds...but who's counting).  Smart woman that she is, my baby sister beat me to that Nirvana and retired early last year and is standing on the shore on the other side of work-a-day life, waving a lantern and holding a latte in her outstretched hand.  She reads my blogs every day.  I get thousands of hits on my blogs and I am grateful for the 15 seconds of "internet fame".  But she and my wife are the only ones that comment regularly.  Without that, I would feel that I am speaking to a rock.

This past week I have been getting the 2012 version of a greeting card every day.  


Today's text was simple, but powerful.


I am very lucky and definitely thankful to be graced with not only a fabulous companion wife, but a sister that has had my back (except for when she bit me and in spite of the fact I set her hair on fire camping in Yosemite) for 60 years.  Pretty cool, don't ya think?

rlw (1 day - 23 hours - 50 minutes -34 seconds)

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