I'm back from the down and dirty run out to Wichita. Barely, in sort of an exhausted clinging to the daily grind by my fingertips sort of way. That can happen when a quick trip has to be made as a sort of spur of the moment, time it when there are no weddings and a brief runnable respite. Once again, the truth of life (or one of them) was so in my face that it was hard not to remember to keep the main thing the main thing. I worry about the same things everyone else in America (and more than likely the world) does; mortgage payments, car payments, the exorbitant price of fuel and the fact that groceries are becoming as dear as gold. We won't even discuss the price of that! (I am ready to part with high school rings and other golden trinkets that mean less to me at the moment than a tank of gas I think!)
The family run revolved around my Mom's brother's family. My cousin is about my age, we grew up together and because of distance more than anything else sort of drifted apart a bit. Which is sad because we love to be together--- which we will do more often.....we promised ourselves. She has in the last year become my hero, plain and simple. Paula lost her Mom about a year ago, right out of the blue ---kerblam, breast cancer and gone. After a couple months she found a house that made her heart sing across town, and she bought it, cash---- smart girl! Nothing wildly elaborate but full of love and she has worked so hard to make it wonderful with plans for more. The porch on the back is an absolute dream. Her husband is a heckuva nice guy, an over the road truck driver. Dave knows every mile marker, every great restaurant and truck stop, and everything in between. He was making a delivery and got suddenly very ill, being the stubborn man with an incredible work ethic, he made his stop and got his truck unloaded before collapsing. They found out that he has cancer. So dear David is not driving anymore and getting disability was like pushing an elephant up a very steep slope, but they did. Paula made the 9 hour treks to his hospital bed several times (and back home when absolutely necessary), kept her family of grown children and a pile of grandbabies in order, kept up on work and always made payroll for her employer. She never bitched, not one time------ just kept it going. I'm not telling stories behind her back when I tell you that she is one mean old gal, she has played this role in the family since I can remember, and she does it well. She is the epitome of a strong woman, she doesn't make excuses and she doesn't complain. Stuff just flat out gets done. Well.
Dave was given 6-8 months to live and he just passed out of the 6 month zone. He's fighting with every breath against all odds. Chemo and doctor appointments, more chemo and lots of drugs he goes on.
As if that was not enough, my Uncle (probably the most stubborn man that every lived) finally got to the point at 84 years and fighting a lung disease said, I'm done, I can't live alone anymore. When these strong pillars of masculinity get to this point it gets your attention. So, her dad moved in with her and her dying husband. And on she goes. I can't even imagine. I asked her how she does it and she very honestly answered that she does it because she has no choice. Wow I said. Wow I say.
I spent a very quick couple of days with her and loved every second. I can't tell you how much I wish she were closer. She made me smile and made me laugh and made me know that no matter what I have to face in my life is in no way anything even close to the battles she is facing. And because she is facing them with such courage, style and laughter I know I can too.
I can too.
I rushed home for shoots the afternoon as well as tomorrow's wedding of Jill and Stephen, it promises to be lots of fun and we're looking forward to it. I discovered along the way home that younger folks have nothing on me, I can drive 85 miles an hour in a 2008 Ford Taurus and send text messages. So there.
But I'm going to hold close the knowledge that life is a blessing no matter what, and that the most important thing is to hold your loved ones close and fight like everything to support them and tell them that they make a difference.
Here's to you Paula, you are my hero. Especially today I'm counting my blessings and passing them along.
I do love me some Kate Jacobs and she's coming up next!