Saturday, April 22, 2017

You can't take that away from me

Cancer takes things away.

I would imagine that doesn't come as a surprise to you. I've probably even talked about it on these pages before.

But I've been thinking about it quite a bit as we prepare to move out of our house of 12 years. Cancer has taken our ability to live in our home any more. True, age hasn't helped as we live on a couple of small pensions and Social Security, but I think we could have continued to manage for a few more years if cancer hadn't entered the arena whacking everything with its big fekokta stick.

We just can't manage the upkeep any longer. I am completely unable to do any of the chores, other than running the vacuum once in a while and hitting the furniture with the feather duster.

We have had to pay for services that we normally would have done ourselves, most notably mowing and snow removal. Yes, we have a riding lawn mower and we finally purchased a snow blower a couple of years ago, but I don't even have the strength to run either of them. Sheri has done her best with both, but since she broke her leg and ankle at the beginning of last year, the ability to do those things has decreased dramatically.

So, we love our home. It is on an acre of land and overlooks a beautiful lake, with 50 feet of lake frontage. But, so what? We can't manage it any more, so off we go.

We have actually found a pretty ideal condominium in the nearby city which fits most of our needs. Snow removal and lawn care, big pluses; it's on one floor which is becoming increasingly important with Sheri's leg injury and my constant fatigue.

But it isn't this beautiful home we have now. And the decision to move has really been made for us. It is the type of effect that cancer has that you just don't think about until it is you who have cancer.

“You have cancer.” Done and dusted doc. Lots of medicine, doctor visits, fatigue, nausea. Right. Got it. But what about having to give up your home, albeit for one that better fits your needs? What about the confidence you have that you have your health, so you don't need anything else? What about your hair? As it turns out, I've been able to adapt a style that I like, but again, it wasn't a style I picked, it was a style I adapted to because one of my chemotherapy treatments caused my hair to fall out.

So, cancer takes.

I've been having a hard time dealing with that lately, but, as always, the answer to living with it comes with flipping the coin and considering what cancer has given. Sheri and I are closer than ever before, which is really saying a lot.

My kids and I feel like this is a fight we are in together, so, even though we are hundreds of miles apart, it gives us something to share; something to consider at length.

The amazing support we have gotten from friends is unbelievable. Virtually every week brings an “It's a Wonderful Life”-ending sort of moment where people have helped us overcome what seemed like an insurmountable obstacle with room to spare.
Moving is only the latest example. We have already moved a lot of our stuff into a storage area with the help of friends.

Our daughter Kristie was able to visit from San Francisco for the first big weekend of moving boxes and big bits. Her enthusiasm was wonderful and she made sure neither her mom nor I overdid.

There was a wonderful symmetry to her being here as we made what is almost surely our last big move as we settle into the place where we'll spend the rest of our lives.

When I went to Sheri's house to pick her up to go our our first outing (calling it a date when we were both 44 years old was not doable), Kristie was home visiting from college. As she let me in to the house, while wheeling her bike out for a ride, Kristie (whom I had never met) said, “Be nice to my mother, she's a nervous wreck!”

And so she was, and so was I, and here we are almost 24 years later facing another outing with nerves and excitement galore. So, let's get to it.

There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere