I've been driving my mom's car to work most days. It's zippy and little and I like it. It doesn't match my work wardrobe like my Trailblazer, but the new Forester makes up for it by being utterly cute ... uh, I mean, because it gets good gas mileage.
I learned to love cars from my dad. He was a fanatic over anything with an internal-combustion engine. If I could afford it, I would get a different car every couple years. Believe me, I could go on and on about cars, blah, blah, but this post isn't about cars really.
I'm just trying to figure out a way to get to what I've been really needing to write. I've begun writing this many times over the last couple months, but the truth is mean and ugly and I wish I could kick it in the ding dong.
I've been driving my mom's car, because she can't.
That's how I always start out this conversation. Before anyone can ask if she's got the flu. I then blurt out, she's got cancer.
Just seeing that word written there starts to make me mad and sad simultaneously.
She's got bad cancer. In her bones. It metastasized from the bout of breast cancer she had several years ago.
And it sucks.
It sucks for so many different reasons. One of them being that up until my dad passed away a year and a half ago, my mother cared for my dad while his health failed for years. It was a torturous illness and after it was all over, my mom was free.
Of course, there's guilt to be paid for that freedom, but she didn't pick for my dad to be sick and she cared for him in a way that was truly heroic.
And now she's sick. With bad cancer.
She lives with us now and recently she's started doing better. Getting around better, feeling less pain, being more of herself.
She's still very limited in her activity. Sitting and walking are hard still. But we're finally seeing improvement after two rounds of radiation and some other treatments and handfuls of pills.
There are many women in my mom's situation — breast cancer which as metastasized to the bones — who live pretty darn good lives. We're working toward that. We're making progress. There is improvement.
And then a couple weeks ago, my mom got a call from a sister Cynthia (No. 4) in Denver. My grandmother, my mom's mom, was gravely ill. All six of my grandmother's children came to Denver to see my gramma. I brought my mom.
Luckily for all of us, gramma rebounded nicely and is back on Facebook (Hi Gramma!) with her new laptop computer. Progress. Improvement.
One of the side effects of the hurried trip to see my gramma was that one of my aunts, my Aunt Sandra — my mom's youngest sister (No. 6), who lived close to us as I was growing up and was much like a big sister to me — brought the painting she had painted for my mother.
For those unfamiliar, it's a view of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.
And it's wonderful.
When it arrived at my Aunt Pat's (No. 3) house, we all took turns admiring it. I think we were all in agreement that it's very good and we're not just saying that because we're related to the artist.
When I showed it to Margaret, her first comment was fear for the safety of the people riding in the tram cars because there didn't appear to be any safety features (that's my girl, always on the lookout for danger).
I told Sandra about Mar's concerns and she agreed, admitting that she didn't have the time to properly restrain the people riding her painted tram. We are all related, aren't we?
As far as I know, no one in the family but Sandra has any of her paintings. The painting hangs in my mom's bedroom, next to her bed. And it looks amazing.
Sandra said she had fun painting and that she's eager to do more representation work.
I can't wait to see what she does next. And I can't wait to visit my gramma again and see my aunts and cousins again and for my mom to be able to travel more extensively and ...