Tag Archives: sisters

Partly Sunny with a Chance of Cancer

Partly Sunny with a Chance of Cancer


The fact that I am 44 pisses me off. I might look 44, but I rarely feel it and even less than rarely act like it. It is only when I have to dig my readers out of my bag so I can read a menu or someone asks me my age and hearing myself verbalize the truth always sounds strange; that age belongs to someone else—someone old. Then I have to get real with my aging self. There are signs all around me that I am no spring chicken. I don’t dare jump on the trampoline without completely emptying my bladder first. I have to pluck more areas on my face than just my eyebrows and if that isn’t bad enough, I turn down the radio in the car when I want to talk. WHO AM I?

It may be part of my internal denial and my hopes to cling to the youth I once had, but often I don’t take time to ensure that my ‘old lady’ medical checks are done routinely and regularly. If my body was an automobile, it would not get the routine maintenance, fluid checks and changes, or the occasional diagnostic checks. Nope. I just kick the tires and turn up the radio to drown out any clanks or knocks.   This is exactly how I ended up way behind on my annual health checks (and when I say way behind, I mean several years, not months).

A couple of weeks ago I was rarely not traveling for work and folded under the intense pressure by my husband (who is also not as young as he used to be) to get my wellness exams caught up. I showed up to complete the well-woman’s circle of life maintenance check. They looked in my throat and under the hood and checked the pipes and that all went fabulous. I ended the fun-filled day with a mammogram relieved to finally have all of it completed. What I wasn’t expecting was the call I received shortly thereafter—We need you to come back in for an additional test. There was something suspicious on your mammogram. And just like that, things just got real.

I spent the next week out of town with work and tried to tamp down the word “suspicious” that kept slipping out of my subconscious and tap dancing all over my conscious. It is really hard to focus on work when you have an ambiguous word tap dancing in your brain. I arrived home and went for boob-smash ‘take two’, which led to yet a THIRD boob smash a couple days later. Boob smash number three was the equivalent to having someone fold my right titty into an Origami swan and then secure it firmly into a vice grip. The whole thing gave “titty twister” a completely new meaning, with the end result being that it wasn’t the end at all.

I was scheduled for a needle-guided surgical biopsy the next morning. The good news is that I was asleep for the “surgical biopsy” part. The bad news is I was wide-ass awake for the “needle guided” portion. Holy God, a little GHB or chloroform next time, please! I should mention this included mammogram number FOUR, and a big needle, and a Styrofoam cup taped over a wire hanging out of my boob? It was all kinds of glamorous. In addition, I had my husband, and Mom and Stepdad with me, which would have been appropriate if I was having a heart transplant, but holy cow it does feel good to be loved.

And then we waited. Waiting was difficult enough, but I was scheduled to fly out of town for work and so I had to wait 700 miles away from home. I do try and plan ahead for these situations. Unbeknownst to her, I had put on my initial paperwork that any and all health information could be shared with my sister, Kim. She called me early in the week to ask if I had heard from the doctor.

Kim:   Have you heard from the tests?

Me:        I am not calling.

Kim:       Yes you are. We have to know.

Me:       Yes, we have to know, but I am not calling. You are.

Kim:       What the hell? They won’t tell me anything.

Me:        I already signed a consent saying they could tell you anything.

Kim:       You are shitting me.

Me:        I shit you not. I can’t hear bad news from the doctor. If it is bad I need you to tell me.

Kim:       I hate you.

Me:        I know.

Kim:       I love you.

Me:        I know.


She called and we had to wait a few more days before the results were finalized. In the interim, I didn’t sleep much. I prayed a lot. God always knows when I am in trouble. I am so predictable. I also inventoried my life and the way I live it. My life is a continuous battle to keep what is important at the forefront. My little priority ducks are a bunch of bastards that I can never seem to keep in a row. I consistently fail at being present in the moment and I had to have a suspicious something show up on a mammogram to remind me that I don’t have an infinite amount of moments. I still have so many damn ducks to wrangle. At some point in my existence I want to present my wily-ass little ducks to the world in a complete and unified row.

Later in the week:

Kim:       Hey! How are things in Texas?

Me:        Mostly sunny with a slight chance of cancer.

Kim:       (sobbing)

Me:        The results are negative, aren’t they?

Kim:       (sobbing) Yes!! And now I can breathe again. (I knew if it had been bad news, she would never had let me hear her cry. She, too, is predictable).

Me:        Thank you!

Kim:       I hate you. Don’t ever do this to me again.

Me:        I love you.

Kim:       I know.

Cancer is a beast and I have seen mighty warriors fall to its ruthlessness. I will not pretend that I was not scared shitless. I am NOT a warrior. Hell, I can’t even keep my ducks in a row.   My days of kicking the tires and running on empty are behind me. I came away with a heck of a scare and a right boob that looks like it might belong to the Bride of Frankenstein. But those are two outcomes for which I have boundless immense gratitude. Life’s forecast can change without warning and I am blessed beyond belief with family and friends with whom I can find shelter, when there is even a mere threat of a storm. The truth is, I probably won’t ever get my shit completely together, but I will bet my right boobie that I won’t miss another mammogram!






Parenting is NOT Like Pie-It isn’t Easy and Not Everyone Gets the Same Size Slice

Parenting is NOT Like Pie-It isn’t Easy and Not Everyone Gets the Same Size Slice

Today was one of those days, when I question my parental aptitude. It was a day of kidpiesecond-guessing my maternal competency and sorting through my stacks of ‘should’ve, could’ve wish-I-would haves’. There were many years that I would allow guilt (perceived or genuinely earned) to consume me. I would sling that heavy bastard on my back and lug him around with me. Several years ago I decided on a lifestyle change. With a steady diet of personal reflection and regular exercises in what can I learn from this, I have trimmed down the guilt-weight. With that being said, there are days like today when Guilt knocks me down and his stupid friend, Doubt, sits on my chest and I can hardly breathe.

My three children are so completely different from one another; it is almost a stretch to think they share any of the same genetic material. When my oldest, Riley, was born I could sit her in her highchair and clean the entire kitchen and she would entertain herself with little toys or finger foods. I could put Evan in his highchair and he would beat on it, throw things, or rock it so hard it would almost tip over. Sophi would stay in her highchair for about 2.7 seconds. Even when buckled in, she would Houdini her way out and be out of sight before I could turn around. From the naked mole rat stage to their current stages of development, they have been utterly dissimilar.

So when one child feels slighted by the attention, treatment, or overall parental nurturing, it is like a stake to my heart. I immediately feel compelled to justify my parental portions. Mentally I start making note of the pieces of my love, discipline, and attention. I become totally aware that there are absolutely no ‘do-overs’ in this life and there is a good chance that I need a flippin’ do-over. The pieces of my pie are not cut and served in three identical portions. I screwed up serving my parenalt pie. Doubt is sitting squarely upon my chest.

I have been trying to get a good foot-hold on this parenting gig for over 22 years now. The mistakes I have made are many and being double-teamed today by Guilt and his fool-ass friend, Doubt, is a crappy way to start my week. There is a lot of week that I have to get through and there is a lot of fight left in my imperfect mom-self. It is time to pick myself up and dust myself off and own this Mom-thing. So, I might go down, but I am going down cutting this pie the best way I know how.

What I want my children to know:

1. I am so far from perfect that if you could buy parents, you would probably find me at the Ninety-Nine Cent Store. My love for you is not flawed. It is the best thing about me.

2. The decisions I make about your siblings is independent of the decisions I kidsmake about you. I wouldn’t put diesel fuel in a car that runs on unleaded. It doesn’t work.

3. You didn’t come with a manual. I have done my very best to make you feel loved, safe, and adored. You are loved, safe, and adored.

4. Life is not fair. It is never going to be. I have not treated you equally. I have, however, loved you equally. It is the only perfect portion I have to offer. I will never waiver on loving you each with every fiber of my being. This will be true forever.

5. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. Your siblings are not perfect. Life starts to make sense when we can look past one another’s imperfections and focus on the ‘good stuff’. Sometimes you have to look for the ‘good stuff’.

6. My days are numbered. I cannot live forever. Love one another. Forgive one another. Keep one another safe. If I can leave one legacy, it would be for you to always share the love I have given you with one another. Life is too short to fight over pie.

We Were Once Just Little White Girls

We Were Once Just Little White Girls

Yesterday, I was presented with one of the most wonderful and uniquely poignant Birthday gifts I have ever received. The gift was special for several reasons. First of all, it wasn’t my Birthday. Secondly, it was a quirky sentimental gift that holds memories from what now seems like a lifetime ago. Thirdly, (is thirdly a word, it doesn’t sound correct)…anyway, thirdly, out of the 7 billion people roaming the planet there is only one other soul who understands the reason I spontaneously laughed and cried and laughed some more when I received the gift and that person is my sister, Kim. She is also the giver of the gift, the keeper of my secrets, and the sharer of my earliest memories.
I am sure by now the suspense is KILLING you! I received a vintage 1972 Mattel Tuff Stuff toy shopping cart in mint condition (original plastic food included)!!! I am not excited about receiving this gift because I am a collector of toys or have an affinity for miniature shopping carts. The wellspring of emotions is from a childhood shared by two little girls, who embarked on thousands of adventures together (without ever leaving the backyard) and literally put 288,000 miles on a 1972 Mattel Tuff Stuff toy shopping cart, while never once using it for pretend shopping!

Note: Please don’t be abashed by the title of this blog. Although my sister and I were actually once little Caucasian girls that is not context in which I am using the ‘White’ word. Our maiden name is White and thus my referral to being little White girls.
Perhaps the greatest thing about childhood is having someone you love completely in which to share it. In this instance, I am truly fortunate. But the truth is, I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, Kim’s birth was the first devastating thing to happen to me. Although I had nine months to prepare for the “Coming of Kim”, her arrival hit me hard and fast. You see, I had this really great gig as an only child. My mom had suffered several miscarriages and had tried unsuccessfully for years to have a child. Not to brag or anything, but I was an answer to her prayers. Mom describes the first few years of my life as me being the center of her universe and what’s not to love about being the center of someone’s universe?? Oh, wait, I know, when someone comes along and shoves you into orbit!!! This, in my mind, was exactly what Kim did to me by being born!!!
Eventually, however, after all the fussing and cooing over the new baby died down and my two attempts at trying to get rid of her (only one resulted in an actual trip to the hospital and stitches to her lip) failed, I gradually accepted the fact that I was going have to learn to live with her. Once she grew out of the adorable infant stage and was actual kid-size, things started to turn around. She wasn’t perfect, but I think I have established that was pretty much a two-way street. So, to be fair, here are some things that made me a not-so-perfect sister growing up:
I was mean and I cheated at every game we played.
I cut the pigtails off of her doll
I tricked her into doing my chores, regularly.
I used my high-octane imagination to terrorize her (i.e. the light from the smoke detector was actually an eye that watched everything she did and the hip-waders in our parents’ closet contained a ghost
I made her pee in a trashcan and then told on her
When playing hide-and-seek, I wouldn’t look for her and she would stay hidden FOREVER
I burnt her nose with a yellow Starburst that I had melted in the microwave
To clarify, Kim had some quirks as well:
She didn’t talk until she was full into toddler-hood and then when she did start talking, there wasn’t a human alive who could understand her gibberish
Her innate gullibility made her exceptionally pliable
Regardless of how much I insisted and offered descriptions, she was never ever able to see my imaginary friend, Jody.
She killed my fish when I was at camp claiming “they were cold so I put hot water in their bowl and they all turned upside down”.
Differences and squabbles aside, the endless hours of escapades as playmates are the summation of nearly every happy childhood memory I had buried like a time capsule in my heart. The shopping cart opened the door to the memory of our yesterdays and like a string of dominos tipping one into the next, came the stories of two little girls wiling away days brimming with imagination. The orange handle of the shopping cart was quickly discarded and we used a crushed velvet 70s green pillow in the cart, so we could ride in comfort. And ride we did. The shopping cart was used as a horse drawn carriage for when we were the Ingalls family and needed to go to the Olson’s Mercantile for some sugar or yard goods. It was a school bus for taking and dropping off each other when we played school. It also served as a get-a-way car, a race car, a crop harvester, an ambulance, a cage for our cat, and also the actual way E.T. was able to get home.
We may have only been little White girls, but we accomplished BIG things. We turned a full-size canopy bed into an ocean fishing vessel and successfully fended off Orca the Killer Whale. We won consecutive gold medals in the driveway and the kitchen for ice skating, while wearing our matching tennis shoe roller-skates. Each of us pulled through several anthrax outbreaks, without any help from Doc Baker (we had many Little House on the Prairie inspired adventures). We rode bikes, ran barefoot, played stickball and made a clubhouse out of anything we could find. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t tackle together. We were legends in our own minds.
The fun I had sharing a childhood with my sister is by far one of the gems in my life, but it pales in comparison to the bond we forged during the not-so-fun times. When we lost a pet or a loved one or one of us got our butt beat (usually me) there wasn’t another person capable of providing the other comfort except I for her and she for me. Probably the most difficult time was when our parents divorced and our world shifted. Everything familiar and comfortable and safe was skewed. Everything ,that is, except for one common denominator…I was still hers and she was still mine and whatever we faced during that time we faced it together.
Thank you, Kim, for this exceptional gift. Thank you for knowing my fears, short-comings, quirks and glitches and loving me anyway. Thank you for helping me to slay giant killer whales and nursing me through the fevers of anthrax. Thank you for supporting my dreams, drying my tears and letting me wear your underpants during emergencies. I am blessed to have shared a childhood with someone so remarkable (and resilient). We can never return to the time of innocence where we were content in being just little White girls, but as the seasons of our life continue to change, you are and forever will be, my sister.




Birthday Guest Blog-from my baby sister, Emily

Birthday Guest Blog-from my baby sister, Emily

As you all know by now, my sister Karri received all the wordsmith genes in the family. I do believe that she has passed them on to her daughter Sophi, too (and possibly Evan, although no word on whether he has actually sat down long enough to put pen to paper to test the gene out). That being said, by the time it got to the third daughter, there was very little of the writing gene left, so please bear with me as I try to pay tribute to my oldest sister on her birthday.

My mom often tells the following story to describe her three daughters. If she drew a line in the sand and specifically told the three of us not to cross it, my response as the rule following baby would be to avoid crossing, approaching, looking at or thinking about the line. Kim, the middle daughter, who often lives in her own reality, would respond, “what line?” Oh but Karri, the first born, she would see the line and while looking you directly in the eye do whatever it took to cross it. Whether it be hopping, jumping, tiptoeing or nose-diving, she’s crossing it, line be darned. Even if awaiting her on the other side was a pit of gnarly crocodiles, she got over it. But you see, that is what makes Karri so great (albeit aggravating at times). Her tenacity to achieve whatever she has set her mind is a force not easily stopped. We have all seen it in her parenting. She would do anything, ANYTHING, for her three kids or Kevin and even her furry four-legged pals. And I know that she would stop at nothing for me, too.
I have often wondered what I would do if in a freak rule breaking accident I were to get arrested. Who would I call? Karri. In a heartbeat. Now she may not have the bail money, but she’d beg, borrow or steal to get me out. I remember one specific instance in the 5th grade, my parents were out of town and someone at school had spread a nasty rumor at me. My 12 year old heart was crushed (as 12 year old hearts so easily are). I thought of calling no one else but Karri. She talked me through the situation and even volunteered to call the rumor spreader and her mother. Now, even then I had known Karri long enough to know that my innocent private school friends and their parents were not prepared to deal with the fury of Karri-scorned, so I declined, but I will never forget that she was there for me then and countless other times. That’s another thing about Karri, not matter what she has going on, she will take the time to help you out. Like the time she “edited” my graduate school admissions essay the night before it was due. I’m sure she did this in between working full time, coaching Sophi or Evan in some kind of sport or watching Riley cheer at a football game.
Some of my earliest memories include time with Karri. I was born when Karri was 16 and I am sure she got the privilege of babysitting more often than she wanted. On several occasions people thought that I was her baby, not her baby sister. One day she had me in her cart at Wal-Mart and someone told her how cute her little girl was. She thanked the woman but told her that I was her baby sister. Then I pulled a move that I am sure I learned from her. I couldn’t have been more than three at the time, but I quickly responded, “Hey can I have this sucker, MOM?” Of course the people thought Karri was completely full of it and couldn’t believe she would call her baby her little sister. I believe this was my way of payback for her tricking me into eating the candles off my birthday cake when I was two. I also remember going over to her house after she had moved out and being allowed to do things mom would NEVER have let happen in our house. For one thing, our mom was extremely picky about what I ate. I never remember one time in my entire life eating Kraft mac and cheese at my mom’s. But when I went to Karri’s, not only did I get to eat mac and cheese, I was allowed to stand on a stool over the hot stove and stir the tasty treat (had Judy known this at the time it would have been enough for her to faint). Karri’s house was a place where fun could be had and messes could be made. I loved going there.
Looking up to Karri my entire life, I have learned many things. She may not always take the easy road, but she a unique way of finding joy along the path. If you have been around Karri at all you know that her quick wit keeps everyone around her laughing. She always puts others before herself and would do anything she could if she knew it would help someone else.
So here’s to you Karri on your birthday. I love you so much and wouldn’t trade you for any other big sister in the entire world.

Emily and Me