Home Interviews Mental Pause Monterey Peninsula Tours Speeches Welcome to Star Words by Susan Cantrell


» View Archives   

Gifts from my Little Sister

When I was about nine, I pitched such a fit at Disneyland on Mister Toad’s Wild Ride that they had to stop the venue and drag me out kicking and screaming.

Not to be outdone, my little sis pitched one during a screening of “Old Yeller” and was summarily removed from the theater by my shamed parents.

My older sis hasn’t had one yet, but she’s due.

Right now we’re both dealing, in our own ways, with the fact that little sister just had a mastectomy.

The way I was dealing with it at first was like the aforementioned wild ride. Every phone call brought me elation or devastation. Was the lump cancerous? The nodes? Was it the rare but virulent kind that took my mother, bit by bit?

I ran to support group meetings to try to get a grip.

In the meantime, little sister was working her way through the maze in a most admirable way. Yes, she first screamed at God. But seemingly faster than a gazelle, she came to the kernel of her situation. And this is what she discovered: it is not really a medical condition. It is a spiritual one.

Some things in her life were out of control. Her stress was over the top. She needed to find the balance in her life; to make some changes. She needed to find her heart center.

I, on the other hand, of lesser faith, am trying to wrap my mind around positive thinking. I know it has great healing power. And even if it doesn’t heal someone physically, it can definitely heal them spiritually.

And yet, I ponder the elusive marauder that sparks such ungainly growth of cells. Is it still lurking somewhere? Will it rear its ugly head again?

These are questions I asked myself after my mother’s cancer spread its tentacles throughout her body and ultimately moved her out of her body, heroic as she was.

These are questions I once asked myself after a lumpectomy that revealed two benign masses with somewhat irregular surrounding cells.

That was 13 years ago, and I stopped making myself crazy about it after reading up on the subject to saturation point. I simply scared myself into acceptance.

At some point, I just had to give it over to a power greater than my small, compulsive mind.

Clearly, little sis is doing this with aplomb. She has her moments, don’t get me wrong. She’s human. And yet her faith in the goodness and purpose of life is astounding.

I went to a friend who has battled cancer for nearly a decade. She owns a spiritual gift shop and is now salsa dancing, even though she has occasional treatments that temporarily drain her ebullience.

Her words of wisdom were, “You HAVE to think optimistically. It’s the only way to win.”

I hugged her and left feeling uplifted . . .

I go home and younger sis calls to cheerfully tell me what a pleasure it was to bathe after they unwrapped her bandages. I am incredulous that she is so buoyant. “Maybe I’m on a pink cloud,” she says. “But I know it’s all gonna work out the way it’s supposed to.”

I start watching TV and have an epiphany: she is where the rubber hits the road. She’s no longer suffering the fear of all fears. She is facing it and finding she can deal with it.

What could be more liberating? . . .

Gifts from my Older Sister

My older sister is a thrift-aholic. Her life is unmanageable, although she doesn’t think so.

When it started I cannot say. However, as far back as I can remember (which isn’t far) she loved to barter.

So, naturally, Mexico is one of her favorite places in the world. In fact, at one time her husband and she owned a small plane and would pop over the border every month. And, oh, did she bring home the goodies and stories of her “deals.”

I’ve been on many a “thrift store” shopping foray with her and have learned quite a bit, such as, “no” from a shop owner doesn’t necessarily mean “no.”

She could talk an Alaskan into buying ice water or out of their parka in winter. And she could sell suntan lotion to a Seattleite.
I’d let her sell my books, but she wants too big a commission . . .
At any rate, as if guided by a Geiger counter, she can walk into a tawdry Goodwill store and divine the silk, linen and genuine leather apparel like a pro. We used to be the same dress size (I’ve grown), so I gave up after she’d beat me out of the best buys every time.

So, the other day she came from Washington State for a visit and brought along her good friend, Jan. We met in Carmel for lunch, after they had “thrifted” and shopped themselves almost unconscious.

I say almost.

After lunch, I asked them to visit one of the book stores in town where they carry my book StarWords. I wanted her to see the cool earrings they sell.

Boy, did I luck out. Or, maybe not.

In a grandiose gesture of goodwill, she bought me two beautiful pairs of earrings. Real stunners: moonstone and garnets. However, before she did, she and Jan made the manager take out every single pair in the store for them to try on.

There were dozens.

You need to know that I’m not cut out for shopping, for the simple reason that I get dizzy after too much decision making.

You had to be there.

“Do you think this one is classier?”

“How will this one go with my new dress?”

“Do these make me look like an old lady?”

At one point, Jan held up her own earrings (unbeknownst to me) and asked, “How about these?”

I replied, “Oh, no. Too cheap. Real dogs. Ick!”

She roared in laughter and shock.

“Susan, these are my own 14-karat gold loops that I’ve been wearing.”


At any rate, I was withering. And to top it all off, a woman walked into the store and my sis went into her sales spiel.

“Say, you MUST buy my sister’s book. See it over there? It’s great! Full of celebrities.”

“Oh, how nice,” the woman said, politely.

“NO, really, you can get her to sign it for you right now.”

You can see where this was leading . . .

Well, I finally dragged her out of the store as she continued bartering with the woman who was trying to flee.

I hugged Jan and big sis goodbye, drove away, and made a pledge to start a Barter-anon meeting . . .






© 2006-2014 - StarWords - Susan Cantrell. All Rights Reserved. Site Design: Byte Technology.
StarWords Enterprises
P.O. Box 221251, Carmel CA 93923
Call: (831) 372-2231