Gifts from my
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
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
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
At some point, I
just had to give it over to a power greater than my small,
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
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.
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
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
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
“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 . . .