Lesson Learned: Bravery never ends for those who serve.

My brother died less than a year ago to lung cancer. The cancer was typical of vets exposed to Agent Orange or asbestos. He was in the Marines, stationed in Hawaii, when he traveled by ship (with asbestos in the walls) to bring back other Marines still over in Vietnam at the end of the war. He also remembered being near the orange containers on land.

Mike was diagnosed with cancer in November, 2010. For about a year (previous to that) he had complained about his shoulder hurting. He worked on boats and motors, thinking he injured himself due to work. My nephew, his son, finally convinced him to go see a doctor. After tests, we found out he had Stage IV lung cancer. At first we thought his cancer was from years of smoking; however, this cancer formed on the outside of his lungs, not inside his lungs. He had the same symptoms as other vets whose cancer was confirmed as an after effect of the war.

For Mike, the cancer was already in his bones, eating at his spine. Chemo and radiation worked to shrink the cancer but only enough to give him some relief. Not enough for hope as the cancer continued to grow. In June of 2011, he went into hospice care. Not long after, he was paralyzed from the waist down.

Every time we (family and friends) went to visit him, we’d have to take him out for a smoke, which turned into three or four cigarettes based on how long we could stay for a visit. There was no smoking in the building where he stayed, and the nurses couldn’t take their time bringing patients out for a smoke. But for Mike, going outside was a must. He loved hearing the leaves rustle in the wind, seeing the clouds roll by, and feeling the rain on his skin. He watched the rabbits play and hide in the bushes. I wished I had more time with him. That he could have spent one more time doing what he loved most – fishing.

Mike died August 11, 2011, at the age of 55. He wanted a party to celebrate his life and not mourn his death. I think he would’ve liked the bar chosen for his ‘party’, the food served, and the laughter of sharing Mike stories.

At his grave, the Vietnam Vets, Chapter 470 from Anoka, MN, provided a small service and a 3 rifle volley to pay final respect to one of their fellow vets. Their service will stay in my heart forever. A discarded shell from one of their volleys sits in my printer’s tray with a picture of my brother. That shell gives me honor to know he served our country. His efforts were braved years after his time in service.

Happy Memorial Day to all those who served and continue to serve our country.

Lesson Learned: We have one circle

As my brother-in-law Dean said during my vacation last week in California, we’re all part of a circle, and we have to make the most of it. I thought about what he said, and I do agree with him.

The circle starts with life and ends at death. What I do to form the circle is up to me. The circle may be short or long. I need to make sure that no matter if big or small, I can say that my circle is filled with meaning.

What is meaning? Anything that will make me happy as a person. Meaning is not ranked by status – power or money. I need to step back and think about how I want to live. What do I want to see or do before the circle completes? The great thing is that I can have more than one segment of line. I can stretch out the line. Concentrate on one or two segments. Move to the next. Think of more. Keep going.

During my late teens, I wanted to move to Colorado. I did that after graduating. In my twenties, I wanted two children and was blessed with a beautiful son and daughter. As a bonus, I married a wonderful man, and I have a step-daughter who’s been part of my life now for over 17 years. Part of my circle was all about raising a family. They’ve made my life.

Now I’m on the verge of 50. I’ve thought about my next features in life. Writing is one of them. I have always had a piece of paper and pen in my hand since I was little. I’ve written and published poems. I learned the art of writing. I wrote two manuscripts – one ready for publishing. My next step is to publish that manuscript. And then, the next. Retirement is also on the horizon. I visualize myself RVing with my husband and my family. I visualize writing with nature surrounding me.

Thinking of this circle, I have a new surge on life – excited for what’s to come. I’m looking forward to the challenge. What’s great is that raising my children has already put a smile on my face. Now I’m hoping for a bigger smile that radiates so when the circle ends, I can look at myself and know I’ve enjoyed my time on earth.

Lesson Learned: Worry Means Caring

Last night I thought about my kids and my parents and how I worry about them. I don’t think that will every end. Is it bad? I’d say no. I think it means that your life is blessed with having your heart filled with love.

Right now, I’m in the middle ground. I have my grown children and I have my aging parents that I keep under my wing of worry. ¬†For my son, he’s sick right now. I want to make sure he’s taking his medicine and getting enough sleep. For my daughter, I worry when she’s out at night. I don’t want her stranded or alone when she needs help. I then think of my mom. She’ll be 80 years old. She had a massive stroke over a year ago. Sometimes she can’t comprehend unless it’s in her daily routine. My dad is in the hospital right now with pneumonia. He is getting better, but I worry about his health. I’m in the middle ground. I’ve come to understand that the cycle continues. As my parents had worried about me before, I now worry about them. My kids will be in the middle ground when I grow old. As a mother, I understand both. I’ve learned to know that caring never ends even if it’s in the form of worry. I can accept that.

Interview Experience

I interviewed today with a journalist from a national magazine/newspaper for an article he is writing on self-publishing. My name was given to him at the RT Convention as he was looking for aspiring authors interested in self-publishing. And yes, this was my first interview and a whole new experience.

In my day profession as a business analyst, I’m the one who asks the questions or gives guidance on projects. Today was not the norm for me. When it comes to being in the spotlight, I’m not. I’m a listener and an observer. Today, I changed seats. Being an aspiring author, I have to promote myself and my stories. This interview got my feet wet, gave me an understanding of what it’s like, and gave me a feel for what questions may be asked. Even if the information I gave him isn’t used in the article, I’m still thrilled to have had the opportunity. I can say that I learned from the experience. I learned that I need to build a package to promote myself and my stories so each time gets easier and easier. With feet now wet, I’m looking forward to diving in. Head first.

Thank you, Andrew, for the interview.