In My Life

Arnold May

August 18, 1952 — May 22, 2011

There are places I’ll remember, all my life though some have changed…

Some forever, not for better, some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments, with lovers and friends I can still recall…

Some are dead and some are living…

In my life I’ve loved them all…

But of all these friends and lovers…

There is no one compares with you…

And these memories lose their meaning when I think of love as something new…

Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before…

I know I’ll often stop and think about them…

In my life I love you more…

Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before…

I know I’ll often stop and think about them…

In my life I love you more…

In my life I love you more.

I love you daddy.  We miss you.

 

The Beginning of the End

I alluded to this in my last post and I’ve talked about it on twitter, but I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people wanting more explanation, so here goes.

In case you weren’t already aware, my dad has prostate cancer.  He has been fighting the good fight for over ten years.  That is not an exaggeration.  It hasn’t been a little bit of treatment, remission, cancer comes back.  It’s been ten years of cancer.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many rounds of chemo he has done.  10 years worth, I guess.

He’s had good years and bad years.  The past few years have definitely been hard, and this past year has been the worse.  Still, over the holidays, even though he didn’t look great, it seemed like he could get through and keep fighting away.

Not anymore.  My dad has been rapidly declining over the past couple of months.  He spends most of his time in bed.  He’s lost 35 pounds.  He can barely hold his 12 pound granddaughters.  After this most recent round of chemo landed him in the hospital again, my dad has made the choice to stop treatment.  He will do home hospice and pain management until…well, until the end.  It could be weeks or months…we just don’t know.

I am very, very sad and very, very angry right now.  I hate that this is happening to our family.  I am so angry that my siblings and I have to go through this.  I’m angry that my step-mom has to deal with this.  I’m angry that my daughters won’t remember their grandfather.

I keep thinking about the fact that we won’t get to have Christmas together anymore.  I keep wondering where I’m going to go to buy funeral dresses for my daughters to wear.  I’m terrified when the phone rings, and every time I see my dad I wonder if it’s going to be the last time I ever see him.

I’m also tired of all the advice.  I’ve gotten several emails this weekend from people trying to make this sound all lovely and romantic.  He’s stopping treatment, so now he can run off to Paris and live it up in his last days.  You guys?  It’s not like that at all.  The reality here is much uglier.  My dad is too weak to get out of bed.  He’s not going to Paris.  He’s going to be drugged up and sick until he dies.  That sucks.  And no, I don’t want to hear about the magic diet that cured your aunt’s cancer, or how you know this guy who was practically dead but he tried acupuncture and was saved.  That’s just not helpful to me right now.

I’m happy for my dad that he’s at peace with his decision, and I really do believe it’s the right choice.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t be sad and angry.  I’m about to lose my daddy, and I have the right to stomp my feet, pout, cry, and feel however I want to feel about it.

I’m really struggling with whether or not to leave comments open or not.  I’m going to try it, but I am begging you to please not try to give me advice on how to fix the situation.  There is no fixing here.  Just a lot of pain and sadness that needs to be worked through.

Repost: I Still Believe…

This is a repost from December 2008.  Just a little reminder to myself of the magic of Christmas…

I remember the joy of believing in Santa when I was a child.  I remember my dad pointing out Rudolph’s nose lighting up the night sky on Christmas Eve.  I remember being too excited to sleep, yet somehow sleeping anyway.  I remember waking up on Christmas morning with my stocking at the foot of my bed (really a clever move by my parents to keep us kids in bed a little bit longer).  I remember sitting at the top of the stairs with my brother, the anticipation growing, while my dad set up the video camera downstairs.  In our house, Santa didn’t wrap the presents, and there was something truly magical in that moment when I was still on the stairs but could see the pile of gifts from Santa.

I was in fourth grade when I learned the truth about Santa Claus.  I went to a friend’s house after school one day, shortly before Christmas.  I don’t even know how Santa came up, but I remember very clearly her saying to me, “You don’t really still believe in Santa, do you?”  And she laughed.  I laughed too, “Of course I don’t.”  But the truth was, I did still believe.

Did I still believe that a man in a sleigh with magical reindeer flew around the world delivering gifts to all the world’s children in just one night?  Well, not really.  But, I also didn’t believe that Santa was an elaborate ruse thought up by parents.  I still believed in…something…but I wasn’t sure just what it was.

I went home and talked to my dad.  If anyone would know the truth about Santa, it was my dad.  Dad told me that my friend was wrong.  There was such a person as Santa Claus.  No, he didn’t fly around in a magical sleigh on Christmas Eve, but he had been a very real person.  That was the day that I learned about Saint Nicholas.  He was a protector of children and had a reputation for secret gift-giving, thus he became the role model for Santa Claus.

So, yes, at 29 years of age, I still believe in Santa Claus.  I believe in the power of giving to those we love and to those in need.  I believe in the power of one person to make a difference in the lives of many.  I believe in the magic of Christmas, and I cannot wait to share the story of Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas with my own children.

Merry Christmas!

Save the Dads

My dad is 57 years old.  He retired this year.  In case you weren’t aware, my dad has prostate cancer.  He’s been battling cancer for nine years.  Yup.  Nine.  And that’s nine years of cancer…not cancer, remission, cancer…just cancer.  He’s had surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and just about every kind of experimental drug or treatment out there.  He has an entire pharmacy on the kitchen counter.  He gets to deal with all kinds of crazy drug side effects.  While we enjoy a good laugh as his bathroom troubles, it’s really not funny.  Currently, the cancer lives in his spine.  He’s in pain most of the time.  His doctors say that as long as the cancer stays in his bones, they can keep him alive for a long time.  My dad wants a grandbaby, and I really want to be able to give him one.  He’s hung on for so long, but I wonder every day how much longer he can do this.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.  Did you know?  Probably not.  Most cancers aren’t lucky enough to have the press that breast cancer does.  Now, before everybody jumps all over me and starts the hate mail, I know that breast cancer is a serious disease.  I’m aware that it deserves press.  I am not in any way implying that breast cancer isn’t serious and doesn’t affect millions of people.  I’m just trying to bring my cause to your attention.  Obviously, I support breast cancer research.  I support any cancer research, but I monetarily support prostate cancer because it affects my life daily.  Ask me for a donation to your 3-Day walk, and I will happily donate to the Zero Project in my dad’s name.

This post is supposed to be educational, so let’s talk about some facts:

  • Prostate cancer is diagnosed every 2 minutes and 15 seconds; it is the most diagnosed cancer among American men.
  • Prostate cancer takes one life every 15 minutes.
  • One in six American men is at a lifetime risk for prostate cancer.
  • If a close relative has prostate cancer, a man’s risk of the disease more than doubles. With two relatives, his risk increases five times. With three close relatives, his risk is about 97 percent.
  • Prostate cancer represents 33 percent of all new cancer cases in American men. That’s more new cases than any other cancer.

Prostate cancer is a serious disease, and more needs to be done to raise awareness and to find a cure.  Please consider passing this information on or making a donation to the Zero Project.  It’s too late for my dad, but it might not be too late for yours.

Weekend Randomness

Ted and I had a lovely, productive weekend!  Ted had worked overnight shifts at the beginning of the week, so it worked out that we had Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off together.  This never happens.  We rarely have more than one day off together in a week, so it was great to have some time to spend together and get things done.

Friday we slept in a bit, and then jumped right in to my least favorite thing in the world — yard work.  Of course, this yard work was actually fun, because instead of pulling weeds, we actually did something to make the house look better.

Ted getting ready to build the wall.  This is a giant mound of dirt in front of our house that used to be full of nasty, ugly plants.  It took us two years to successfully kill those plants.

After a busy morning of work, we now had a lovely wall surrounding our mountain of dirt.

Friday night, we got to go to a surprise engagement party for my friends Stephanie and Adam.  I love surprises!  Plus, there were tons of snacks and Costco cake!

On Saturday, we slept in until about 10:30!  It was glorious.  After waking up, we treated ourselves to breakfast at Panera and then grocery shopped.  I lamented the rain, because I wanted to plant my plants, but the sun eventually came out for me!

Here are my pretty new plants.  You can see that there is still some work to do over on the side of the house, but at least I have some legitimate plants now!  I have no idea why this picture is so crooked.

Saturday night, my in-laws came to visit and took us out to dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant.  Yummy!

Sunday, Ted and I work up early, hit the Starbucks, and then headed down to Ottawa to spend the day on my dad’s boat.

On the drive down, we saw this great license plate.  IPOOD.  It was the highlight of my weekend.  Yes, I am twelve.

I enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine safely from behind my SPF 70.

There’s my daddy, Cap’n Arn!  Isn’t he cute?

Ted napped too!

So, that was our lovely weekend.  What were you up to this weekend?

Caribbean Cruise Photo Essay — Post the Third

Oh yeah.  I guess I should finish posting about the cruise!

So, January 6th, we visited St. Thomes in the U.S. Virign Islands.  It was kind of cool to see things like U.S. postal trucks and the Boy Scouts of America.  I also thought it was neat how they drive on the wrong side of the road, but in American cars.  Our cab driver told us they tried to change what side of the road they drove on in the 1920s, but it never stuck.

View of St. Thomas from our balcony.

St. Thomas is known for fantastic shopping, especially when it comes to diamonds.  So naturally, the first thing we did was buy me a diamond anniversary band.  Woot!

Me and my baby sister.  She’s the tan one.

We rode up to Paradise Point in some sort of cable car contraption.  Awesome views.

We were one of seven cruise ships on the island that day!

Me at Paradise Point

Erin & Ted

My sister and her friend, underage drinking.  They were so excited.

Back on the ship.  I love turtles!

St. Thomas at night.

Me and a towel elephant.  I just adore towel animals!

I was going to make this a two-day post, but I think that’s enough photos for today.  Next post — Tortola and dolphins!

Caribbean Cruise Photo Essay — Post the Second

Part of taking a cruise means you get to listen to announcements from the Cruise Director on a fairly regular basis.  Luckily, our Cruise Director, John, was an Australian bloke with a lovely accent, so I didn’t mind listening to him.  He frequently hoped we would have a smashing day or a cracker-jack time doing this, that, or the other thing.  However, my favorite part of the announcements almost always involved Bingo.  Yes, Bingo.  Juice nearly came out my nose the morning that John came over the intercom and announced, “Ladies, drop your pancakes and your sausages!”  It was nearly Bingo Time and John wanted to make sure we all had a chance to finish up with those sausages.  Of course, there was also the Bingo announcer who would come over the intercom and sing, “Bingo Time!  Bingo Time!  Bingo all the way!” in a fairly thick Slavic accent.  Oh so much fun.

I know, I know, get on with the pictures already.  I’m working on it!

So, on January 5th, John promised that we would wake up in the Dominican Republic, and he wasn’t lying.  We anchored near Samana in the Dominican Republic.  Our shore excursion for the day was a Jeep caravan tour that included a stop at the beach, a visit to a local farm, and a hike to a lovely waterfall.  We were definitely glad that we booked a short excursion, because Samana is an extremely poor area, and there was little to do if you hadn’t booked a trip.  While I enjoyed our time in Samana, I also struggled with feeling like a wealthy, colonial tourist when small children frequently asked me for money.  Anyhow, here are those pictures I promised:

View from our balcony.

Samana, Dominican Republic

View from our Jeep.

There were so many dogs!  I was informed that I could not adopt them all and start a puppy haven in my backyard.  I really don’t see what the problem was.

Yeah.  I was there.  Sigh.

Seriously gorgeous.

Yes, I am really that pasty and white.

On the hike to the waterfall.

The local kids came out to guide us to the waterfall.  Here is my brother and his girlfriend with their guides.  Notice our tour guide picking his butt behind my brother.

Me at the waterfall.

Crossing the river.

Ted takes a self-portrait.

Me and my towel mouse.  So cute!

Too many photos?  Believe me, there are more.  I didn’t post the one of my brother peeing in a bush, which proves I have some level of restraint!

Caribbean Cruise Photo Essay — Post the First

Since it’s been nearly two weeks since we left for our cruise, I’m guessing you might like to hear about it.  We took over 300 photos, so I’m going to divide this photo essay up over several posts.  If you are super-eager and want to see all of the photos, you can check them out here.  Just note that you have to be my friend on Flickr to view any photos that have people in them.  Feel free to make me your Flickr friend.

On Saturday, January 3rd, Ted and I left our house at 2:30 in the morning to head to my dad’s house and then to the airport.  Most of our first day consisted of traveling:

Ted and I hanging out at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale while we wait for a bus to take us to the ship.

My sister, her friend, my brother’s girlfiend, and my brother (who stole my iPod touch) all enjoying a day of lines and waiting.

Finally on the ship!  The first photo from our balcony.

Leaving Miami.

Balcony view.

On January 4th, we spent the day at sea on our way to the Dominican Republic.  Ted and I spent the day exploring the ship, hanging out with my brother and his girlfriend, and laughing at my sister who spent the day throwing up.  At night, all 14 of us met for pictures and a steak dinner.  There was, of course, some minor drama, but overall we managed to have a good time.

We went to spy on my dad, who was getting a pedicure.  Poor Victoria.  I wouldn’t want to touch those feet!

Look!  A Caribbean Penguin!

Ted taking his own photo in the elevator.  Notice my dad sticking out his tongue.

Ted and I at dinner.

My dad and I at dinner.  I am rockin’ some serious cleavage.

My niece and the Caribbean Penguin.

Our first towel animal — a puppy!

So, that wraps up our first two days.  Be sure to check back soon to see the good times we had in Samana and St. Thomas.  Stay warm!

I Still Believe…

I remember the joy of believing in Santa when I was a child.  I remember my dad pointing out Rudolph’s nose lighting up the night sky on Christmas Eve.  I remember being too excited to sleep, yet somehow sleeping anyway.  I remember waking up on Christmas morning with my stocking at the foot of my bed (really a clever move by my parents to keep us kids in bed a little bit longer).  I remember sitting at the top of the stairs with my brother, the anticipation growing, while my dad set up the video camera downstairs.  In our house, Santa didn’t wrap the presents, and there was something truly magical in that moment when I was still on the stairs but could see the pile of gifts from Santa.

I was in fourth grade when I learned the truth about Santa Claus.  I went to a friend’s house after school one day, shortly before Christmas.  I don’t even know how Santa came up, but I remember very clearly her saying to me, “You don’t really still believe in Santa, do you?”  And she laughed.  I laughed too, “Of course I don’t.”  But the truth was, I did still believe.

Did I still believe that a man in a sleigh with magical reindeer flew around the world delivering gifts to all the world’s children in just one night?  Well, not really.  But, I also didn’t believe that Santa was an elaborate ruse thought up by parents.  I still believed in…something…but I wasn’t sure just what it was.

I went home and talked to my dad.  If anyone would know the truth about Santa, it was my dad.  Dad told me that my friend was wrong.  There was such a person as Santa Claus.  No, he didn’t fly around in a magical sleigh on Christmas Eve, but he had been a very real person.  That was the day that I learned about Saint Nicholas.  He was a protector of children and had a reputation for secret gift-giving, thus he became the role model for Santa Claus.

So, yes, at 28 years of age, I still believe in Santa Claus.  I believe in the power of giving to those we love and to those in need.  I believe in the power of one person to make a difference in the lives of many.  I believe in the magic of Christmas, and I cannot wait to share the story of Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas with my own children.

Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving — A Photo Essay

I didn’t write the traditional, “Things I am Thankful For” Thanksgiving post.  If you don’t know that I’m thankful for my husband, dogs, cheese, and the internet then you don’t know me very well.  However, I can’t let Thanksgiving pass completely undocumented, so I will now present photo highlights from our Thanksgiving.

Ted Bastes the Bird

Erin Pretends to Cook

Rufus Waits for Guests

Happy Birthday, Kaya!

Award Winning!  World Famous!  Cap’n Arn’s Turkey Gravy!

Mini-Wine (Followed by Maxi-Wine)

Cheers!

Even Small Children Approve of Ted’s Cooking

That Was Good!

Rufus Interrupts Wii Beer Pong

Stealing Grandpa’s Party Mix

Napping Buddies

Hope your Thanksgiving was full of love and good food.  Try not to kill any retail employees during your Black Friday shopping!