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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Paradise Lost?...

"The faultfinder will find faults even in Paradise."
Henry David Thoreau

I find that I have recognized myself in this portrait. It saddens me that I have a habit of fault finding. Not so much in everyone else...but in myself. I wonder sometimes, when I will learn that self abuse is a flaw in my own makeup, and has nothing to do with people and things outside of myself (is that a truth?, I'm not sure.) I learned it early. If I found my faults first and aired them, then no one else could, or would, find it necessary themselves and it would lessen the severity of my own wounds. Did I find comfort in that? Perhaps a small shred. You can't make fun of me if I do it first. You can't abhor me if I beat you to it. Kinda stinkin thinkin, but it is what it is. I get a lot of exercize being my own worst enemy.

As some know, my mother-in-law is a cancer patient. In truth, she is a cancer survivor. Then again, as I see it, she is a survivor of so much more than just the insipid ravager of the physical shell we carry our souls around in. Survivor of poverty. Survivor of horrid marriages. Survivor of cancer, not once, not twice, but THREE times. And with all of that, still smiles. Yes, she has her moments, but for the most part, she's always very grateful for every new day.

Today, I picked her up for her daily trip to oncology and she was ready. Resplendant in a royal blue fleece jacket and matching hat which covered her perfectly round bald, head (the kids love to rub her head and tell her how soft it is...it makes her giggle), smiling effervescently as I help "boost" her into the van. As we drove to the doctor, knowing that she would soon be hooked up to an IV that would send what we hope are healing liquids into her body, she chatted happily about how warm and cuddly, and how pretty she felt today. I thought to myself, if it were me, I wouldn't be smiling. I'd be upset. I'd be worried. I'd be really really pissed off at whoever is running this damn show called "Life". Yet here she was, very excited to get there, get out, see people. Grateful, for every face that walked through that office door. Every other beautifully round, bald head, who came in smiling. Just like she did. It's impossible to feel sorry for yourself here. In fact, I felt ashamed to have any self absorbed thoughts at all.

I remember back when my mom was going through chemo and radiation. She was exactly the same. Taking it all in stride, smiling, talking to friends. I remember her saying..."What can I do Babes? I've got it. I can either fight it with a smile, or just give up and let it win. I don't want to let it have me that easy." Wow. How I miss her. And now, as I spend this time with my mother-in-law, this wonderful 81 year old sassy little Kiwi that I adore, I say to myself, "Good Lord, Pua. Whatever little 'problems' you think you have, you really don't. You, in so many senses of the word, have Paradise."


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