Tribute Thursday: The Boland Family

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Trina, Heather and me

 

The first time I saw Heather Boland, she was tearing up the elliptical at the gym wearing a scarf to cover her bald head courtesy of cancer treatment. I didn’t know Heather yet, but had heard she was battling cancer. A quick burst of an inhale followed by sadness and “Oh God, her kids are so young.” I didn’t think it was my business to say anything to her, but I’ve changed my thinking on that now. A year later, we met in our boys’ kindergarten class. All of our kids aligned perfectly. Two best friend boys and two best friend girls. Heather and I were in that void where there’s not enough money for childcare to work, so we took our kids around and got to talk…a lot.

One day, she practiced her speech about her experience with mouth cancer for Trina and me on my porch. Finding out. Her husband Tom leaning over, grabbing her hand. Worrying about being there for her kids. All three of us were in tears. Soon after, Heather and her family moved to Boston. We were devastated. I found myself in a deep depression, missing them so much. A year later, Steven was still drawing storybooks called: “My Best Friend Tyler Lives in Boston.” Brian flatly said: “I’ll give them two years. They’ll be back.” Okay, psychic guy. They are back, just in time for my cancer adventure.

This time, Heather leaned over and put calm hands on my hands. “We are going to get you through this,” she said. A part of my fear fell away when she said that because she had made it through. Despite taking on a demanding full-time job, she checked on me and brought us our favorite food from Jade Teahouse. They took our kids for day-long playdates. She texted me all the time. Having help from the Bolands through this was an ever-steady presence of warmth. Plus, the kids got to experience lots of play dates from their good friends Tyler and Tegan. And, Tom gave Brian comfort that can only come from someone who’s been there. So happy you guys are back! So thankful you’re our friends.

THREE POSITIVES:

1 – “Waiting for the Brazilian” Comedy for a Cure show is almost here! Next Tuesday night. Harvey’s requires a two-item menu minimum, so I’m going to have dinner down there before the show. Doors open at 6 if you want to join me. If you are a cancer survivor, call Harvey’s (503) 241-0338 and get your FREE SEAT.

2 – Livvie’s team is in the final four of Battle of the Books! Today’s matches will determine who goes on to the next level from her school. I was a big proponent of making Battle of the Books a contact sport. Sadly, I was the only one.

3 – Last weekend, I overcame annual flashback sadness. Last year, I was in the middle of chemo when Liv and I went to the Evergreen water park. I only went down the slide three times with Liv. It was sad thinking about the depleted state chemo put me on, until I went screaming down the slide about ten times this year. Brian and I even got faux romance time, re-enacting the scene from Malcolm in the Middle when the mom and dad make out in the wave pool and Brian Cranston spits out a band-aid. You gotta grab those precious moments while you can.

Hell yeah, it’s 2014!

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Look at us…Blissfully hanging out on a hopefully dormant volcano. No idea cancer was waiting right around the corner. That’s pretty much like any day. You have no idea what’s coming. So you might as well hang out on a volcano. I’ve never been so happy to exit a year as 2013 – only because of cancer. What I’ll take with me is all the positive from my amazing husband, our kids, unstoppable friends and undeniable love. We chose to live in Portland, and that’s why. Here’s to making 2014 our year to give back. But first, I’m wondering – what three positives will you take with you into 2014?

THREE POSITIVES:

1- Looking forward! First stop…my “Waiting for the Brazilian” Comedy for the Cure, Tuesday, Feb. 4th, at Harvey’s Comedy Club. That’s right. Tuesday night – a hot night in comedy because guess who’s not famous? Me.

2- Looking back. Why is it always the same? Work out. Eat better. Oh, I know why. Having your health means you’re rich.

3- Looking at right now. You guys rock. With my infrequent ability to keep posts going, I keep thinking maybe I should stop. But people still approach me at coffee houses. I’m not sure what’s interesting about this blog. Cancer’s over. I’m still writing infrequent tributes to everyone who helped us. So what do you guys want to talk about? In the meantime, check out this cool WordPress report on the blog…prepared by monkeys.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

Dear Santa, I need an extension

Okay, I’m not talking hair here. I’m talking deadlines. And I’m one of those people who hits deadlines for a living. But this one is so unfair. It snuck up on me and everyone else in the free world. Can’t we just put a filler week in there? Christmas cards? Not happening. Gifts arriving on time to East Coast grandparents? Uh. No. Gifts arriving for kids? Sure hope so. This means you, Amazon. Liv and I went on a wild run through the most lame Target ever last night. Then, I had to bribe her with lip gloss to go to Tuesday Morning, a store universally despised by all children. To finish off the holiday spirit, we watched the original Sound of Music. Normally, that’s the feel-good escape movie of the year, except how do you explain Nazi to a nine-year-old? I tried. Her only takeaway was: “They really like that ‘hills are alive’ song.”

THREE POSITIVES:

1- Here’s why it’s the most wonderful time of the year: FRIENDS! We crammed as many as we could in our house for a cheesy Polynesian Christmas and appetizer competition. Check out my pal Beto. He’s appearing with me in WAITING FOR THE BRAZILIAN…COMEDY FOR THE CURE, my comedy show at Harvey’s Comedy Club Feb. 4th (MARK IT!)

2- Looking back to this time last year makes me want to take up running. It was a Chemo Christmas. So so appreciative to be on the other side. But at the same time, my heart goes out to all the women who didn’t get to survive.

3- Best for last: My sister’s little girl is doing much better recovering at home! I’ve been so in awe of my sister’s love for her kids. What an awesome mom.

Voici Tribute Thursday: The LaBorde Famille

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Here they are in Mourenx, France, not Paris, because there are other locations in France besides Paris. Who knew?

It’s Tribute Thursday, ya’ll. That’s when I try to remind you that there are amazing people in the world. Meet the LaBorde Famille! I say famille because they’re French. When we were a new family at Abernethy Elementary, I used to notice Shonda dropping her son Josson off at Steven’s first grade class with a crazy cute baby glued to her side. Then, I heard the baby’s grandparents speaking French. I was thinking, bummer. She looks really cool and I’d love to be her friend, but if I tried to speak French now after a million years, I might hurt myself. Unlike me, Shonda is graceful and soft-spoken. So it took me a while to realize she wasn’t French. Her husband Julien is totally French. Like in an Oh yes, I wear a beret, carry baguettes and sip espresso from the Eiffel Tower kind of a way.

Fast-forward through elementary school, baby Zevry is in k-garten and our boys are headed to middle school. Our families have been friends straight through. The day Brian and I had the dreaded meeting to map out a cancer treatment plan, the kids were playing at Shonda’s. The kids didn’t know about cancer yet. When we came to pick them up, Shonda’s face went blank. The kids looked at us and knew something was wrong. We told them we had to talk to them. The first thing Steven said was, “Oh God. Tell me it’s not cancer.”

The LaBordes stayed with us through the whole mess. They brought dinner over and ate with us (Yes, baguettes were involved.) Shonda dove in head first helping organize the auction. And, Julien sat with me through chemo and drove me over there when I couldn’t see straight. They sent me a card signed by everyone in the family. But those kids! Josson was so supportive to Steven and me. He always asked how I was doing and took time to make fun of my hair and no hair. One day, Zevry screeched to a halt when he noticed I was bald. “Where’s your hair?” he said. “I don’t have any. Can I have some of yours?” I asked. So he ran around looking for scissors when Shonda stopped him!

I’m looking forward to many more years of drinking wine and whiskey (That’s right, Julien. I’m a slow drinker, but I’m still in!) Thanks for being such amazing friends to us through sickness and home projects. We love you and hope to re-enact your engagement on top of the Eiffel Tower one day.

THREE POSITIVES:

1- After almost 12 years of bodily torment, we got a new mattress. Seriously, camp sleeping on gravel is more comfortable. Very excited to have a new one.

2- It’s freezing cold, but sunny. Score: 1-1.

3- Steven’s team won their first bball game last night. There’s hope after getting pummeled by kids who eat steel for breakfast last year.

Caution for weekend: Don’t drink science

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Planning on binge drinking some serious science this weekend? Looks like you might be able eat science, too. Hope you all have a marv weekend of consuming things that are edible.

THREE POSITIVES:

1- Liv and I had the best date last night. We (gasp) went shopping. I hate shopping, but I needed jeans. When I looked down, Liv was wearing shredded shoes. So I bought her new shoes because yay, I’m working again. That’s how it is with freelance. One client check is the difference between shoes or no shoes. Groceries or no groceries. Livvie was so thrilled, she even said thank you. This morning, she told me she had the best time last night. That will keep my heart toasty for a long time.

2- We have a date for a comedy show about cancer called “Waiting for the Brazilian” to benefit Komen Oregon. Tuesday night, Feb. 4th at Harvey’s Comedy Club. Mark it down. It’s Tuesday because I’m not famous, yo. Stay tuned for details.

3- It’s the weekend! Have a good one.

 

 

Borrowed sun

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All kinds of stuff happens when the sun comes out around here, but it’s a loaner sun. We’re going to have to give it back soon. So you better get out there. Saturday, I got Lucky. Just in case you’re thinking TMI, Lucky’s a thoroughbred. If I morphed my sweet dog into a horse, she would be Lucky. It had been 11 years since I’ve been on a horse, but somehow I remembered. Saturday night, it was clear and dry. So we headed out to Kruger’s Farm on Sauvie’s Island. Okay, the Krugers are really, really great friends of ours. Like family. We’ll just put that right out there because I’m going to talk nice about their corn maze and not just because they’re my friends. Here’s why: Because their corn maze freaking ROCKS. No zombies. No screaming teenagers. Just pure whimsy. We didn’t want to find our way out of their corn maze because there’s all this cool stuff going on: a fortune teller, fire dancers, a movie theatre, live music and a bar under a vintage circus tent. Get this, they were playing my fave movie of all time, North by Northwest. How cool to see Cary Grant almost get mowed down by a bi-plane in a corn field while you’re sitting in a real cornfield? Get on out there before the weather gets nasty.

THREE POSITIVES:

1- Got to hang out with the cutest kids in the neighborhood – B and E! E likes to draw what people’s brains look like outside their heads. So Steven said, “How come there’s no brain outside your head?”

2- Here comes Steven. He dropped his pencil case with a Flash drive and brand-new calculator in it at school. Now it’s gone. Ugh, I don’t want to go buy that stuff again. But then we talked about how maybe another kid really needed that stuff. Maybe someone’s parents couldn’t afford school supplies.

3- Here comes Livvie. She’s wearing hoop earrings. She’s asking me questions about growing up. She grabs my arm as we walk home from school in the sun, and I’m in pure heaven.

Summer without a clue

Finally ripped the plastic off my dusty 2013 calendar today and curled the pages back to get to June. It’s as if January-May don’t count. The kids’ last day of school is next Friday, and I don’t have a plan. So I got together with my friends Shonda and Maria to talk about summer ideas to keep the kids occupied. In my mind, I thought we could switch kids around to prevent boredom. Like I could take the girls to do an art project while the boys did another activity. They leaned forward and wanted to take my kids completely so I can do radiation. But no! I want to take your kids too, I said. “Maybe next summer,” Maria said. “What am I going to say, ‘My kids are expecting way more energy out of you, Jacki.'” Oh hell. She’s right. I keep thinking I’m normal, but I’m not. Yet. I still need help.

THREE POSITIVES:

1- Steven made it through an entire day at school and seems to be feeling better. Tomorrow, we’ll see if he can go to school again. Today, he got a Phys Ed reward for being a good student in gym class. Awesome!

2- An employee at Subway was snarky rude to me today. Then, I realized I was wearing a hat so you couldn’t tell I’m all bald and cancery. So there’s no reason to be nice to me when I look like any other customer. Business as usual in SE Portland. My thought that I am closer to normal was confirmed when a prostitute and her pimp came into Subway and got in an graphic argument. Steven said, “Well at least I know what all those words mean.”

3- Liv crossed over from Brownies to Junior Girl Scout. I didn’t make it two weeks in Brownies, so I’m really proud of her. She cited crafts as the favorite thing she did in Brownies this year, making me twitch in fear. I don’t know my way around a glue gun. How am I going to keep her busy this summer sans crafts?