Friday the 13th – Friend or Foe?

fri the 13th

Seventeen years ago today, on Friday, July 13th, during the 13th hour of the day, I was told I had cancer. Nine years ago, on July 13th, during the 13th hour of the day, I was told I had been downsized from my job of 22 years.

So, whether you believe it’s lucky or unlucky, you can’t argue that this 13th day of July has been life-altering for me.

Throughout my life, the number 13 has appeared more often than one could attribute to mere chance. It’s interesting and intriguing. I am learning to embrace my rocky relationship with this number. It has led me down different paths I never would have taken otherwise.

Today’s path will involve avoiding black cats, cracks, ladders, and mirrors. Hey, better safe than sorry!

More importantly, I am lucky today because I’m celebrating 17 years of being cancer-free! So, I’m going to do a happy dance. Feel free to join in. We can never celebrate cancer-free anniversaries enough!

Cast Spotlight: Anna Walker

Anna-300x271Today’s second spotlight is shining brightly on Anna Walker! Her story touched me deeply. And I’m sure it will impact you too. She has had more than her share of adversity. How she continues to handle it makes her an inspiration.

To learn more about Anna, check out her interview with event organizers.
http://listentoyourmothershow.com/indianapolis/2014/04/22/cast-spotlight-anna-walker/

And don’t forget to get your tickets!
https://tickets.indianahistory.org/Info.aspx?EventID=1

Cast Spotlight: Caroline Hoy Myers

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     Today, I am honored to feature Caroline Hoy Myers! She is another fellow LTYM Cast Member.

     I was totally blown away by Caroline’s piece. And I can’t wait for you to hear it as well. Her story touched my heart and my soul. Here is the link to her interview. http://listentoyourmothershow.com/indianapolis/2014/03/31/cast-spotlight-caroline-hoy-myers/

     It seems fitting to feature Caroline today, because today is her birthday! Happy Birthday, Caroline!

     I sincerely hope you join us for an afternoon of wonderful stories and tales about motherhood. Get your tickets now! They’re selling like hotcakes! https://tickets.indianahistory.org/Info.aspx?EventID=1

Introducing…Amparo de la Peña!

Amparo_Headshot.jpg-300x254     Amparo de la Peña is the first cast member to be featured for this year’s Listen To Your Mother Indianapolis show! There will be two performances this year. They are on Sunday, April 27th, at 1:00 P.M. and 5:00 P.M., at the Indiana Historical Society.
     Although I can not reveal the subject of Amparo’s piece, I can tell you, I related to it personally. I guarantee many of you will too. I am looking forward to sharing a stage with her.
     Here is her interview with event organizers. http://listentoyourmothershow.com/indianapolis/2014/03/30/cast-spotlight-amparo-de-la-pena/

     Tickets are currently available for both shows for $16. But ticket prices will go up on April 15th to $20, so get your tickets now! https://tickets.indianahistory.org/Info.aspx?EventID=1

See Me Perform Live On Stage!

     Yes, friends, I will be performing live! I am thrilled to be part of the cast of “Listen To Your Mother!” What is “Listen To Your Mother?” Well, click here to see what it is all about. http://listentoyourmothershow.com/indianapolis/
     As you can see from their website, I will be reading my own original work on stage, along with thirteen other creative women.
     There are two shows on Sunday, April 27th. For show times, tickets and more details, click here:  https://tickets.indianahistory.org/Info.aspx?EventID=1

     Ticket prices go up after April 14th, so get your tickets now! Hope to see you there!

Zeke and Bubba Go To Daytona

i     By now, many of you have heard about the six hour and twenty-two minute rain delay at this year’s Daytona 500. Others of you might even know that Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race. What you haven’t heard is the story about Zeke and Bubba. It’s about two brothers and their adventures related to this year’s race. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
     Zeke and Bubba were vacationing in Florida with their wives. Being the avid NASCAR fans that they are, they decided to go to the Daytona 500. Their wives wisely spent their race weekend shopping.
     After bidding their lovely wives adieu, the senior citizen brothers drove toward Daytona. The first order of business was reserving their parking spot for race day. They paid $50 to park in a Five Guys restaurant parking lot near the track. Then they checked out the souvenir stands at the track before going to dinner.
     They arrived at the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse woefully underdressed. Imagine them dressed in typical NASCAR race fan attire. Instead of turning them away, the hostess seated them in a “special” room in the very back of the restaurant.
     After dinner, they checked into their hotel, 30+ miles away. It was a Candlewood Suites property.
     The clerk asked, “Have you ever stayed with us before?”
     They responded, “No.”
     “Well, you have a standard room. There is no maid service for the weekend.”
     Dismayed, they replied, “Huh?”
     “Your room will not be cleaned during your stay. If you need something, like towels or toilet paper, you will have to come to the desk and ask.”
     “You’re kidding.”
     “No, sir. I’m not kidding.”
     Zeke inquired, “What about breakfast in the morning?”
     “We do not offer a continental breakfast. We do have a few vending machines around the corner. And there are several restaurants nearby.”
     Zeke and Bubba gave each other a look and shook their heads. They completed the check-in process and received their room keys.
     They located their room and flipped on the light. To their surprise, there was only one bed. It was not a king size bed. They weren’t even sure it was a queen size bed.
     Knowing every room within one hundred miles of the track was booked, they knew they were stuck. At least they were moderately close to the track.
     They decided to make the best of it and relax. Zeke commandeered the recliner. When he pulled the lever, the recliner went back, way back. Almost perfectly horizontal. That was the only position it offered. And the chair wasn’t level by any means; it leaned heavily to the right. He tried to shift his weight to level the chair, but it was like riding a surf board through a tidal wave, lying on your back. The waves were relentless. Tilting and rocking this way, then that.
     Bubba laughed at his brother’s misfortune as he sat in a swivel chair. He propped his feet up on another chair. He leaned back and within moments, he flipped over the back of the chair and crashed to the floor, hard.
     Zeke struggled to free himself from the tipsy recliner and rushed to his brother’s aid. “Are you okay?”
     Dazed, Bubba responded, “I think so.”
     Zeke helped his brother up, and they had a good laugh over it.
     They finally decided to call it a night. There was no clock in the room. So, they called the desk for a wake-up call. After getting ready for bed, they left the bathroom light on, in case nature called in the middle of the night.
     The bed was barely big enough for the two of them. Zeke joked that they could do a remake of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”

     In the early hours of the morning, Zeke had to go to the bathroom. When he tried to open the bathroom door, it was locked. All of his pushing and pulling on the handle woke up Bubba.
     Bubba asked, “What are you doing?”
     “I have to go to the bathroom, and the door’s locked.”
     “Locked?”
     “Locked.”
     “How can it be locked?”
     “I don’t know. It’s locked.”
     Bubba got up and tried the door. “It’s locked.”
     “That’s what I’ve been saying.”
     After several more minutes of pushing, pulling and sticking various objects in the doorknob hole, Bubba slid a coin into the slot and unlocked the door. There was much rejoicing. And both were relieved, literally and figuratively.

     At 6:00 A.M., the wake-up call sounded. Zeke grabbed the phone on the night stand. It was dead. The phone across the room taunted him. (I’m imaging a curse word was uttered at this point.) Bubba got up and answered the other phone.
     Around 7:30 A.M., they drove 30+ miles to the Five Guys lot and parked. Then, they walked a quarter of a mile to the Cracker Barrel for a hearty breakfast. The restaurant looked like it had been gutted. The store part of the restaurant was non-existent. Long picnic tables stretched from one end of the building to the other. People were packed in like sardines.
     The hostess asked, “How many in your party?”
     Zeke replied, “Two.”
     “Name?”
     Always the jokester, he spelled, “E-I-E-I-O.”
     He watched as the girl actually wrote, “E-I-E-I-O.”
     Zeke apologized, “I’m sorry. I was joking.”
     The girl looked at what she had written and laughed.
     Zeke smiled and gave his real name.
     Once seated, they were handed the menu. There were five, yes, count ‘em – five choices. That was it. The choices were priced at $7 and $9. The only eggs you could order were scrambled. You couldn’t order toast or waffles. But you could have all of the grits and gravy you could eat.
     Zeke and Bubba were not fans of grits and gravy. Zeke ordered a $9 breakfast—a slice of sugar cured ham, hash brown casserole, three scrambled eggs and fried apples. He even managed to sweet-talk the waitress into bringing him sourdough toast. He was the only person to get toast that morning. He said, “It was de-licious!”
     Bubba got a $7 breakfast—sausage patties, hash brown casserole and three scrambled eggs.
     After breakfast, they walked back to the Five Guys parking lot and sat at one of the outdoor picnic tables. Zeke took a nap. Bubba read a magazine.
     Many of the area restaurants were closed and sold their parking spots for $40 or $50 each. So their options for lunch were limited. They decided on Panera. The “You-Pick-Two” deal had healthy choices for soups, salads and sandwiches.
     They entered the Panera and joined the line. The bakery items beckoned to them.
     Zeke said, “I don’t know about you. But I’m not going to waste any calories on soup or salad.”
     “Me either.”
     So, they ordered danishes, scones and other tasty treats.

     Riding their sugar high, off to the track they went, and they hiked to their seats. The first part of the race was enjoyable, but hot. Initially, they were relieved when the clouds rolled in. That soon changed.
     Bubba looked at Zeke. “I felt raindrops. Do you feel raindrops?”
     “Yup. We better head for cover.”
     Sitting on aluminum seats in the middle of a thunderstorm with tornado sirens going off was not good.
     They found shelter in the entrance of the men’s bathroom. And there they stood, for the next six hours. They were not about to give up their spots for anything. And they met a lot of interesting people, coming and going. (Sorry, Zeke insisted on the pun.)
     Eventually, the rain let up, and they were hungry. They forfeited their coveted spots in search of food. Remember, vendors were prepared for an afternoon event, not an entire day-long event. Two booths ran out of beer. One ran out of cheeseburgers. Another ran out of pop and foot-long corn dogs. They finally found a vendor with food—Philly cheesesteaks. But that vendor didn’t have drinks. Parched, they searched and searched for a vendor with drinks.
BhPZLZ0IAAA_f45     While quenching their thirst, they stood under some bleachers. It was raining, and they had no rain gear. Zeke came up with an idea. He approached a track worker. “Can you help a race fan out? It’s pouring, and I could really use one of those garbage bags.”
     The worker handed over a black garbage bag. Zeke poked a hole in the bottom for his head and poked out two arm holes. He and his NASCAR shirt would now stay dry. He ran back and told Bubba to get himself one.
     Bubba ended up paying a dollar for his rain gear. He was too embarrassed to beg for a bag. He only poked a hole big enough for his head.
     At this point, Zeke realized his Dale Earnhardt commemorative hat could get ruined by the rain. So he walked over to a souvenir stand.
     As he approached, the lady commented, “Nice poncho.”
     Zeke pressed his hands together in prayer and with a weird accent pleaded with the lady, “I have come to beg for a helmet.”
     It took her a second to figure it out. She laughed heartily and handed him one of her plastic bags. She mimicked his weird accent, “Here is your helmet.”
     “Thank you!”
     No one has ever accused him of not being resourceful. Zeke gleefully pulled the bag down over his head. Kids, don’t try this at home! It was clear, so he could see through it. But after a few minutes (and almost suffocating,) he poked holes only big enough for his eyes and nose, and proudly donned his helmet.
     Then the brothers headed back to the men’s room to get some paper towels to dry their seats. Not wanting to be seen carrying the paper towels, they stuffed them into the front of their pants. So, now picture them wearing their garbage bags with protruding bellies, and Zeke wearing his helmet.
     Toward the end of the race, they worried about getting clean towels and toilet paper for their hotel room. They realized they weren’t going to get back until after midnight. They didn’t think anyone would be at the desk. And they only had a partial roll of toilet paper left. And they had thrown all of their towels on the bathroom floor. Quite a conundrum.
     During their last visit to the men’s room, Zeke encouraged Bubba to grab some toilet paper. “What if there’s nobody at the desk when we get back? We don’t have enough toilet paper. We have to have toilet paper.”
     Bubba agreed. When they got back to the car, Bubba pulled out an industrial roll of toilet paper from under his garbage bag poncho. (You know the enormous rolls that weigh a few pounds each.)
     Zeke and Bubba laughed like school boys.

     At 12:30 A.M., they arrived at the hotel. And to their surprise, there was a lady at the desk. She eyed the enormous roll of toilet paper Bubba was carrying.
     Zeke quipped, “Don’t worry. It’s for our adding machine.”
     Bubba and Zeke laughed all the way to their room.
     Zeke gathered all of the dirty, wet towels and carried them to the desk. “We need towels.”
     The lady pointed. “I’ll meet you around back.”
     Zeke replied, mischievously, “Oh, I’d love to meet you around back.”
     The woman shook her head.
     He met her in the laundry room to get fresh towels, as Bubba yelled, “Don’t forget to get a roll of toilet paper!”
     Apparently, the gigantic roll was a bit unwieldy to manage.

     When they checked out the next morning, Bubba decided to leave the toilet paper behind, which probably bewildered the housekeeping staff. Then the men drove back to the other side of Florida to rejoin their wives.
     After the men relayed the tale of their weekend adventure, Bubba’s wife said, “Oh, you poor guys. You had so many troubles.”
     Zeke’s wife just smiled.
     The brothers exclaimed, “What are you talking about? We had a wonderful time!”
     And they meant it.

Copyright © 2014 by Suzanne Purewal

World Cancer Day

CourageToday is World Cancer Day. And I am pleased to announce that I am 12 ½ years cancer free. When people asked me today how many years I have been cancer free, I’ve been rounding up to 13 years. That is what I posted on my Facebook Page. But for this blog post, I decided not to round. Perhaps because I need to express “the half.”

When we were children, we always gave our ages in halves. Back then, those milestones were important. As adults, we round. Sometimes we round up, other times, as with our ages, we round down. Of course some adults pretend to forget their ages, and others refuse to acknowledge them entirely. However, I just realized at this very moment, “the half” is important again.

It’s funny how something as basic as time becomes so critical, especially when one does not have much of it left. Or the perception of living on borrowed time comes into play.

I am one of the lucky ones. My cancer was caught early. The tumor was removed, albeit in multiple surgeries, but nevertheless, it was cut out of me. The radiation treatment afterward was otherworldly. In my opinion, the treatment and subsequent side effects were worse than the cancer. But I, like so many others, persevered. I moved forward, slowly but surely.

The scar left much deeper wounds than I anticipated. Due to the multiple surgeries, the incision did not heal properly. Even scar revision surgery did not work. For quite some time, all I saw when I looked into the mirror was that scar. I felt ugly and broken, exhausted mentally and physically.

People made unbelievable comments about my scar. “Frankenstein” came up frequently. One of the commonly used phrases was, “Well, it’s not that bad.” Never once did I ask anyone how bad my scar looked. So, the unsolicited comments made the situation worse. My brother thought their comments were as ridiculous as I did. He decided to mock them. He would joke, “Oh, it’s such a pretty scar!”

I have to say he made me laugh every time he said it. Thank you, Timmy.

Humor is how my family deals with adversity. And it helps. Tremendously. And it keeps everyone in the hospital wondering what we’re up to in our hospital room. And when the nurses and the rest of the staff started laughing, it would carry into other patients’ rooms. Laughter is contagious. And it is good for the soul. And that’s not just a line I’m trying to feed you. It works, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through those dark days without my loved ones and the laughter and mayhem they created. I can not thank my family and friends enough for their love and support, and the seemingly endless stream of “Get Well” chocolate.

Today, I am praying for each and every one of you who has been touched by cancer. I hope that you feel the love, peace, happiness and understanding that I am sending your way. All I ask in return is that you celebrate a part of each day with a little laughter, whether it is for a half an hour or a half a day. Because halves do count.

Copyright © 2014 by Suzanne Purewal