Time is flying by. It’s been eight weeks since I had my total hysterectomy and I’m actually finding it hard to believe I had anything done, other than the nicely healing scars on my stomach. Hitting the eight week mark is a big deal because it means I’m no longer under any restrictions. I can lift things, I can take a bath, I can go to one of the places I like to relax and soak and sauna, I can have sex (maybe that’s tmi, but let’s get real, it’s a fact of life), and I no longer have to fear any of the possible worst-case scenario things that might have gone wrong after surgery. I did it. I’m free and clear and it was actually not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I think because we prepared for all of the possibilities we’d heard about or read about, it was a huge relief when none of them happened. Whew!
Tonight I prepared a bath with a blend of sea salts from around the world, epsom salt, and some of each of the essential oils that I’ve been using under the guidance of a friend that help folks with cancer. *In case you are wondering, I use Frankincense and Geranium oil.* I started out listening to my Indigo Girls Pandora station, but during the second song, Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery”, the wifi connection cut out. Sigh. Talk about a mood killer. I was just starting to relax and had to dry my hands and open itunes instead. I scanned my album options and decided on Beck’s Sea Change, an album that I’ve been listening to a lot lately.
It was really nice to lay in the warm water, smelling the oils, while thinking about how quickly time has been passing. Tomorrow is chemo treatment number six. Wowzers. That means I have twelve weeks left. That may seem like a lot, but I’m a third of the way through treatment. I’m stoked. I also found myself thinking about a conversation my wife and I had just had, about a possible road trip in August across the country, to visit my late-grandmother’s house before my Aunt sells it. My mom recently told me that someone had shown interest in buying the old family farm and I realized that my grandmother’s belongings that had remained after her passing would most likely be lost when that happened.
I’m interested in seeing what still remains of the lives of the women who came before me. Because I am genetically linked to my great-grandmother who died from endometrial cancer at the age of twenty-one, this has become and even more important mission. She never lived in the house, but my she lived down the street and my grandmother and mother both did. That house and its contents are all that I have left of that part of my genetic history.
I am hoping to retrieve certain items to bring back with me. My grandmother made most of her clothing, as well as quilts from those dresses once they had worn out. There will be photos and hopefully paperwork or letters of some kind. It is a bit of a treasure hunt, because I haven’t been there since I was 13 and I’m going to be 47 this month. As I am planning a series of work around the subject of my cancer and the women in my family, I feel I need to do this. I feel I need closure on that part of my life, on the place where my brother and I were forced to spend every summer when we were growing up.
Many memories have been flooding back to me ever since we started discussing this journey. No one in their right mind wants to go to the south in the summer time. It means horrendously humid heat and there is no air conditioning at my grandmother’s house. I remember it well. I was that fat kid who just sat and couldn’t stop sweating, no matter what I wore or what I did. It was awful. I also have pleasant memories of eating sweet watermelon in the backyard and watching my mom and Uncle sprinkle salt on it. My cousins and I would forage for blackberries and return scratched up, but proud. My mom would make blackberry cobbler and we would sit around the kitchen table and eat it with vanilla ice milk. I also have fond memories of sitting on the concrete porch and the porch swing, where we would spend endless hours chatting or listening to thunder storms when they rolled in.
In this place in time, I am focusing on those positive memories. I’m allowing myself to be sentimental and thinking only of my connection to these women who I either never knew at all, my great-grandmother, Laura Ann, or the woman who was so serious she scared me into avoiding her as a child, my grandmother, Maggie May. What is important to me now is the link between us and the genetics and history we share. I want to acknowledge them, the place where my mom grew up, and where I am from. I want to stand on that porch one more time and listen as a thunder storm rolls in. I want to marvel at the red clay road that leads to the house, take some beautiful photographs, and then say goodbye. Fingers crossed, we’re going to make it happen.