First Day back in Memphis

A busy day.  An early day.  Sidney had bloodwork, IV, doctor appointments, thyroid scan, renal scan, MRI of his brain, anesthesia AND a bit of surgery to install a port in his chest.

The anesthesia team gave me paper clothes and a paper cap to wear and let me follow Sidney back to the anesthesia room.  They put an oxygen mask on Sidney, which inspired him to sing “Love is like Oxygen.”  The anesthesia crew were thoroughly entertained, especially after they put the sleepy medicine in Sidney’s IV.  He felt it coming and interrupted his singing just long enough to say, “Oh, I feel that.  I’m getting drowsy.  Good night.”

His eyelids closed and I was allowed to give him a kiss.  I resisted the temptation to abuse my power and shower him with kisses.

We ran into many familiar faces, from the receptionist who wished Sidney had not missed yesterday’s karaoke to several of our favorite patients.  Every turn connected us to smiles, gentle spirits and encouragment.



That was yesterday’s theme.  It hurt and we bled.  And one of us had memory loss — Sid called me an hour or so after Sidney and I left.  He could not remember us actually leaving, though he had helped me pack the car, hugged me before I got in, hovered close while I hugged our other children and stood in the driveway watching us drive off.

I guess stress reveals itself in different ways.  We also cope in different ways.

I cope by remembering, which is ironic because I have a terrible memory.  That is why I write — to remember.  And these are the memories I sifted as I made that 10 hour drive to Memphis . . .

eating supper with six of us around the table again

Cello music in the house

sorting through hand-me-downs with the girls, creating piles of out-grown clothes and hanging up clothes that fit

kayaking on the Sound with my husband

baking cookies

violin music in the house

eating too much ice cream together while we watched Once Upon A Time

Sid and I crying while we danced in the kitchen, cookies baked in the oven and the sun set over the Sound

sitting on the deck at the beach house and tracking the curvature of the earth

sitting on the deck at the beach house and watching the sun set over the sound, then jumping up really fast to try “catching” the sun so we could watch it set a 2nd time

Sid and I sitting on opposite ends of the beach house, he reading Amy-Jill Levine, me reading Peter Gomes

Rachel finding a blue crab

Lincoln washing dishes and singing, drawing Prairie into song with him

music lessons

teaching spanish pronunciation during family school

Lincoln’s birthday

Clarinet music in the house

Lots of singing in the house, especially 2 brothers harmonizing


Y’all, I’m ready to get this kid home

Sidney had a busy day yesterday.  St. Jude often has something fun going on.  It helps patients pass the time when there are long minutes and hours between appointments.  We all know my son is not shy and doesn’t particularly worry about looking uncool or being dorky.

He had never done karaoke before, so he didn’t know the words were on the screen 3 feet in front of him.  He sang from memory.


It is amazing how much more balance he has now, though you can tell it is still challenging for him to squat low and maintain balance.  Clearly, his energy levels have increased.



The little girl in the wheelchair is Abby.  She is 11 yo, right between my 12 yo Rachel and 10 yo Prairie.  Sidney hangs out a lot with Abby, eating meals, playing card games and gets his little sister fix.  Ha — I just discovered something that irritates my easy-going Sidney —  himself singing off-key.  He is thankful he realized and corrected it.  By this time, he knew the screen had the words, so you can see him squinting and closing one eye, trying to read the screen.  His vision has improved a lot, but he often wears the the eye-patch for reading and convincing small kids that he is a pirate.


Mystifying friendship

From Memphis with love . . .

Several years ago, maybe 5 or so, I attended a 2-day workshop for homeschooling moms.  I met a lovely lady named Michelle.  It was one of those rare, instant connections, a recognition of another heart that gets your heart.  I knew the moment she nonchalantly squeezed the dead cow’s eyeball in my direction, while pretending to seriously focus on note-taking.  We laughed a lot together and enjoyed many talks.   At the end of that workshop, I hugged her goodbye and sadly assumed that I would never see her again. She was a busy mom.  I was a busy mom.  We live about 3 hours apart and life happens.

To my surprise, Michelle called me not long after and drove that long 3 hours with her 3 little daughters to see me.  I was thrilled to reconnect with her, meet her beautiful daughters and introduce her to my children.  We spent a lovely day together and I regretted the need to let her go back home.  I hoped to one day visit her, but you know . . .the 3 hour drive and life.

Several years passed and Michelle stumbled onto the news of Sidney’s tumor.  She emailed me and planned another visit —this time, an approximate 11-hour drive to Memphis Tennessee.  So I met Michelle a third time.

That is not a normal heart.  That is a selfless and faithful heart and I am blessed, though also perplexed, she chose to count me a friend.  I’ve never gotten in the car and driven to see her, never sent her a birthday card or even kept up with her.  I either don’t talk much or I get nervous, swing the other way and talk too much, jumping right into tough, even awkward topics.  Unlike some people in my family, I don’t connect with people quickly.

But this friend overlooked my little oddities and hung in there beyond time and distance.  To top it off, she brought along one of her other friends, Kris.  I only got to hang out with Michelle and Kris for a few hours.  But I have a feeling Kris could be another one of those special, rare friends too.  They left Sidney and I both smiling and happy.  Isn’t that one of the best goals we can have?  To leave other people smiling and happy?

I don’t know all of God’s plans in this cancer muckiness, but I know he is blessing us many, many times over.

epic adventure text

From Memphis with love . . .

Far away in North Carolina, my husband sunk to new lows of oblivion.  Or wife torture.  I am still debating the possibles.

Meanwhile, my youngest daughter created a new art form.   She is 10 yo and doesn’t know that texting is meant for necessary information in-the-moment.  Thus, Prairie has developed epic adventure texting, which is exactly what it sounds like — she turns the goings-on at home into an epic length adventure with her thumbs.

Allow me to set the stage and tell the story . . .

Setting:  Memphis and Home

Cast of Characters:

Sid:  the oblivious husband or a villain in disguise who tortures his wife with limited, ill-timed information while maniacally laughing to himeself ? – the reader decides;  he is at home in NC

Tina:  the patient and ever-loving wife of Sid, mother of Sidney, Lincoln, Rachel and Prairie, currently living far from home in Memphis

Sidney:  17 yo son in Memphis with his mom

Lincoln:  14 yo son living at home with his dad, Sid

Rachel:  12 yo daughter living at home with her dad, Sid

Prairie:  10 yo daughter living at home with her dad, Sid

Late one evening, Tina checks her phone before going to bed and sees an hour old text message from her husband.  Expecting a lovely good night, instead she reads . . .

Sid:  We just had some excitment here tonight.

Tina returns the text:  What?!!?

No response.  Sid has gone to bed.

What kind of “excitement” could her husband and 3 children have 1 hour after their typical bedtime?  she wondered.

Tina mumbles and grumbles as she gets ready for bed.  Why did Sid have to be so all-fired mysterious?

Next morning, Prairie sends a text to Tina.

Prairie:          This is Prairie.

Do not scream, mama. But our 🏡 got flooded. Well….not really.  Let me tell you the whole story:

I had put my laundry in the washer and went under the covers with Rachel behind me.  We went to bed and I started to tell her a story when the alarm on the washing machine turned on.  Rachel got up to investigate while I stayed under the covers.    

A few seconds later she comes in the room and says to me:  “The washing machine door isn’t closed all the way.”

 I gulp.  “Is there a lot of water?”

 “Maybe,” she said.  I followed her and gasped.

 There was water dripping out of the washing machine.  Rachel tried to open the door, but it was locked.

 “Your mess,” Rachel said.  I snatched some rags and pressed them on the drips.  The drips came down fast like slithering snakes as I pulled back my fingers in dismay.

 “The water is hot!” I cried.  “What are we going to do?”

 “I don’t know!” Rachel answered.

 I frowned.  “Let’s try opening the machine again,” I suggested.  Rachel pulled hard on the door and tugged.  Finally, the washing machine burst open.  The drips disappeared, and instead, water poured out.  I don’t mean just a little bit of water, I mean ALOT of water!  It poured out like an exploding waterfall!  And it spread along the hallway, in the parents’ room, in the bathroom, and down the stairs.  Water leaked through the walls and in the basement.  

I ran in my room to grab my robe as I screamed to the top of my lungs. Daddy and Lincoln came out.

 Boy, we made a good team!  We grabbed towels and cloth and wiped down the floors hard, and Daddy was the one who discovered the water in the basement, and there was water in the dining room.

Turns out, that this was none of our faults!  The water in the washing machine was very high.  Daddy plans to check on it today.

 It was scary but pretty adventurous.

Tina laughs so hard she is crying.  Then she reads the text aloud to her Sidney who laughs so hard, he is almost crying.



People seem to doubt me when I say that Sidney and I laugh a lot.  If they only knew — the stories I don’t have time write, the stories I’m not allowed to write because my family would be disgruntled.

But there are a lot of good stories, a lot of good reasons to laugh almost every single day.