Apparently, I should have called this Elic's Thoughts of the Year. I beg your apologies. I've had many thoughts about things I could write about...and then I never get to do it. Lots of things get in my way...but the biggest is the fact that I don't make the time to do it. So...for that, I'm sorry.
Most of you likely know by now that on May 29 (and what was supposed to be a lovely birthday of massages and facials) my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer. She has a tumor in the left parietal lobe of her brain, located right in the middle of her speech and vision centers. Turns out, headaches can be a harbinger of something much, much more problematic. Thankfully, the tumor explains what we thought were 'strokes,' because of its location. However, it also means that tomorrow morning, she will be having major neurosurgery.
The path of getting to her diagnosis was a long time coming. My mom actually had been having miagraines and tunnel vision for several years back in the mid-80's and early 90's. Her doctors were finally able to stop them in the early 90's. However, when these started anew, she thought something was wrong, but wasn't sure what. Her doctors this time told her she was having ministrokes, similar to what she'd been having twenty years ago. It went on until about a month ago, when she had a headache so severe that she couldn't walk, or leave the bed. My dad put his foot down, and she went to her doctor the following Monday. He demanded an immediate MRI, which happened the following Saturday - May 29.
I've had lots of folks say to me, "What a crappy way to spend a birthday!" Yes, it was. There's no denying that it was more depressing than the birthday I spent in Burlington after graduating college (I graduated a week before I turned 22) and nobody did anything. I was right by myself. Ugh. But you know what? I look at it like this...I could have spent my 33rd birthday in a funeral home. Being able to spend it with my mom in the emergency room, being there for her when her doctor told her she had cancer...there's no replacing that.
Having this happen to my mom...and to some degree, to me and the rest of my family, as well...has really opened my eyes to the support system around me. At first, she wanted to keep it quiet. Well...that's all fine and good until you tell someone and don't say, "Keep your mouth shut." I told exactly two people in Franklinton, both of whom I can trust with Fort Knox. My mom, on the other hand...she told the world inadvertently. By Tuesday morning, the phone calls started. I had planned to work in the Vine Street house (that's a whole other post) all day that day...and got up and dressed for it. Turns out, I spent most of the day trying to intervene so folks that I'm close to wouldn't hear it out on Main Street...or any of the other WRAL-like institutions that exist in my fair community. All joking aside...that experience is how you know what love feels like.
Twenty years ago this August, my mom's mom was killed in her kitchen by a man who used to mow her lawn. It was very public, very publicized, and very wide-open for lack of a better term. I've always been used to everything I do, and everything that happens in my family, being public knowledge. But I also know how this community can pull together to support one another in a time of need. That happened again in the days following the Memorial Day weekend diagnosis.
I came to Town Hall (still under my mom's orders to keep things quiet, I was being very specific in talking to my colleagues and friends here at Town Hall so they would know before people came in and asked about the First Mother. :) Raymond Bragg, whose daughter Jennifer had had a similar operation last year, not only was very sympathetic, but also made sure that Jennifer knew it so we had a shoulder to lean on, and a voice of experience. I am so thankful for all of you who have reached out to make sure we knew you were there...right down to Jackie Hedrick-Oakley, who will not hesitate to tell you that my mom was her first friend in Franklinton, and she will never forget that.
So...surgery is tomorrow. I'll post updates on my Facebook page, so that's your best best to keep up to date. I'll try to do better in posting here...but don't hold me to it. :)