One of my adult daughters was in town the other day. They ran into someone who casually knows our family. They were talking and the topic of me came up. The inevitable question came up, “How’s your mom doing?”.
I’ve told you before that the “How’s your mom doing?” question is always kind of hard on my kids. They never quite know if this is a reference to being a young widow or about my ongoing issues with thyroid cancer. So they all stumble through with some sort of answer and are again reminded that I have cancer.
This person went on to say it’s really nice that I am able to have to watch grandkids occasionally so I have “something to do”. HA!! If they only knew how often I watch grandkids…how often I have crazy days filled with family like you have all been reading about recently…how I’m fostering pups…how much I host family here…how much I sew, garden, and cross stitch. I’m not a person who ever will need to worry about “having something to do”.
As a family, we completely and totally ignore my health issues until we absolutely can’t…like the day before I go back for a check-up. Everyone in the family treats me completely and totally normal day to day. So much so that we end up with crazy days filled to the brim. I love it.
I had a sweet blog reader write that she was afraid I was overdoing it. I have family here so much. I have the dogs and now fostering dogs. She thought I’m just too busy and not taking care of myself. She was sure I needed to slow down.
That is two completely different perspectives…I have a casual friend who… doesn’t read the blog worried but happy I have something to keep myself busy who has no idea I am actually busy and I have blog readers who are concerned that I don’t slow down because they see by reading the blog I am truly busy.
Here’s the long and short on my health issues. Right now, I’m sitting about as good as I can with my cancer. I’m not in remission. I will never be but my case looks about the best it has in five years. Outside of the really crappy first few months of this year during treatment, I’ve felt completely normal. I don’t have pain. I don’t have tiredness or fatigue due to cancer. I’m really a pretty normal 56-year-old woman even though I do have cancer.
However, I am fully aware that the likelihood that my cancer is just hiding out for a while and will come back is a real possibility and in reality, likely. They will likely be able to do some kind of treatment again…but they might not be able to. I am pretty certain I won’t see my 80s, and might not see my 70s but I’m feeling a little more confident that I will make it to my 60s…even that isn’t guaranteed.
I follow a couple of Facebook groups that are for people with my type of cancer. Things there aren’t pretty. They talk about meds and reactions to meds that make a person wonder if they want to even try the meds because the side effects are TERRIBLE. I’ve already talked to my kids and told them, I might try the drugs if it comes to that, but if my quality of life isn’t good…I’ll quit taking them and die peacefully. I won’t put them through that and I won’t put myself through that.
Now I’m feeling good. I’m happy. I don’t want to live my life resting and sitting on the couch…If my cancer kicks back in and things get ugly, I’ll have plenty of time for that then.
Right now I want to be active. I want to live my life with a full gas tank. I want to see my kids and my grandkids as much as I can.
Back when I was in my 20s my husband and I talked and decided I would be the stay-at-home mom. He’d work extra so I could. We quickly learned, for us, that worked. We didn’t mind forgoing vacations and doing things ourselves rather than hiring things out. The kids and our family were at the very top of the list of things we want from life. Yes, there were sacrifices along the way but they were totally worth it because now, I am reaping the benefit of it all.
Yes, my stuff gets set aside often but that is the way I’ve lived my entire life having my kids call me…having close relationships with them…having close relationships with our grandkids…ALL WORTH IT.
I want my family. I want the grandkids. I want everything that comes with it…even the crazy days…the days that don’t go as planned…the days when my stuff gets set aside.
The reality of it all is that if I die tomorrow, my grandkids are so young that they likely won’t remember me much…I want to pack every minute in with them that I can in hopes that they will remember time spent at my house…grandma’s pizza…grandma’s puppies…and being at my house but mostly a feeling that they were deeply loved.
I love that my home is the gathering place for everyone.
Here Karl and Carver are playing a new game I got. They just love it. I’ll tell you more about it in an upcoming blog post. I love that we all, young and old hang out together.
Besides, if I’m busy I sleep better at night. I don’t miss my husband as much. I don’t feel alone. The trade-off is WONDERFUL!!
I so appreciate the blog reader watching out for me. It was so sweet that you took the time to write and tell me you cared about me. I thank you for that…but I’ll take a day wild and crazy over a day on the couch any day. I’ll take family time over me time. Long ago at the start of the “Kramer family”, Kramer and I decided -family first…It was a decision for us both that will last our lifetimes.
Oh my goodness. Anyone who’s been reading your blog for a few years knows full-well you do anything and everything you want to do and with a smile on your face that is in pictures regularly. Not to mention that you are FAR from old. Aren’t you only near 50? The joy comes through your words on your blog every day.
I so love your ‘tude on your cancer. It will not beat you into sadness :-)
Always kind in replies and willing to share the hard stuff along with the good . Love you Jo for being you.
Jo, I love your attitude!
You have to do what’s right for you and your family, but we worry about it all. Just sending in hugs and the power of prayer.
One of the reasons your blog has so many faithful followers is that you are a positive person. You don’t hide from the ugly side of life, but you are doing your very best to walk on the sunny side of the street. Even when you do venture into the shadows, you honestly tell us about it and how you got back out into the sunshine!!! Your family is essential to your health and well-being!! You need them and they need you, and that you all love spending time together working and playing is such a blessing!!! You are happily busy loving on them and being creative, both feed your inner being. Thanks for being an optimistic realist or a realistic optimist, your crazy, hectic life being lived to the very fullest is a lesson to all of us.
That’s so right – you never have a bad word about anyone. In this day and age we look for people like you. I’m glad you don’t feel stressed from having so many around all the time. (That would stress me – I get very tired when I have extras here, but I’m 85 – I should be stressed!) Keep up your good spirits and your great attitude, but just remember that if you need a nap or something just GET IT!! If you aren’t well you can’t take care of others well.
Well said, Susan :) She’s very blessed in so many ways and she knows it. She’s a great inspiration to many…including myself.
Well said, Susan!
It is something to realize losing a partner is still part of your life plan and that you will follow. It is consoling to have talked about how you want things to go. My grandchildren are now in their teens . I had a minor stroke which made me reaffirm that I too will be joining my husband. I discussed my wishes on different occasions and in the presence of my older teenagers. i stated in a conversation, I was ready if my maker called. A few days later, my daughter said, ” Mom, you need to clarify that for the kids. They think you are giving up.” So, we sat down, I explained to them, though I am ready, I am prepared spiritually and have my affairs in line, but not “ready” to give up. I fully hope to see great grandchildren if the Lord is willing. So I am a little careful with how I state things now. I am so glad for you, that you are able to spend that time with those grandbabies. They grow up so fast.
I agree with you Jo. I too want to spend all the time I can with my children, grandchildren, and siblings. Time is short and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for any of us. I remember a baseball broadcaster saying that a certain player was on the day-to-day list for playing. His partner replied that we’re all on the day-to-day list. This saying has stuck with me for the last 30 years.
You are amazing.
I love how busy you are with your family! That is so special! If you still had your hubby, you would probably want it differently, but being alone this is perfect! So enjoy yourself! Don’t worry about when you get to 70…..enjoy today! Love you and your blog!
Beautifully written, Jo! Thanks for sharing.
The one thing (of many) that makes me look forward to reading your blog is your great outlook on life. Yes, you have cancer, but it doesn’t dominate you. It is so very important that you continue with the activities that keep you going and your family is such a big part of that. Keep doing what you are doing for as long as you can. Your family is important and I love hearing about and seeing pictures of them. None of us is promised tomorrow.
I agree with absolutely everything in this post – your attitude to life, family, cancer treatments, all of it. The reason I love reading your blogs is because of your wonderful outlook on life, and how you live your life. How you don’t let the “darker” aspects of life define you. I enjoy reading about your family and all the going’s on. You truly are an inspiration, and you have shown me that, should I become a widow myself at any point (not saying it’s going to happen anytime soon, but you never know), it is still possible to forge a meaningful and happy life, alongside the grieving. Thank you for your example, Jo, and God bless you.
You said it well. We do what we can while we can. Great message for all your readers!
Wonderful — and I want to say “AMEN –exactly the same thing here”–I keep going each day as long as I can -and then yes, I SIT down–but I”m still doing something–even though it might just be reading– more likely writing letters. There are too many things I want to DO -even though I’m 3 months from that 85th b’day. I think somedays reading your blog—“whew” slow down Jo–but am sure that isn’t going to happen and more power to you!!
Yes you’re the only one who can live your life and make the very best for you. It’s awesome to see how close your family is and pulls together. It’s evident in all the photos you take of The Whole family and how they are compassionate to one another. When I was paralyzed on one side because of MS, they put me on some horrible meds with side effects. I didn’t want that to be the rest of my life either. I put my trust in God and He has brought me through. Even with what I call “reminders of where I’ve been”. I know it was the right choice. Like you – you know how you want each day to be. I think your readers are just so amazed that you are determined to accomplish and make each moment count. None of us are promised another day and that’s why it’s important to make sure we leave nothing undone. And I’m sure your grand babies will always know who you are – and the great grands too. But I do understand as my youngest granddaughter is 8 and I doubt I’ll be here for her wedding. But still plan on it and let God do the rest.
Keep going, Jo. You’re healthy attitude will take you a long way!! Nothing like family. Every minute w/them is SO important!!
Jo, You are a wonderful role model for your family. I take inspiration from your attitude to life as it always reminds me to not sweat the small stuff and give more space to my inner being which loves to connect with family and friends. Power to you!
Having a good attitude goes a long way! My husband and I also believe in having our home be a gathering place for our family. I keep our grandson as needed, our kids drop by on a moments notice and that’s okay. We host holiday get togethers and I hope some day my grandkids remember them fondly. Love your blog!
Jo, your precious family will keep you always in their hearts and you will continue to be the amazing mom, grandma and mother-in-law that we love to watch, crazy days and all! You are very blessed and you know it! That is special and I am thankful that you share your crazy, busy but important life things with us. I have never met you in person but I care about you and all of your family because you have shared your heart with us on this blog. That is something few people do, especially people who blog a lot! You are one of a kind and that is why we all love you. I am glad you have those that love you and care about you but I am especially glad that you have a family that puts each other first and supports one another through thick and thin. You are doing amazing things Jo Kramer. Keep going and trusting that Jesus will give you all the energy you need each day. Many blessings on you and your family. K-
Sometimes “how is your mom doing” is simply a question in general, something conversational, nothing to do with cancer or being a widow. I’d reply “She’s doing great, enjoying her grandkids, and staying as busy as she wants to be.” Isn’t it nice that people care? (And, it’s wonderful that every word of that response would be true of your life right now)
I totally agree with you. I get people asking me all the time “How is your Mom?” I just say, she’s great and I move on to say something else. She’s in good health, just elderly. I think it’s just a conversation starter for some people.
Totally agree with you Jo. I love the craziness of life with children and grandkids, and having so many creative outlets for ourselves. Have a wonderful day!
Good Morning Jo – everyone has pretty much said what I wanted to say.
So, I’ll just say you are loved with an everlasting love, and thank you for your wonderful outlook and love of life.
With much love and prayers
Jo, I feel the same way. Kick cancer to the curb and live life to the fullest! Enjoy what is most important to you…family! Other things are just that THINGS. People and the relationships we maintain are what life is about. Enjoy! L
Jo, you are remarkably alive. You know who you are and what you need. You give and give and give. And it looks like you receive what you need. I love that you are going to keep on living and not give up! I love the example you give me on setting boundaries where needed, on doing little things that add up to big blessings for others, of just being you! Thanks for sharing your journey.
Beautifully said and I felt every heartfelt word of your post. Blessings to you Jo!
Agree with Family First and your positive attitude! Enjoy the crazy, busy life and keep your eyes focused forward! God bless you and your family!
We all so appreciate this post for its honesty and beautiful attitude toward life – even the difficult things. Thank you for sharing your life so openly, for sharing your creativity, and letting your light shine. It’s a powerful light!
Your blog is my #1 because you are authentic and write about the real stuff of life. So refreshing. Here’s a big THANK YOU!!
I’m 100 percent with you. Time isn’t guaranteed so time with family and grand kids is so important.
Jo I’ve been wondering if you had reached that point in dealing with your life’s realities. You are strong enough that you have taken the time to privately mourn knowing you won’t be an old lady. It tears you up inside there’s a good chance your grandkids won’t remember you. But you are strong and you’re going to make as many memories with those you love as humanly possible. So much of what you wrote in this blog is a reflection of my life though I have medical issues other than cancer. I know I’m thankful for each day I have. For those who haven’t been faced with this life reality this is not a negative comment. Sorry but I don’t have Jo’s gift writing to explain better.
Proud of you! So thrilled your mindset and attitude are focused and healthy. I had a heart attack 4 years ago from 2 collapsed arteries. Had to be shocked back into living. My family and grandkids are why I work hard at cardiac rehab three times a week, changed everything I could. That is why I push so hard to make quilts for comfort to give away. I hate when people tell me to slow down and sit on the couch. I love to read about your family.
Jo, You are a great example of living life fully. People often think that a cancer diagnosis makes you “a person battling cancer”. And that’s true but its not who you are. You have cancer, you deal with it but you don’t let it take away the joy you feel in your family and your life. I know your community. You live in a great area with great people. You have a loving supportive family and are blessed with a great support system. Bravo for showing us all that you aren’t defined by a diagnosis! May you continue to be blessed. Jo