Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Happy New Year – Time To Take Down Christmas

Except for the time during my second marriage, I am probably one of many who has Christmas stuff up the shortest amount of time.  While I am flexible with putting up, perhaps a week or two before, I am firm, January 1st is more than just Happy New Year to me, it is take down the Christmas stuff.  Only retailers are quicker than me to move on to the next holiday period.  Stores are already decorated with Valentine’s Day candies and toys.

In full disclosure, I have many friends who keep their Christmas things up through January, and a good percentage of those who would keep them up year round if they could.  There is a legitimate thought by professionals, that those who struggle with the end of the Christmas holiday season, might just benefit from keeping a tree up year round.  Now I want to be clear.  I do not support this theory at all, in fact, I think it does more harm than good.  But that is just me.

The feeling is, using an artificial tree, decorating the tree with whatever current holiday season is approaching.  Again, in full disclosure, I am speaking from personal experience.  It was not my choice, but one of my two former spouses was given this idea.  We would have an Valentine’s tree, an Easter tree, a 4th of July tree, and of course the annual Christmas tree.  While pleasant to look at, I could not get around the fact, it was a Christmas tree, and IT WAS NOT CHRISTMAS!  Not even close.

To help encourage me, and not to be outdone, my favorite time of year, Halloween, there would be a Halloween tree.  Uh-oh, my shell is beginning to crack.  With a huge skull with glowing red eyes up at the top of the tree where an angel would be sitting next… it… was… kind of… cool.  Ugh, no, it cannot be.  I must not fall for it.  Christmas trees only get put up for Christmas.  I don’t care if you want to decorate in holiday wall paper and matching pajamas, NO CHRISTMAS TREES EXCEPT AT CHRISTMAS!  Seriously, how is looking at a Christmas tree decorated with Easter eggs supposed to keep your spirits up thinking about 3 months ago?

There is a reason we have a calendar.  So that we can look forward to, and enjoy the various seasons and holidays.  Hanging on to a Christmas tree and pretending it is something else is no different than me dressing up as someone famous, it is still going to be me underneath the mask.

January 1, my tree comes down, in one fourth the time it takes to put up.  And I will see it again later this year, but not less than eleven months from now.  I have Halloween to get through first.

Best Wishes For A New Year

I think the majority of us could not be more anxious to get the year 2020 over with, never to spoke of again.  Covid19 became the new worst word beginning with the letter “C”.

I was able to get some things out of 2020 that were positive.  An annual trek in January took my daughters on a detour through an actual “ghost” town, that is doing all it can at this point, at least developers anyway, to make it disappear.

A town in Pennsylvania called Centralia, famous in the area for having a coal fire burning underground for nearly 70 years, totally abandoned except for four remaining homes, had its main road closed off, deserted.  As the road no longer carried vehicles, soon vandals marred the highway, spray-painting the road until soon, it became a ritual for any visitor to the area, to leave a remnant of their visit in the form of graffiti.  This road would of course be called the “Graffiti Highway.”  Soon after our visit, the developer bulldozed dirt over the entire road, never to be seen again.  Our timing was perfect.

Another huge moment for me in 2020, was marking my 30th year, cancer free.  A party was held in my honor just before Covid started wreaking havoc.  Again, all about the timing.

Covid did take away from me as well, especially time, time with my daughters.  Until safety precautions were determined and implemented, travel back and forth was not a good idea given my vulnerabilities to the virus.

BUT, once the recommendations came out, I did manage to return to visits with my daughters again, safely, with minimal risks to each other.

2020 gave us a lot of time to think, and prepare.  We still do not know when the end point of this crisis will be, but we are now learning not only that we need to be able to move on, but how to do it safely, some would call it, “living with the virus.”  Honestly, it is not the first time we have faced a virus crisis, though clearly in my lifetime, this is the worst I have ever seen.

But here we are, finally getting to the year 2021.  And I already have so much on my calendar that I am looking forward to, Covid or not.  During this time period, I have made real progress writing my first book, based on survivorship, now two-thirds of the way finished.  I am looking forward to another great year writing this blog, and hopefully maybe making it a podcast.

Most importantly, I am looking forward to more time with my daughters.  I am so proud of how they have had to handle the diversity in regard to schooling, socialization, and more.  And they did it without complaining.  They knew the right things that had to be done.

Holy Cow!!!!  I just realized this year, I will be the father of an adult daughter.  Reality is setting in.  My emphasis on teaching and encouraging values, now turns to life survival lessons, about money and how to save it, spending wisely, negotiating, and to not be taken advantage of.  The decisions she soon faces are more serious, the rewards greater, but so are the consequences for any wrong decisions.

My younger daughter will also turn a milestone as well.  And as both of my daughters get older, they are learning more about what I have gone through in my life, through my cancer journey and beyond.  That images in the memory that make no sense, have a story behind them.  Those stories will become important to them because there will come a day, that they will need to know what I have gone through.  But that is a long way off.  I have graduations to attend and daughters to walk down the isle.

I wish everyone a Happy, Safe, and Prosperous New Year.  See you on the other side.

Marci – A True “Wonder Woman”

Wonder Woman!  Wonder Woman!
All the world is waiting for you and the power you possess
In your satin tights fighting for our rights
And the old red white and blue

Wonder Woman!
Wonder Woman!

Now the world is ready for you and the wonders you can do
Make a hawk a dove, stop a war with love
Make a liar tell the truth

Wonder Woman!
Get us out from under, Wonder Woman

All our hopes are pinned upon you, and the magic that you do
Stop a bullet cold, make the axis fold
change their minds and change the world

Wonder Woman!
Wonder Woman!

You’re a wonder, Wonder Woman!

Marci, this theme song from the 70’s super hero television show Wonder Woman was a song clearly written for you.  And for those of us who had the blessing of knowing you, our “Diana Prince,” we knew you as a true “Wonder Woman.”

This has been a difficult year for so many reasons, but toughest made by yet another passing of a fellow long term Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor.  Grief has been piling and piling on top over the last several months, normally occurring over a year instead.

Marci’s passing has affected me differently though.  The impact that she had on me, the way she lived her life, while clearly sad for the loss of a good friend, she “wrote” an amazing story with her life.

For many of us, treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back before the turn of the century, especially during the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, treatments were barbaric, and often considered by today’s standards, experimental in value, because though they worked, the long term effects that would develop, were never researched, leaving many of us struggling not only to find care for these issues, but even finding a doctor willing to try.  These issues could be minor, or quite severe.  Some might have been fortunate, not to have developed any.  Sadly, Marci had been one to develop serious issues which I won’t go into detail here, other than a few appropriate places.

But it is the way that Marci always presented herself, a common personality trait of a Hodgkin’s survivor, only presenting the “shell” of what we are dealing with as it is hard enough for us to deal with.  But Marci, she was one of a kind.

To describe Marci as colorful, is an understatement.  Marci and I first met several years ago on a support page for survivors of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I could tell she was going to bring a lot of life to our group.

Though out of privacy, I am not posting pictures of her family, she had a large family that she loved very much.  She also loved her pugs and activities abound.  One art project she was working on, actually a cross-over, was a jeep that was being decorated to reflect her persona of Wonder Woman.

Marci started this with our group long ago, and many group members jumped on that bandwagon, encouraging her, as our “wonder woman.”

This photo was from a post that I sent to her a month ago, as I was driving here in Florida, immediately making me think of her.

Sadly, Marci faced many issues from her Hodgkin’s past.  One of which was a battle with colon cancer.  This left her as a colostomy survivor as well.  But in case you could not tell from the above picture, Marci even managed to rock that situation in her own style, with her own “wonder woman” pouch.  Only Marci could pull that off.

And in spite of dealing with her own issues, as is coming among us Hodgkin’s survivors, she took time to help and support others advocating for childhood cancer and colon cancer.

Marci, you were truly one of a kind, with emphasis on the word “kind.”  And sadly, we know that “Wonder Woman” was mortal after all.  But all that you gave to us, especially to remember by, will be a blessing that will last forever.

“Wonder Woman!
Wonder Woman!

You’re a wonder, Wonder Woman!”

Post Navigation