Here we go. Another year, another decade, another rambling mash-up…

Before I launch, though, thank you for the fierce outpouring of support after last month’s blog post. My sweet friend, Deb Suss, mailed me a card intended to help get me out of my December slump. If someone asked me to develop a list of the nicest people I know, Deb would absolutely be at the top. She is a delightful, loving, kind soul.

“[We] hope this card helps warm that December chill,” she wrote. “And hoping that your loving memories of Enzo warm your heart.” But it was the last two sentences of the card that turned on my faucet of tears:

Not everyone can handle things the way you can. While you wonder sometimes if you’re doing okay…the rest of us are just watching in WONDER.

Thank you to Deb and her husband, Paul, for their kind-hearted gesture. I am extremely grateful for our friendship.

***

Rene and I were fortunate to have the week between Christmas and New Year’s off from work again this year. We started off our magical week by attending the children’s service at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch on Christmas Eve. Afterward, we went to Outback Steakhouse, intending to share our once-a-year Bloomin’ Onion, also known in our household as a cholesterol IV. Instead, we went the healthy route, opting for salad, steak and veggies at 2:30 p.m. and didn’t feel a need to eat the rest of the day. That night, after driving around our neighborhood to view Christmas lights in our pajamas, we watched The Homecoming, the Christmas Eve movie that launched The Waltons TV series. Middle age rocks!

Over the past few days, I reflected on a fast-paced year. Here are some highlights:

In June, Rene and I had a wonderfully long-overdue visit from my best friend from Elba High School, Wendy (Ingerle) Johnson, who is the first female in the state of Nebraska to achieve the rank of Brigadier General (that’s one star) in the Nebraska Air National Guard. Wendy has already been recommended for her second star, to be a Major General. She is still as thoughtful and pleasant and wicked smart as she was when we were in high school, and I am incredibly honored to call her a dear friend.

Interest in psycho-oncology continues to rise at a feverish pace. The lack of training resources and mental health services available to those experiencing cancer-related trauma was disappointing and infuriating to me five years ago. So, I lit my little match and continue to fan the flames as time permits.

Each of my three siblings experienced major health-related events—all in one three-day stretch in August. Thankfully, they are doing well now.

wendy johnson

My first book was released in early February. Seriously? Enough already. Even I am tired of hearing about it.

One of many positive outcomes of the book is the ongoing opportunity to meet amazing survivors who live like never before, advocating and expressing themselves through a lens that a cancer experience uniquely offers.

Through all this, the love of my life was a trooper, taking photos, carrying boxes, coordinating the repair of the latest failing house appliance, or putting gas in my car. Thank you, Rene, for your patience, support, and encouragement that helps me to keep moving forward.

As we clink our virtual champagne glasses, a final farewell to a few individuals to whom we said goodbye over the past year:

  • John Singleton, who directed Boyz n the Hood, a timely movie released in the early 1990s that provided a prolific look at coming of age in drug- and gang-infested south-central Los Angeles. The movie is shocking, raw, tender, and significant.
  • Doris Day, America’s girl next door, who my father-in-law, Pop, adored. She seemed to set the example of “wholesome” during her heyday. Later on, she became an advocate for animals, establishing the Doris Day Animal Foundation. During our New Hampshire trip in October, we talked about Doris Day with Rene’s parents, and Rene’s mother, Josie, recalled that Doris Day’s son was a record producer who had a brief association with Charles Manson before the Manson murders were committed in August 1969.
  • Daryl Dragon, who was The Captain from Captain and Tennille. They provided us with some corny songs, but he was a talented musician. Try keeping Love Will Keep Us Together out of your head for the rest of today.
  • Larry Garron, who played professional football for the Boston Patriots from 1960 to 1968 and still holds several team records for today’s New England Patriots. Larry was a fullback who studied various forms of martial arts and later earned a doctorate degree. My brother-in-law, Andre, is Larry’s son who is also a former NFL player (KC Chiefs). In April 2016, Rene and I attended the wedding of AJ (Rene’s nephew and Andre’s son) and Kelsey Garron in Chichester, New Hampshire. After the ceremony, I was honored to meet and sit next to Larry at the reception. My hair was about two inches long, and Larry congratulated me on finishing treatment four months before. We chatted at length about his post-football career, particularly his love of education. I will never forget his words that will forever inspire me. “Diane,” he said, “never stop learning. Never, ever stop learning.”

Happy all year,

January 2, 2020

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Here we go. Another year, another decade, another rambling mash-up… Before I launch, though, thank you for the fierce outpouring of support after last month’s blog […]
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