Do More Than You Think

breath of hope

How would you feel if you were told that your mother, your sister, your wife, your daughter, or your best girlfriend had 10 years left to live? And over the course of those 10 years, you would watch the life literally be sucked out of her as she would endure a debilitating battle to simply…. breathe.

That’s what I was told in 2011, that I would watch my 34 year old sister die a long, slow, cruel death.

We were shocked and heartbroken. Would she even see her oldest daughter graduate from high school? What would her quality of life look like? Even then she was already struggling to climb a flight of stairs and walk beside her daughter as she learned to ride a bike.

That was before we heard about the LAM Foundation. Even as we were hearing this devastating diagnosis, the LAM Foundation was finishing its funding of clinical trials on the first!! drug proven to slow the progression of LAM cells in some patients.

When we attended LAMposium (sponsored by the LAM Foundation) two months after Becky’s diagnosis, we were given a Breath of Hope. We learned about this exciting drug, connected with other LAM patients and families, and dialogued with world renowned doctors and scientists who believe they are on the verge of major scientific breakthroughs, not only for LAM, but also for cancer and other diseases of the lungs.

But those doctors and scientists need funding provided by the LAM Foundation to continue their research. And the LAM Foundation needs funding provided by… people like you and me.

HOWEVER, this time, I’m not asking you to reach for your wallet. My sister is a finalist in a national essay contest, Do More Than You Think, where she wrote about the LAM Foundation, and we can simply vote the LAM Foundation to the prize of $100,000.

Go to the link below and click on “The LAM Foundation” entry by Rebecca N. of PA. The foundation/essay with the most votes on March 14, 2014 will be awarded $100,000. You can vote once a day, EVERY DAY until the end of the contest. Please use one minute of your day to give women around the world like my sister a Breath of Hope.

Thank You!

www.domorethanyouthink.com/contest/vote

My Sister and I at LAM Convention - 2011
LAMposium 2011

(The first time you vote, you will receive an email to confirm you’re not a robot. Please confirm by clicking the link in the email – or your vote will not count! You may need to check your spam folder for this confirmation email… I had to. In subsequent days, you’ll just need to enter your email address when you vote.)

“That” Mom on Valentine’s Day

Yes, today I was “that” mom…. or as close to it as I’ll ever come.

You know the kind… the mom who makes her kids homemade valentines trimmed with the lace she crocheted in wee hours of the morning by candlelight…

Or the mom who pours colored pancake batter into her empty ketchup bottle, the one which she has waited for months to clean out for the sole purpose of spelling out the words “I LOVE YOU” with red batter for her hungry children to devour on Valentine’s Day morning…

Or the mom who spends half the morning making cherry and chocolate scented play dough, and then spends the rest of the morning with her kids, molding chocolate teddy bears holding cherry hearts while using a toothpick to inscribe the words “Luv U” on each heart. 

(Believe me… my hat is off to “that” mom. One year, I sat with both kids while they made their own valentines for each child in their respective preschool classes…. pure torture.)

I’m not normally “that” mom. While rummaging through the candy cupboard (yes, a whole shelf, devoted to candy—you can judge), Alice and I recently discovered a box of conversation hearts… from last year… at least I’m hoping it was last year.

box

The box was about half-full, which is a favorable sign that I actually gave it to one of my offspring. (I personally detest said candy, so it wasn’t me who was eating them.) This has been the standard Valentine’s Day around here…. a box of candy hearts presented to each child at some point in the day… or maybe the day afterward if I forget.

This year, Alice was with me while we were shopping for school valentines, and she asked if she could get her box a little early. Sure, I said. With school valentines and two boxes of candy hearts in the cart, Valentine’s Day was officially complete.

I also do some babysitting each week, and you guessed it…. I’m not “that” babysitter either.

I sometimes feel guilty that the kids I babysit aren’t going home with origami cranes and popsicle stick bridges which they’ve carefully crafted under my supervision. Mind you, this guilt is not! from the mother of the children I babysit; but as a former daycare worker, my lack of seasonal curriculum and extensive sensory experiences leaves me feeling like a poor excuse for a babysitter.

Today the worlds collided, mother of two… babysitting two children… on Valentine’s Day. There had to be something special these four children could do for Valentine’s Day, or I’d go down in history as the ultimate failure of a mother and babysitter.

The kids couldn’t have cared less about the fact that the world around them was consumed with over-priced card stock and super-sized stuffed animals. They happily played together in the snow, building igloos and trying to sled on a fresh bed of 15 inches of snow, which didn’t work too well.

But I continued to brainstorm. We could make valentines for their parents and grandparents, except I didn’t have items to decorate the cards… heart stickers, ribbon, paper doilies, 14 karat gold paint, rubies/diamonds… the usual.

I gave up… was lost… only a shell of a mother and babysitter, who should be filling everyone’s love tanks to full and overflowing on this highly celebrated day.

Then as I was making lunch, it came to me… doesn’t that sorta look like a heart?

pan

Maybe with a little more finesse, it would look like a heart. Take two.

plate

Oh yes! Add some chocolate chips and I covered the candy requirement too… bonus!

Ta-dah! I’m not a complete failure after all. The kids thought they were fun, but (not surprisingly) didn’t shed tears of overwhelming love.

Ian

Later in the afternoon, I read an article explaining that the real Valentine was a priest known for loving his enemies (certainly not romantic love or even parental/familial love)—loving the people whom he knew would kill him. February 14th is the anniversary of Valentine’s death.

And it got me thinking.

Maybe next year Valentine’s Day will be about loving those I overlook during the year, those who I may find irritating, those who need an extra gesture of love… instead of trying to find spectacular(ly simple) ways to love those I love hard all year long.