Life Of A Blog Writer and His Family

I started my blog after I found out I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in October of 2008. Having a blog allows you to jot down your thoughts and not have to worry about whether or not you included all the right people in the email.  Having said that, there’s a certain responsibility with a blog – to keep it updated.  I’m not a journalist or a writer (though, at times, I have had the odd post that has garnered a compliment) so I don’t have to deal with that journalistic integrity crap!  But I know I have readers – some I know, and many I don’t.  My original purpose was to put everything down on ‘paper’ so that i’ve thought it through but mostly so I don’t have to tell my mother the story over and over (unfortunately, that result has yet to be achieved.)

If I was keeping a blog on tech then not knowing when the new iPhone was being released would diminish my respectability as a tech blogger.  If I was writing about world peace (something I know nothing about) then, again, I wouldn’t be keeping up with the times and keeping my readers involved or aware of my vast knowledge of the subject, especially these days.  But when you have a blog related to a disease like cancer, not updating your blog raises the first question that nobody wants to ask…, “is he still alive?”  Luckily, I’ve tried to update my posts with the actual fact – I’m alive, i’m in complete remission (touch wood) and doing well.  But don’t say anything for a few months and the same question comes to mind.  Unfortunately, you can’t help but ask it.

At first, and even now to an extent, it is difficult to follow a blog of a cancer patient.  You get close, very quickly and if something were to occur, your thoughts turn immediately to yourself. And that’s scared the living sht out of me at times.  I feel I’m somewhat over that and, as Dr J told me, it’s time to get on with life.  You’ve gotten control over this miserable mess, do your monthly, keep yourself fit and get on with life.  And now I’m back in the regular work swing, I have my monthly bloodwork and Rev maintenance; my quarterly local checkups; and my bi-annual checkups with DFCI.  Those are just a few hours or days and, unlike when I was taking my frozen sushi or going through chemo or losing my hair – there just aren’t as many good stories to tell.  And frankly, there’s just not enough time in the day, especially with a 7.5 and 4 year old (and cub scouts, dance recitals, etc.)  So now it’s late on a Saturday and while jogging this morning I had this idea that I needed to explain this to everyone (or anyone that’s willing to have read this far!)

I am doing fine – and I find myself quite lucky for that fact.  But then I turn to others that are having a tougher go at this, I really count my lucky stars – as well as turn my prayers to them.  For those that have gone down this same path, creating a blog to document this pain in the “bone” (sorry, really bad MM joke), remember to add a note here and there to let everyone know you’re still kicking some MM Butt!

Now – a complete switch in topics – Mothers!  If you’ve not spoken to your mother in a few months stop reading this and call your mother – or at least send her an email!  I’m a bit late with this post, with mother’s day a few weeks behind us, but it is something I need to say.  Every family is dysfunctional – that’s what the F in family stands for (dysFunctional!)  I grew up with a grandfather that feuded with his brother and, until Facebook, an entire branch of the family tree is missing!  His brother’s name is on the moon for Christ’s sake (he was proud enough to tell us that but still wouldn’t talk to him!)  And for this to fester and grow through the generations is just miserable.  All of us have read stories about families, immigration, where you came from, etc. – that connection to the past helps define the present.  I’ve been trolling through my parents attic getting pictures from years gone past and trying to understand who all these people are and seeing them in a completely different light.  My only memories of my one grandfather were playing gin rummy while he smoked his Marlboro Reds and stuck his dentures out so I’d miss a trick.  Now I have pictures of him in uniform holding my mother at an age 2 years prior to my daughters current age.  You start to see parts of life that helped create who you are today.

Now I’m focusing on all aspects of the family but I started this diatribe with mother’s in particular.  On this most recent Mother’s Day I was lucky enough to have my Aunt present as well (and it was my son’s first communion weekend as well).  Her first comment was, “I don’t want to be in the way for your big day.”  My only response was, “huh?”  This is family, and you only get one of those – for good  or for bad.  Having her present allowed my kids to see a different aspect of our family, and where I’m sure they didn’t pick up on it now, it will be a memory they will have, and  respect, years later.  I show my son pictures from when I was his age and ask him to smile so he can show his kids similar pictures and have similar memories and thoughts (and not that smirky fake smile!)  So my Aunt was included in our festivities and she was overwhelmed with grandkids galore (not having any of her own.)  To my surprise, I was told later that she had never gone out for Mother’s Day dinner.  WTF?!?  Sure, my mother is a pain in the ass (love ya mom!) but it’s mothers day – if she’s near, you better damn well have breakfast or brunch (or suffer weeks of misery!)  It was something that amazed me; but brought up the fact that too many people seem to get it in their head that how they feel, right now, is more important than the fact that blood is thicker than water – these people are the only family you have, think of the big picture.   It’s bad to let distant family grow too separate.  But immediate family is too important.  If you’re in town, you better damn well let me know or I will be pissed!  I will make time to see you, as I remember when you changed my diapers!!!

I joined Facebook after I left Asia as it was the only way to keep in touch with an expat audience who had a temporary email address (once they moved, the address was a bounceback).  I was able to keep in touch with a group of friends near and dear to me.  Now that’s spread to put me in touch with family I’ve never even met!  My father was amazed that I send a Christmas card each year to his cousin.  I’ve never met her but her father’s name is on the moon for Christ’s sake!  That’s cool!  And we’re related!  Better yet, I saw a picture of her grandson, who is 8 and is taking TaeKwonDo, just like my son!  I want him to know this boy and maybe one day trade stories about family and what each remember so they can compare notes and make fun of their parents.

We have a bizarre occurrence in our family that rivals Kevin Bacon’s six degrees of separation.  It seems (just like my grandmother used to find) that we somehow know everyone and have some sort of connection.  But when it’s a connection through family that makes it even stronger.  In scanning these attic photos I came across one with kids in their Sunday best but the year identified in the photo didn’t fit with the people or who I thought they were.  After realizing this, I found out it was actually family I’d never met, but who’s son (whom I had met, in Scotland, once) I share a birthday (my cousin).  I then got an email from his father saying he remembered that day (and he was the second from the left in the picture) and that they could only afford the photographer if three families got their pictures done at the same time.   You can’t make this stuff up – and it’s family.

So enough from me – go call/write/email your mother – NOW!

(I know, I had this same rant about friends so feel free to call them as well!)