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Hummingbird

hummingbird bluegreen

The hummingbird goes way back for me. One of the delights of Brazil was our garden that seemed alive with these industrious little birds. Jurgis was particularly taken with them. It became almost an obsession for him to be able to capture a hummingbird in a photo. We moved away from that first house with its lush garden. Our next home was the turn of the bem-te-vi, a bird that also gave us a great deal of pleasure. We saw few hummingbirds after that. We tried putting out feeders, but weren’t in the right area for them. Still, whenever we spotted one while out, Jurgis would be captivated all over again.

I didn’t think much of the hummingbird after that. I love all birds, my personal favourites being the blackbird and the robin. They played a huge part in lifting my spirits during some dark times.

I will never forget the night Jurgis died. It had been a couple of hours since we’d turned off his life support when I finally pulled myself together long enough to get in touch with his brother in Australia. It was while we were talking when he broke in with, “What the…?? A hummingbird just flew into my pc!” On my end, I went cold all over. To me, that was no co-incidence. I believe in signs and this was definitely a sign. Hummingbirds don’t just fly into pc’s.

As happens when someone dies, we began receiving cards from friends from all over the world. It meant so much to us. Each card was heartfelt and helped to wrap us in love and care. No one card meant more than the other. In saying that, however, as I write this, two cards stand out for me. One came from a dear friend in Australia. Inside was… you guessed it… a hummingbird! That little golden hummingbird now lives in my purse. Another came all the way from Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

legend of the hummingbird

Since then, the hummingbird has appeared regularly and often in the most extraordinary place, though, to be fair, never a live bird. Some believe in signs. Others don’t. I’ll take it as a sign, a sign that he’s with me and watching, a sign that “life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and laughter is life’s sweetest creation”.

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Posted by on May 27, 2015 in animals, jorge, spiritual, symbolism

 

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Moving forward

At least, in one area of my life.

I know that there are many out there who will be thrilled (ok, that’s perhaps a rather strong word) to hear that I’ve made the decision to go for my radical mastectomy. It’s a huge thing for me, so I’ve planned it for the start of June, which gives me time to prepare physically, mentally, emotionally, and practically.

Physically, I need to work up fitness, particularly in my chest and arms. I’m also preparing myself for the possibility of lymphedema, the most frightening part of this whole deal and the main reason I’ve put surgery off for so long. Right now, I’m learning as much as I can about the prevention and management of that ghastly, incurable disease (yes, there are worse things than cancer – at least, in my book). Practically, I need to gather a front-buttoning, comfortable wardrobe. My shirts and blouses are all pullover. Not that I really need much encouragement to go shopping lately. Shopping, for me, is very much out of character. I’ve always been the Scrooge, thinking twice before spending a penny. This brings me to the mental and emotional part of all this.

This past month has been awful on so many levels. My first lone wedding anniversary was one of the toughest times I’ve had to go through. For many years, we didn’t celebrate birthdays or Christmases as a family. Our wedding anniversary was the Big Event of the year. Much was made of it. Tat and I did our level best to be out there and busy on that day, but it was still rough. The nights are the worst. I rarely sleep more than two hours at a stretch. My scans not long after Jurgis died showed a substantial shrinkage of the tumour. No surprise there. I was militant about my protocol, following it to the nth degree and he helped me, continually encouraging me in my weaker moments. After he died, I seemed to have lost all will. My protocol slid and became erratic. This has shown itself in my scan results. First there was no shrinkage. The last lot showed growth and the tumour isn’t looking ‘healthy’ anymore, so yes, I’m giving up, though not altogether…

The plan is this: Aside from my wardrobe issues, which are really minor – the joys of working in a charity shop are that clothes are easy and inexpensive to come by – there are a few more practical plans to make. I want to make pouches for the drains that I may have to wear for a couple of weeks. I’ve seen examples of these in US and Australian stores. I’ve not seen anything here, but am not worried, as I can make them. It will give me something to do during those long, sleepless nights anyway. After surgery, I’ll stay home for about two weeks before phasing in going back to work. I plan to go back to my anti-cancer protocol after the surgery, though I’ll probably cut back on the number of supplements. I do need to go back to a cleaner diet *sigh* That’s been the biggest factor in my health changes.


It’s rather hard to find a non-gory image to illustrate the surgical incision and the drain bags I plan to make holders for. The holders are to prevent them pulling out of the surgical area when sleeping or going out.

I’m sorry I disappeared. I’m sorry I shut my friends out this month. I could barely deal with myself, never mind actually having to make meaningful conversation. At work, it’s easy. Simple customer service and possible chat about the weather. My evenings and nights have been a long marathon of watching TV series and online shopping (a rather troublesome side effect of my emotional state). Having said that, I do now have a couple of purchases that give me immense delight like the little fan I bought to help cope with the brutal hot flushes at night. It’s a bright, sunny yellow and just totally cool, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Onward and upward. It’s a long road, but I’m used to long roads by now, right?

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2015 in cancer, healing, health, jorge

 

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Some days….



 
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Posted by on January 30, 2015 in jorge

 

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The End

we3 Not the best photo, but the last of the three of us

2014 is drawing to a close. I sit alone and cast my thoughts, those that allow themselves to be cast – distraction has become my theme song – back over the year. In July, I cried. The job I loved and, with it, the security I had crumbled into a little heap of angst. “Not fair!” I cried. It wasn’t too hard to pick up out of that with the help of a new job and some truly great colleagues and friends. For a while there, I thought life could turn out to be ok.

It wasn’t to last though. A visit to the doctor, tests and a diagnosis later – life wasn’t done with me. Of course, I knew something was wrong, but being flung into a vortex of surgeons, scans, new foods, pills, tears, sleepy days and sleepless nights left my head spinning. I took comfort in my friends and family and had the rock-solid support of my husband.

The rock crumbled. Jurgis was the one who would coax me daily to take my pills and drink my juices. When I felt I couldn’t, he would do it for me, pushing me all along. It was never me. It was ‘we’. I remember sitting at the table with him. “We’ll nail this thing together. You’re not alone. I’m fighting with you.” He never let me give up! Not fair! Not fair! He was too young to die. He was meant to live to 112. We were meant to grow old together. We talked about it… joked about it. We had dreams, some realistic, some destined to remain in dream world. I first started dating him back in ‘81. We got married in April ‘86. That’s a fair time to get to know someone, though, after living in each other’s pockets for so long, I was still learning new things about him. He was very predictable in so many ways, but still managed to surprise me regularly. Ah yes, life is going to be different now.

Having said all that, I was thinking as I wrote this that, while the year has been a tough one on many levels, it’s also been an incredibly wonderful year. This is the year that I realised my dream of moving to live near Tatiana in England. We’ve climbed mountains and weathered many storms on that journey! I also had a job I truly loved. Not many experience that in a lifetime. I made new friends and renewed old friendships, both of which I treasure beyond measure.

I want to close this year trying, though finding the right words without ending up sounding gushy isn’t easy, to express the gratitude I feel.

I’m grateful for the 30 years I had with a wonderful man that I miss so much. I’m grateful that he was able to bring me this far. I’m grateful for the times he bullied me into taking care of myself, often to his own detriment. I’m grateful for the strength he gave me to carry on when the world appeared to be crumbling around me.

I’m grateful to my amazing daughter and her man. Tat has stepped in and taken over from her father in being my rock and my strength (and my bully). She and Ste have taken me in and made sure I had a home, so I wouldn’t be alone. What was meant to be a visit while we looked for a place of our own has become a longer-term haven where I can lick my wounds and heal.

I’m grateful for my friends. Oh how grateful! You, my friends, are what has carried us through all the drama and trauma of the past few months. I walk covered by a mantle of love and carried along by the collective caring I experience daily. My friends may be all over the world, but your presence here with me is very real. Then there are the friends who made sure that Christmas wouldn’t be a lonely tear-fest. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the whole Williams family!! I had reason to thank them even before that for making Jurgis’ farewell a spectacular one where we cried and laughed and toasted and burnt up the night sky. I believe he enjoyed that evening too. The only frustrating part for him was not being able to drink his own toast and it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m also grateful to all those who helped us celebrate his life, people who didn’t even know me, but came to show support and those who travelled far to be with us. Thank you!

I also want to remember the people who form the network of healing for me… my old GP who would call to see how I was and my old breast cancer nurse who still checks up on me. All the staff at the Southport hospital for caring for Jurgis and ourselves with gentle dignity (and for not being too shocked at our outbursts of either laughter or tears) and later for the way they’ve cared for me through my own treatments. When I arrive at the hospital only to find it’s the wrong hospital, they’d take it in their stride, contacting the other hospital to explain and seeing if they could fit me in at the one I’d walked into. The patience of my surgeons is just one more gratitude to add. I’m grateful, not so much for their faith in me, but for allowing me to be me and to believe in myself.

I’m off to join Tat at the club now. It’ll be odd. I’ve never done this alone before – see what you get for going straight into a long-term relationship right out of school. I can do this. Bring it on, 2015!

happy

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2014 in family, friends, gratitude, jorge, new-year

 

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Hoesê?

hoese-card

I posted the photo of Jorge and I as a group challenge on the subject of ‘humour’. The South Africans will ‘get’ this one.

I’m the hard of hearing one in the family. Jorge, on the other hand, has selective hearing, but we often tease him about being deaf because he is so ‘tuned out’ a lot of the time. For our anniversary, Tatiana sent us an anniversary card from home with "Hoesê?" (translates directly to "How say?" or "What??" with emphasis) on it. Correctly written, it would be, "Hoe sê…", as a lead in to asking something like, "How do you say….?"  "Hoesê" in this form, though, is a catch phrase in South Africa. It comes from an old TV series where one of the characters would often shout that term. Seffies… please help me out with the name of the program. It is killing me!
PS. Did any of that make any sense to anyone who didn’t know what it meant?

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2008 in family, fun, jorge, language, south-africa

 

Birthday boy

feuding family - jorge corrianne tatiana - xmas 2007

 

Jorge, the family clown, trouble maker, stirrer of the year…

Over a mug of his favourite Malzbier, we asked him, "How does it feel to be middle aged?"

"I don’t feel middle aged," said he.

Tatiana reached over and twirled the curl over his growing bald patch. "So how does it feel to be going bald?"

I think he snarled…. before he got his revenge…. Ooh yes… he got his revenge, right Tat? ; )

Happy Birthday Jorge!

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Posted by on August 25, 2008 in birthday, family, jorge

 

Weird conversation

grave

Photo by Jorge on his trip to Lithuania

Jorge is a strange character. His usual reaction to death or the announcement of someone’s death is a super-tactful, "Sh*t happens." Apologies for the expression. I’m quoting very literally. I say, super-tactful, because he has been known to insert some black humour at that point, unless checked. I’ve always believed that this is because he has no earthly clue how to deal with the subject. Emotion of any sort in himself or anyone else makes him incredibly uncomfortable.
This morning, he called an elderly spinster who apparently knew him and his family when he was just a tiny tot here, before they moved to South Africa. She also knows the Lithuanian lot well. The lady, Irene, was talking about another lady (I forget their connection) who is recently widowed and having a hard time adjusting. She’s 70 and her husband was 75. This got Jorge talking about death and then, graves. He has this dream of returning to Lithuania to buy the land his grandfather owned.

This was different. He now wants to find out exactly where his grandfather was buried here in Brazil, so that he can take a handful of soil from his grave to his grandmother’s grave in Lithuania. He then wants to renovate her grave because it has been neglected. Those who know Jorge, will know that this is really strange talk from him. He never met his grandparents. In fact, he only recently met his aunt for the first time, his uncle having passed on before he made it to Lithuania.
We have never, as a family, given much credence to burial places. I believe that the grave is empty. It is merely a symbol… a marker. The spirit of the person lives on in our hearts and lives. A meaningful tribute, to me, would be to plant a tree or something in their memory. Jorge is about as unsentimental as they come, so this kind of talk had us wondering if he was feeling… uh… well. Is my husband getting sentimental in his old age? He is, you know… in many ways. Then there are days when he totally blows that ‘persona’. Confusing guy….

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Posted by on July 22, 2008 in family, jorge, lithuania

 
 
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