Back in the saddlePosted: April 26, 2011 Filed under: breast cancer, cancer fatigue | Tags: back in the saddle, Christos anesti, exercise after mastectomy and reconstruction, Gene Autry, getting your life back, Greek Easter, Greek Easter bread, gym, happy day, post-cancer workout 1 Comment
Ladies & Gentlemen, I’ve just returned from the gym.
Oh, happy day.
I’m back in the saddle. Hooray.
Really and truly happy is what I am right now. No, it’s not tennis, and when the day comes that I step back on that court, I will be really and truly ecstatically happy, but this is a good start.
I saw my Greek friend Spyros, who said “Christos anesti,” to which I replied in kind. He’s always suspicious of my Greek-ness because I married a white guy and my kids don’t attend Greek school, so it was a smallish victory for me to be able to reply to him in the mother tongue. If I’d thought about it, I would have expected him to be there, because he’s always there and may well be the fittest Greek person on the planet, and I would have brought him a red hardboiled egg. See, Greeks dye all their Easter eggs red, to be symbolic of the blood of Christ. We nestle the red boiled eggs into the braided Greek Easter bread, then pass them around to everyone at the table and exclaim, “Christos anesti!” Then we play a little game: two people knock their eggs against each other, and who ever comes away from it with an unbroken egg is the winner. On Sunday at my cousin’s house, Thea Sophia was the undefeated egg holder until my other cousin Kim unseated her. Kinda mean to do to an 83-year-old, but that’s how we Greeks roll.
After greeting Spyros and once again wondering how the hell he stays so fit while loving Greek food, I found my good buddy and trainer LeRoy. Like Peaches & Herb, LeRoy and I were reunited, and it was pretty good. He usually pushes me to the point in which I think I will barf, and he always knows best. Some people in my household think he pushes me too hard and I’m all worn out & cranky from a LeRoy workout. Those people will be happy to know that today LeRoy was very cautious and treated me quite kindly. He also reminded me often to be patient (blech!) and that getting back to my previous level of fitness is do-able. I’m gonna hold him to that.
Walking on the treadmill is not my thing, ok? I’m looking for something a little more heart-pumping and sweat-inducing than that. Not saying you can’t get a nice workout from a brisk walk, but that I’m too impatient for that. But I walked 20 minutes at a nice clip with a bit of an incline (a bit more than LeRoy recommended, but don’t tell him), lunged down the gym and back, did some light–very light–arm weights (lateral, front, and full raises; hammer curls, tricep extension and high-pulls), step-ups on the tall step not the baby step, and walked another half mile on the treadmill.
Not a workout from days gone by, but a good start. I’m back in the saddle, and learning to be content with that. Yes, the learning curve is steep, but I’m getting there.
A double holidayPosted: April 24, 2011 Filed under: breast cancer, food, kids | Tags: bunny cake, Easter, Easter baskets, family gatherings, Greek Easter, Greek food, missing mom, wedding anniversary, wedding photos 10 Comments
It’s Easter, a bittersweet holiday for me. Spring is hard. My parents’ wedding anniversary is in March, my mom’s birthday in April, followed a few days later by my first dog Maddy’s birthday, then Mother’s Day in May. Celebrating these milestones without my mom is hard, to say the least. The advertising blitz leading up to Mother’s Day depresses the hell out of me each year, and somehow the loss of my own mama always intrudes on the celebration with my kids. She made every holiday fun, and subsequent family gatherings are sorely incomplete without her and her cooking. We always did Easter Greek-style, with roast leg of lamb, roasted potatoes or minestra (Greek pasta), pastichio (Greek lasagna), a huge Greek salad, homemade Greek Easter bread, and of course, coconut cream pie and the annual bunny cake. This year we’ll be celebrating at my cousin Susie’s house, Greek-style, and I’ll drink a toast to my sweet mama. I think she’d approve of this year’s bunny cake.
The cake is a tradition dating back to when I was a kid (which was a long time ago). My mom saw the idea in a magazine and made it every year. I’ve started the tradition with my kids, and now Payton has outgrown it enough to only consult on whether the frosting tastes ok. He’s come a long way from the little guy in the striped t-shirt, trying so hard to balance as many eggs as his little mitts could gather. Macy is chief cake decorator now, and has had exclusive creative license over the bunny cake the last few years. The look of the cakes varies slightly over the years as Macy chooses the decorations. The 2009 version was a study in understatment and pastels.
Last year’s cake was a bit more candy-oriented, with Hershey’s kisses for eyes and a licorice nest for a nose. His bowtie was heavily crusted with assorted sprinkles and jimmies, and the creative genius behind this version clearly had to jump in the pool after her decorating was done.
This year’s bunny has a jaunty moustache and thick eyebrows. He’s decidedly less pastel-y and a bit more avante guard with nary a sprinkle to be found. He’s both stylish and delicious.
Today also marks 18 years of wedded bliss. On this day 18 years ago, I said “I do,” and Trevor said “I do, too” and luckily he agreed on the “in sickness and in health part,” because we’ve seen more than our fair share of the former. Hope to have nothing but the latter from here on out.
We marked the momentous occasion by waking to the sounds of the kids tearing apart the cellophane wrapping of their Easter baskets. The Easter Bunny had to break tradition and deliver a pre-pack instead of the usual carefully-chosen assortment of each child’s personal favorites tucked among the fake green stringy grass, along with a few trinkets and treasures. This year, the EB copped out, but I don’t think anyone but me noticed.
In typical form, Trevor had a gift and a card for me, and I had nothing for him to celebrate 18 years together. I’m not the most sentimental, and you wouldn’t have to look hard to find someone more romantic than me, which is a crying shame. Luckily, what I lack in mooshiness, I make up for in pluck and resourcefulness and always have a gift stashed somewhere. Like a rabbit out of a hat, I pulled a new Adidas tennis shirt & shorts out of the gift closet for him, and wrapped it up real quick like as if it was my intention all along. The card must be lost in the mail. Really. Sigh.
In honor of April 24th and 18 years together, here’s a little walk down memory lane.
No, that’s not the hairstyle Trevor chose for his big day, but the gusty wind blowing his thick and luxurious mop. See, there was a tornado the day of our wedding, and no, Smarty Pants, it wasn’t a sign of things to come. Nice try. Sadly, 7 people were killed and 100 were injured by this storm, and no, it had nothing to do with our union. Strictly coincidence and having absolutely no significance for poor Trevor.
There was a Whataburger next to the church we were married in, and while the girls were primping in the bride’s suite, the boys snuck next door for a bite to eat. The photographer caught them in the act, and we have Trevor’s killer tornado hair on record. Sweet.
Here’s the title page of our wedding album, lovingly inscribed in by #1 neighbor and wedding coordinator Susan Postier. Notice the red and black scribbles? That would be Macy, as a toddler. She had an evil streak that incited her to leave her mark on everything from walls to brand-new furniture to wedding albums. Nothing was safe from the wrath of our pint-sized Pollock. Instead of being mad at her and thinking the album was ruined, I treasure it all the more because it has Macy’s signature on it. She wasn’t at the wedding, of course, and isn’t in any of the photos, but she made herself a part of it by stamping it with her signature scribble.
Here’s a much younger version of me with my parents. At the time, I was wondering how many more photos I had to endure, and was probably wondering when I could get to the reception and get my drink on. Now of course I would give my right arm to have a few more days with my mom here, my family intact. She was so excited about that pale pink dress, and had even taken a Jazzercise class to make sure she would fit into it, which was a big deal for her because my sweet mama didn’t like to sweat.
Trevor and his mom, Jody, who is amazingly artistic and designed and sewed her dress herself. The photo doesn’t do it justice, as the color was more teal-green and the intricate hand-beading (sewn on in the car as they drove to the wedding from Kentucky) was beautiful.
Trevor and his dad clowning around. How ironic that I’m looking at the photo of Preston giving Trevor “bunny ears” on Easter morning 18 years later. You can’t make this stuff up, people!
Trevor and his brothers. Marrying into a family of 4 boys was a bit of a shock for me, having just one sibling myself. I learned about “the Hicks pass” in which one empties the dish of whatever food item the other brother requests one passes at the dinner table, and that if you want more mashed potatoes, you better get ’em on the first go-round. Trevor and I thought we might like to have 4 kids ourselves…until Macy came along, that is, and we decided 2 was plenty.
My brother and me. The next time we’d be formally dressed and in a pulpit together would be our mom’s funeral, 13 years later. He wanted to speak about her and asked if I’d stand with him. I agreed but said I didn’t think I would speak. He lovingly prepared a speech about what an incredible mom she was, and how he didn’t realize until he became a parent himself just how sacrificing and unconditionally loving she was. He cited examples of homemade treats in his lunchbox, endless rides for him and his teammates to baseball and football games, and the fact that his uniforms were always clean, no matter how many games a week were scheduled. A beautiful tribute to an amazing mother. Yet, he was overcome with emotion when it came time to read it, and I found my voice and pitched in to deliver his words. I think our sweet mama, a former speech & drama teacher, would have been proud of our presentation.
The last photo in the bride’s suite before the we got that show on the road. The photographer wanted to get an artsy shot of my reflection in the mirror as my mom adjusted my veil, and I nearly lost it just before walking down the aisle. If only I’d known then that my time with her would be short and all the more precious.
Anyone who knew my sweet mama can imagine her muttering under her breath as my brother led her down the aisle. She was probably telling him that he was walking too fast or too slow, or maybe she was talking to herself about what so-and-so was wearing, or wondering if she’d made enough baklava to go around at the reception. Her brain was always running full-speed, and it was usually focused on other people and their needs.
Jody had 2 escorts down the aisle, and those young boys did a fine job delivering their mama to her seat. They’re all grown up now, which I guess officially makes me old.
My dad looks mighty serious in this photo, and I vaguely recall him telling me it wasn’t too late to change my mind. I’m sure he was kidding. He led by example for all of my formative years, and when it came time to give his baby girl away, he threw a mighty fine party.
My cousin Susie and her baby, Melissa, who is now a senior in high school. It’s official–I’m old.
Happy Easter, everyone, and happy anniversary, Trevor. Now let’s go cut that bunny cake!