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March 19, 2005

Blog silence = life chaos

I'm swamped. I've got tons of copyediting and proofreading and factchecking to do (which is what I do when I'm not selling yarn or going to the gym or swing dancing or writing). That would just be the normal amount of busy, but this week it's been hard to get anything done at all.

I found out on Monday that my mom's got colon cancer. More specifically, rectal cancer. She's only 59 (she'll be 60 in June). Her doctors are talking "cure" and not "months to live"--so that's good news. But the next few months are going to be just horrible for her. It's starting to sink in that they aren't going to be so great for me, either.

She and I have had a complicated relationship over the years. Superfically, we are extraordinarily different women, and that seems to be a big stumbling block for my mom. She just isn't able to see my similarities to her, she can only see our differences. So she looks at me and sees: a purple-haired, eyebrow-pierced, liberal entrepreneur who abandoned the south for the metropolitan northeast and who hangs out with intellectuals and freaks. Yep. That would be me.

I look at my mom and I look at me, and I see stubborn, gregarious women, who build communities around themselves, and develop connections between people, and who persevere through incredible difficulties. Although our interactions around her teaching me things were especially fraught when I was a teenager, in the end I have become someone who loves to cook, and to make things, and to garden, all of which she has loved over the years. So you'd think we could manage to find some common ground, wouldn't you?

My hope right now is that somehow this stupid illness will help us manage to talk to each other more frankly than we have in the past. I know that I often get frustrated with her, and then end up feeling like it isn't worth the emotional effort to try to make a conversation have a better outcome. On her side, I perceive a sort of fatalism, a kind of belief going in that "since we're so different" there's no way we can talk about one thing or another in any sort of useful way. Perhaps cancer will work its evil mojo to create a sense of urgency around the situation, and we'll manage to have some better talks.

Or maybe we won't. I have no idea. I'm trying not to expect too much; I'm trying not to expect too little. I'm trying to take care of myself, even as I keep falling apart and freaking out entirely. Today I'm pretty okay. Yesterday I started having a meltdown as I was reading the side effects of the chemotherapy drug (5FU) she'll be taking for six weeks.

If she were a perfectly healthy 59-year-old woman going into this, I understand that the prognosis would be pretty good. But she's had an enormous number of health problems over the years, and I'm worried that a bazillion things could go wrong with the chemo and radiation.

I'm actually going to be splitting up this blog into two blogs soon, so that this one will be more yarn store-related, and the new one will be more personal, and if I had done that already, obviously this entry would have gone there. But that's one of the little projects that's on hold as I'm trying to hang on by my fingernails to what's left of my humor and my stability--I'll post here when that blog is ready to launch.

Posted by Rose at March 19, 2005 10:37 AM


I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's cancer. I'm glad that you recognize how important it is to take care of and be gentle with yourself. Mothers and daughters are such a complicated and delicate enterprise. Let's hope that it brings you both better understanding of one another and some peace. (Reading this it sounds corny and trite but I do mean it and don't know any other way to express it.)

Posted by: Collette at March 19, 2005 12:03 PM

I'm really sorry to hear about your Mother's illness, I hope that the treatment goes as well as it can and that you both make it through ok.

IMHO if you're willing to keep trying to communicate with your Mother then there's some sort of relationship worth working on. Keep going, you might surprise each other one day.

Hope this sounds ok, it's so hard to comment and not sound like you're some cheap ass self help book...



Posted by: Anna at March 19, 2005 03:05 PM

I am so sorry to hear that. I have a somewhat conflicted relationship with my mother so I know how hard it can be to reconcile the fear and worry with the all of the baggage.

I'm sending some seriously good energy your way. Hang in there.

Posted by: Stacy at March 19, 2005 05:28 PM

Please accept my best wishes for you and your mother as you both venture into new territory. I had a very disappointing relationship with my mother (it seemed to be mutual, actually...) and have only recently accepted that she did the best she could and that it wasn't really what I wanted. But I've learned enough to be an extraordinary mother (Don't mean to brag, but even DD says so) to my daughter which has made it all worthwhile. If you haven't seen it... go treat yourself to Christiane Northrup's new book on Mothers and Daughters.... Or if you email me I'll send you my slightly used copy of Mary Marcdante's My Mother, My friend (the 10 most important things to talk about with your mother).
Aging is, indeed a pain in the butt.

Posted by: Dana at March 20, 2005 04:05 AM

When/if the right moment comes (you will know), maybe just tell her the things you wrote about in your 4th paragraph, the things you have in common. I think what you wrote is lovely.

Best wishes to you and your mom during her treatment and stuff.


Posted by: Kathryn at March 20, 2005 09:33 PM

Strength and courage to both of you, and a sense of time warping as the next few months speed past.

Posted by: Sheila at March 21, 2005 10:07 AM

Best wishes for your mom's treatment and recovery, and good luck working on your relationship. I lost my mom to a brain tumor when she was 49 and I was 22. We had a good relationship, but we were just beginning to relate to each other as adults. Still, I feel lucky to have had a great mom for almost 23 years. If anything, I had sort of an opposite problem from you: my mom and I were so alike (or at least were perceived that way), I've struggled to maintain my own identity in the ways we're different.

Take care, Rose - and I hope to make it to Yarnivore soon (I don't get to Brooklyn much as I live in Queens and work on the upper east side of Manhattan.) xox, Alison

Posted by: Alison at March 23, 2005 04:07 PM

I hope your mom is doing okay. Best wishes.

Posted by: Alexa at March 29, 2005 07:12 PM

Rose, that sucks. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. Best wishes and strength to you in the coming months.

Take good care of yourself.


Posted by: Jenn C. at March 31, 2005 04:44 PM

this is my first visit to your blog. Interesting. Verbose. Full a character. I LIKE IT.

There is a difference between rectal cancer and colon cancer. Rectal cancer has a horrible couple of months after the surgery, but then recovery seems to go along quite nicely. It is a very survivable cancer.

Colon cancer is making inroads, but it's still a killer. (I have a good friend who is dying of this disease).

Give your mother whatever support you can and hope she accepts it. I had a terribly difficult relationship with my mother. When she got sick (Alzheimers) I had to try and accept the fact that I would never get from her what I wanted. Acceptance for me just the way I am.

I'm still looking for that.

Hopefully you are more successful in finding it.

Posted by: Debra at April 2, 2005 09:43 PM