Pink October

I received a phone call from my doctor’s office this afternoon. Insurance previously denied the claim for a breast MRI I had in April. There were two levels of appeal, and today’s call informed me that our final appeal was not successful.

This news was disappointing. After all, my doctor is a specialist. She weighed all my risk factors before ordering this particular test. I was so confident that information would change the decision.

My risk factors included family history (my mom is a five-year survivor), extremely dense tissue, and my use of hormone replacement therapy. Over the past eighteen years, I’ve experienced extra mammograms, ultrasounds, two MRIs, a lumpectomy, and multiple needle biopsies-all benign.

Rehashing these details did not help. My frustration only grew. And then my sweet husband called. He calmly reminded me that I could not change this outcome. The MRI had provided peace in a moment of uncertainty. And that was more important than money.

Writing through my frustration brought transformation. I am left feeling thankful. Thankful for my mom and my current health status. Thankful for an expert doctor who is comprehensive and thorough. Thankful for a husband who knows what I need to hear just at the right moment.

Our first outing after her mastectomy. ❤

I do find it interesting that this decision came during Breast Cancer Awareness month. The month in which we celebrate and encourage survivors. A time to remember those no longer with us. Time focused on raising research funds and seeking a cure.

Who knows? Maybe it came at just the right time, forcing me to write.

I will see my doctor later this month for a checkup. My prayer is for continued positive results. I will not live in a spirit of fear for what might happen in the future but will continue to be diligent where my health is concerned.

So in the middle of this pink October, here is my reminder-Early detection is the key! Don’t delay in getting your yearly mammograms!

Steel Magnolias

When I first saw this movie about thirty years ago, it became an instant favorite. Many times, I’ve watched it simply because I needed a good, cleansing cry.

The story has so many beautiful elements. It follows a group of women friends through the love and heartache of life. And it does so with a backdrop of the changing of the seasons.

I didn’t initially appreciate the powerful imagery suggested by the title. Magnolia flowers are large, beautiful blossoms which grow on a magnificent tall tree. Steel is a hard, strong material used in construction. These two words seem to contradict one another. Yet together, they create a picture of beauty and strength. Exactly what the women in the story portrayed.

My mom has six sisters and two sister-n-laws. That meant eight aunts for me growing up in the Mahar family. Along with my grandma, these women are the definition of “steel magnolias.” Beautiful, strong women who have each faced their share of challenges.

After a recent visit with some of them, I began to think about their list of accomplishments. I first created a list of their names and wrote a brief description next to each one. Although they might not recognize it themselves, their qualities and achievements are quite impressive. The following is a comprehensive list describing all of them collectively.

Daughters and sisters
Wives and mothers
Aunts and grandmothers
A single mom, a grieving mom
Breast cancer survivors
Adult college graduates
Artist, nurses, a pianist
Three widowed, one remarried, two deceased
Women of faith
Hard-working
Opinionated
Dependable
Teachers
Faithful
Friends
Patient
Loving
Strong
Kind

Muriel, Pearl, Mary, Elizabeth, Geneva, Sharon, Linda, Martha, Jeanie, Linda

I’m thankful for my mom, grandma, and aunts. Each embodies this picture of strength and beauty in their own way. And together, they create a strong family tree. A tree with strong roots and beautiful blooms. “Steel Magnolias” able to face any challenge this life brings.

My Red, Ceramic, Music Box Piano

I have a small collection of miniature pianos. The very first one was a gift from my mom-a red, ceramic, upright piano with a cute little round stool. I’ve had this piano for as long as I can remember.

                                                 My little red piano

There is one more thing which makes this piano extra special. It’s a music box! A metal key on the back must be turned to begin its song. And what song does my red piano play? Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. If I turned the piano key today, the music would play at an extremely slothful pace, making the song nearly unrecognizable.

                                            The magical key

So much joy came from turning that key when I was a kid. If I sit quietly and listen, the song still plays in my head. Fast to slow, then stopping as the mechanism winds down. The melody and the lyrics fill my thoughts, just as they did when I was a little girl.

So I just did me some talking to the sun
And I said I didn’t like the way he got things done
Sleeping on the job
Those raindrops keep falling on my head,
They keep fallin’

Funny words for a song. Childlike in nature. I can picture a little girl standing in the rain, shaking her finger towards the sky. Asking the sun why it went away. Wanting the rain to stop.

I really hadn’t given much thought to the history behind the song until now. The original singer was B.J. Thomas. I’m certain I heard his recording on the radio. What I didn’t know-it was written for the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and won an Academy Award. How exciting!

It’s funny. I started thinking about this song yesterday in conjunction with my red, ceramic, music box piano. And then today, it rained all day long. Actually, it’s still raining now. Which leads me to the bridge section of the song.

But there’s one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me
Won’t defeat me, it won’t be long
‘Till happiness steps up to greet me

Now that the day is ending, even though the rain is still falling, I’ll choose to look for that happiness. The happiness which comes from simple things. Simple things like the last line of this song:

Because I'm free
Nothing's worrying me

Simple things like my red, ceramic, music box piano and the precious memories it brings.