Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Key and the Cancer

I've been trying to find a way to put the last week and weekend into words. Talking about things with more people make them more real. And there is one truth about 'being strong'. It means you know how to ask for help when you need it. And right now, I need all the help I can get.

 First thing's first.  

The Good News
We got the house!
We spent all weekend moving, and I couldn't be more grateful for one of My Sailor's shipmates who just likes to "fix things" and used to be an electrician! He's been really handy, and can be paid in meals. It's been a real blessing. We still don't have window coverings (like blinds, etc.) so we've been waking up with the sun, which has actually felt wonderful. We don't live in an urban area, so I'm not really worried about lookie-loos. We'll get shades up on the next paycheck.  We are very quickly learning about the Joys of Ownership. When we arrived, most of the yard was a mid-calf forest of dandelions! So we've invested in a lawn mower to keep the weeds down until we can finish landscaping. I woke up this morning to sewer water backed up all over the master bathroom and this crazy smell in the guest bathroom... yeah... delicious. We're on septic so something was wrong. I called  Ghost Hunters RotoRooter and they came to my rescue! About $300 later, we're good to go. Thank God we have a roommate paying rent this month! His rent went towards unclogging our septic drain.  We got a great steal on this house. We're still working on getting out of boxes. I'm back to work and My Sailor is back to work as well. We love waking up to our amazing view every day, and cooking in such a huge kitchen has actually made us enjoy the adventure again. Once we are out of boxes and our pictures are up, we'll be ready to share some video on the blog. So that's the wonderful blessing of being out of an apartment!
Clydas seems to agree, though he's not too keen on the stairs. He tried them out, but opts to stay down stairs, which is fine.
Now it's time to tell you readers (ye brave, ye few) about the 'other stuff'.
  Last week, My Sailor came home with a new friend for me. (Right)
 During all the craziness that is moving and the sea of paperwork that is required for a mortgage, we learned that my dad has more than a few things in common with someone I find very inspirational. I've often quoted Randy Pausch's book, The Last Lecture. I found his everyday wisdom an inspiring reminder of what is truly important in life. Like Randy, I won the parent lottery in being adopted and raised by my parents. They did a remarkable job making a family out of strangers - and a family that is closer than most. They've stuck it out through some rough stuff and never given up on each other or us as a family. Very few people these days can say their parents have been married for over 40 years, but I am part of that small group of people.

 Aside from being remarkable people, my dad and Randy have something else in common too. My dad was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, the 4th deadliest cancer in the world. While doctors have given us a 6 -11 month time frame to enjoy time with my dad, my dad has the most wonderful positive spirit.

Here's what I mean  - 
  When he found out that something was wrong, he told me he "I have a plumbing problem."  (The very first sentence of the Last Lecture is "I have an engineering problem.")  

When he found out it was too far along to make him eligible for the difficult yet-often-odds-improving Whipple Operation, he celebrated not having to undergo surgery.

  On the same day, the surgeon recommended chemo and gave him the usual life expectancy for someone with his stage of cancer (6 months - a year-ish), he celebrated that he has some time with friends and family. After all, the reality of life is anything can happen to anyone at any time. My dad's father passed away from a sudden heart attack in his early 60's, leaving his wife and children largely unprepared to be on their own.  

But knowing that we're all mortal and staring down the barrel of it are two very different things.

Emotions of it have been a roller coaster, but we're all staying very hopeful. My Sailor has been there for me, and most of the time, I'm able to be positive about it. After all, if ANYONE can beat that 16% of folks who make it over a 18 months, my dad is one of them by attitude alone.  (He's also in good health otherwise.)

My dad's approach to all of this is really inspiring me. After all, it's how we choose to react to difficult situations that prove who we really are. When push comes to shove - I guess we Munderloh's reach towards whatever light we can find and hang on tight.

   At the same time, I'm reminded of the value of our time with loved ones. Homesickness hits me pretty hard lately. We've decided to move the wedding to Southern California in August (rather than Florida in Feb. 2013) to give us the best chance of having a great memory with my dad. It's funny how the little details brides fuss over become far less important. While a Disney wedding was a dream for me, a bigger, far more powerful dream is doing this with my dad.  I can't be more grateful to have wonderful friends and family in my life to support me. Every child knows their parents won't be around forever, but it's something no one really considers.

  As I stumble through, I couldn't be more grateful for the hugs and messages that help me not feel alone through all of this, and the power of family and friends.


  1. J,
    Sending you hugs and a ton of love during this tough time. I am thinking of you and your dad. He sounds like such an an amazing man.

  2. First - congratulations on the house! Home ownership is wonderful and trying at times for sure. Glad that things are working out for you on that front.

    Second - I am sorry to hear about your Dad's condition. That's a tough one. Tons of thoughts, prayers and Pixie Dust for him, you and your family. I was blessed with fabulous parents that were married for over 40 years as well, and have both now passed so I do understand. There's nothing that makes it easier, but you're right to celebrate every moment with him that you can - those memories can never be taken away. As for the Disney wedding - vow renewal in 10 or 20 years - you can still have that Disney wedding it just may be changed up a bit.

    Hang in there kiddo!