The Business of Life mourns with, and for, the people of Japan.
I was once the reluctant exchange student. To Japan.
I wanted to go to Germany. At sixteen, the prospect of drinking beer openly and freely on a boondoggle of a summer excursion was, needless to say, tempting. But that particular summer, a few nasty bombers blew up some clubs where Americans like to hang-out, and my mom, hip to my ways, made a strategic decision to send me to the Land of Rising Sun. My father, a huge Japanophile, just wished he could hitch a ride…
Did you know you can buy beer there on the sidewalk, in vending machines?
Did you also know, your average 16 year-old American teenager is mistaken for a 22 year-old all the time.
ALL. THE. TIME.
So after initially hating it, I came to embrace Japan.
And then her people and history.
Sure the prospect of having fun (and I did let me tell you) was my mind’s entrée into Japan, it was the catalyst for my growing-up — the moment that you see outside of just you, your needs and wants, and start connecting with the cosmos. Appreciate.
I guess I really started to “see”.
A true “A-ha!” moment at its goofy best, I saw Japan as so full of wonder and possibility:
These people are lovely and kind.
These people worship beauty in the simple.
These people think of others before themselves.
These people “feast with their eyes first, then with the mouth,” as one of my host grand-father once said. Beauty is a valued part of every day action and activity.
These people have great electronics. Oh yeah.
So to wake-up to a Japan torn by quake and tsunami was… heart-breaking. They believed long ago that the islands of Japan rode on the back a giant catfish named Namazu, and when the fish thrashed about, the land shook.
It thrashed today.
I pray for them.
I pray for my lovely host families. I pray for my business school friends from Japan. I hope they are safe. I pray for the people of Japan and the surrounding areas affected.
To help, check out USA Today’s page on “How to help the victims of the Japanese Earthquake,” with links to Red Cross and other organizations that are on-site right now, helping.
The Business of Life ponders the age-old question… are you good or lucky?
I once had a curmudgeonly Business school professor that barked the question, often, “Soooo… are you good or just lucky?”
Usually to me. And I think I was quite often the latter. (I know false modesty, but it felt appropriate at this point.)
As I watch my twins grow, their personalities so very distinct — almost to the extreme — I see this come into play, but in an different way ….
Do you learn the easy or the hard way?
I mean how many times do you need to make a mistake for it to take and it not be repeated? Or do you absorb advice and circumvent the mistake in the first place?
Do you learn the hard way? The easy way? Are you receptive to critique?
For full disclosure I’m the hard way. Younger I was hated criticism, I took it personally. ”I’ll do it myself” was a classic Betsy-ism: I rebuked help and taught myself how to swim at four. But I also am a late bloomer most senses of the word. I could have spare myself a great deal of pain, frustration and set-backs had I been even a wee-bit more receptive and acute. One of my children is this to the extreme — and it is pure nature. Super-über responsible from birth, a genius at social cues– and super sensitive, giving and tentative to a fault. She slows down, looks then carefully steps over to the safest spot. My other is hard all the way, but completely fearless, creative problem-solver and mad fun. He runs, leaping gleefully into the abyss. He’ll figure it out along the way.
Good or Lucky? Hard or Easy? The jury is out here. I believe that per the personality, there is optimal balance to be sought. Time and experiences are the teachers here. I think my job is to make sure my daughter pushes her comfort zone to take the chances making up the joy/excitement of being alive and to make sure my son doesn’t not push too hard (e.g. stay alive, not too-terribly banged up).
I watch with interest…
The Business of Life is sometimes saying good-bye… until later.
And for Heaven’s sakes… do it in style.
This Friday I say good-bye to my father. Bag-pipes, a no-black policy are a part of the send-off worthy of a man that loved life, cherished the written word and the exchange of ideas.
He also like Wagner, AC/DC, Nina Simone and Enya. Go figure…
He often took the road less traveled and throughly enjoyed himself silly do it.
I will miss him.
Some favorite pictures of Dad….
A few days ago the decision was made for my father to go home. To die.
I am going to California, as soon as weather allows, to be with him.
I can think of no tougher time than now.
I can think of no more heartbreaking moment than the cerebral act of letting go.
It also doesn’t get more personal than the passing of a loved one. And I take this very, very personally.
But, I cannot think of a better option for my father than this.
Death is a part of life, I’ve come to figure out that the processes of dying is also a part of the process of living.
It doesn’t make it easier.
I could never figure out… well not figure out… but maybe the better word is appreciate, Courtney Love’s album title “Live Through This,” released days after the suicide of Kirk Cobain. I do now, because that’s exactly what you have to do… live through this… and make sure you come out the other side intact. Not bitter. Not damaged. Not back to normal — you can’t expect that — but with your sanity and wits intact. I still have to get up, I still have the little ones to dress, feed, help with their 20 mins of reading a night, and make sure that lunch isn’t a fistful of Oreos and a juice box (though I don’t think my nutrition lately has been much better.)
But I see how the next few weeks are going to play out….
It’s as if there’s a tidal wave I can see far off. It’s been there, but now it’s coming straight at me, the water has receded from the beach, exposing miles of barren, skeletal sand. Now the wave is closer, much closer and it’s cresting higher and higher.
I can’t outrun it.
I can’t seek shelter.
It will hit. And hit hard.
So here I am. Bracing myself for it.
When dealing with the crappy side of The BusinessofLife, it is best to try to look for the bright side. Or at least try to laugh.
Back from California. Back from seeing my father.
There is no easy way to say this, but my father’s life is coming to an end. We’ve stopped all treatment, focusing on letting his last remaining days be as comfortable as possible, someplace where he’s close to my Mom. There is no way around it but it sucks. Sucks. Sucks. Sucks.
I’ve spent the better part of the last week and a half digesting this. Unable to do anything but barest of bare minimums and I’ve been missing apts, swimming classes, not returning phone calls, and most obviously to you, not blogging. I wish I was the type in crisis to hunker down and work, or to not eat and lose the weight I seem to not be able to get rid of (it’s happened in the past so I’m, like, “what the HELL?!?!”) but I’m like a zombie. Imagining myself as a slow moving slow, possibly moaning, probably un-showered, and with a blank stare on my face, zombie.
I’ve gone through the process of grieving before. Usually I keep it together, stop eating (oh hell-o dear, sweet size 2 pants!) and then FREAK when I see something that reminds me of that person: scarf, wine, a meal, a place.
This seems to be different. I’m handling it different. Maybe because my father is still alive and is in the process of dying. Perhaps the confusion is there. I don’t know.
But I’m grateful to have seen him and to be with him and my mother. A hug. A kiss. A smile. These are treasures that I’m packing away forever.
I’m spending this week looking for The Bright Side. Of Life.
“Cause living doesn’t stop.
Joy can be found.
Ahh and this somehow seems fitting… I’ve been humming “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”…
The Business of Life is sometimes about sticking up for yourself.
Still in California. Still at the hospital. Still hanging out with Dad, post-brain surgery.
What LeBetsy is finding out, from my experience with my Dad, both post-surgery and prior with his cancer treatment, is that you much always be on. On the case I mean. Making sure you are on top of the needs.
My father treatment here at UCI Medical Center has been pretty outstanding. Phenomenal in fact. He’s been with them, with various doctors and treatments from the beginning, almost from the first moment the melanoma was discovered.
From surgery to surgery, radiation to chemotherapy my Mom has been running the gamut, since we’ve been here my sister and I’ve been trying my best to help. And it has been really trying.
As I tweeted and FB’ed, the biggest lesson learned at my Dad’s bedside is that one must firmly advocate for their (or in this case a loved one’s) well-being. The moment you assume that someone (Drs. in this case) knows what’s best, is the moment you cede control of your destiny. I bet it also, looking back, probably the moment that most things go to hell in a hand-basket for people.
Not that we stopped being Dad’s advocate, it’s that you have to be almost fanatical about it. Ask all the questions, follow-up always, confirm constantly. Never relent.
It’s exhausting. And I’m only a visitor here.
My mom’s been tirelessly and fanatically advocating for my father for over 2 years.
Recently we had one small episode where we assumed his neuro team had informed his oncologist about the brain surgery. Decisions were being made and we assumed (again, that word!) that these included input from his fabulous oncologist.
We were wrong.
No blame, Dad’s surgery was 2 days after Christmas. Xmas- New Year’s is a crazy time. And things fall through the crack– like my father’s cancer dr being informed. It’s all been fixed. Dad’s in the right place and being monitored by Neuro, cancer and endronoligists — which is exactly what we want.
But I learned a valuable lesson.
You are you’re own best advocate. Ask the dumb questions, assume nothing and always follow-up.
For you and your family.
A part of The Business of Life is seeing your parents through the decline…
A week ago my Dad had a tumor the size of a tangarine taken out of his brain.
51 stitches and…
a 7+ hour New Year’s Day plane flight later…
We find ourselves look at our father in a new light.
As a parent.
The brain is an amazing thing. I mean they took out a tangerine from his frontal lobe. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Would he recognize me? Would he be conscious? Alive? Should I pack my trusty black dress in case? Should I have plan B — at least sketched out in broad strokes — if I have to stay longer?
A week? What about a month?
I’ve gone to bed (or not) with these visions swimming in my head, only to know that my mother probably has the echos of much worse. And that keeps me up even longer. Being 3 thousand miles away the distance only heightens it. A picture is a thousand words, but sometimes being in the presence of someone so much can go unspoken. You can assess them, feel the energy of the them and — especially with someone like your Mom (or at least my Mom) — know pretty instantaneously where she stands.
Having arrived at John Wayne Airport (I know, I know, the name cracks me up everytime) there I matched up with my sister, who’d arrived earlier from the state of Washington.
And so it began.
3 Days later, here’s what I know, so far:
So all the kings horses and all the kings men are making the journey of trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, as best we can, after the fall.
I really hate saying it like that … but it’s the truth.
Sometimes The Business of Life is All About the Boogie…
We’ve survived Holiday 2010.
Congrats all around. (High-Fives it.)
Looks like LeBetsy will be off shortly to California to visit my family. As you may know, LeDad is battling Stage IV cancer, he had surgery 2 weeks ago and last Sunday had emergency brain surgery to excise 2 tumors. He’s in the best of care, Mom’s on the case, but circumstances necessitate the visit.
And for that reason it kinda bittersweet.
So it’s not all gloom, little ones. Because at these times we need to clutch onto the bits of joy that drift by. So as we close out 2010, a fave, DJ Earworm (seriously, check him out on YouTube, he’s wickedly talented) offers us the perfect boogie break. Happiness sometimes is a few stolen moments of groove-shaking, so shake your money-makers to his mash-up “United States of Pop 2010.”
Enjoy my friends. See you on the other side.
Sometimes The Business of Life is… worrying about your sick Dad.
Today my father goes under the knife.
Stage IV Skin cancer, he’s been waging a valiant battle against this horrible disease for over 2 years. Chemo, radiation. Surgeries and hearing loss. Neuropathy and an early retirement. His bravery (and my Mom’s) is inspiring. Together, they are love and hope and strength. For each other and for their youngest daughter, who wishes them nothing but peace and lightness from the endless rounds of doctor’s apts., treatments, tests and waiting.
God bless my Dad and Mom. God be with him and protect him during his surgery.
I love them both.
The Business of Life includes… putting the kids to work (and being Thankful for it.)
The Toaster, my 7 year old, way too wise and way too fabulous daughter wrote a Thanksgiving story last night. At my prompting. To keep her occupied, whilst waiting out her twin brother’s hockey skills practice.
The challenge: Thanksgiving. A girl. Paris. And a turkey.
Well she did it right quick and I promised I’d post it for view here. Let it be known, spelling is not her forte. So when in doubt go phonetic or use context clues.
Once apon a time a girl named Molly livd in Peris and it was amost thanksgiveing and had to bhy a tucky it is so hard to bhy one said Molly. She picke one up and tock it home and soud it to her mom and dad. It loked beitudful mom cook the tucky it look yum. mmmm siad Molly and set the tadl. Wow said mom and had a yummy thackgiving.
What can I say. Mission fulfilled.
May we all have a Happy Thackgiving!