I spent last Friday with Linda, my friend of three decades and change. The crazy rug weaver I occasionally accompany to shows. Friday I showed up for lunch, and since I won’t eat chipped beef on toast, we went to a breakfast all day diner, and took a booth for the afternoon. We stayed so long the pie delivery came, and I had coconut cream.
Last July, while I was at Ann’s house, I found a missed call message from Linda. “Be in touch.” She’s cryptic at the best and worst of times, so I dismissed it. When I returned, several attempts to get together, including a trip to buy weaving supplies, fell through. In August she called me. “I really wanted to tell you this in person, but it seems that’s not to be, so...”
That was six months ago. Friday I leaned back in the diner booth and said “Can I tell Blogland about you, now?” This from the blogger who has spilled it about everyone she knows, generally without their previous knowledge. I figure by now everyone knows it could be their turn any day. “Cannot believe you even asked,” Linda replied.
Linda and I were friends long before she became a widow. It often turned out she and Dick were staying in the same motel as I was in, and she would come over to “talk shows.” Actually, we smoked the air blue and talked every subject on the face of the earth. I know she went back and blamed the aroma on me. I doubt her former smoker husband believed it.
You could not imagine two more unlike people than Linda and me. Politically, she is right of conservative, believes in guns, but not in taxes or welfare. In her defense, she came by it honestly. She grew up on a farm, where her parents worked hard for their living and put their faith in themselves and friends, not the government. The only person I know who solved an offensive street light problem by shooting it. So, for thirty odd years, we simply agree to disagree. We even don’t talk about it anymore.
That phone call six months ago…Linda has lymphoma. Stage four this, Stage three that. It was discovered during another routine exam. The good news, lymphoma aside, she is a very healthy woman. Her only symptom was tiredness. Her oncologist said that though her insides were a cloud of encroaching disease, she was healthy enough to be aggressive in treatment; he felt he could put her in remission, probably for another ten years.
Linda, formerly a nurse, married many years to a physician, now an artist who works the colors she always heard and smelled and tasted…would you believe is a skeptic. Side effect of rabid Republicanism, but I’ve never told her that. “It’s ATTITUDE!” I preached. Get your attitude on!
She embarked on six months, six rounds of lymphoma kicking chemo attitude. Three or four days one week pumped full of drugs the rest of us hope we never encounter, or never encounter again, then one week of never waking up, except to be sick, then a week of feeling reasonably social, then a good week, then back again to week one.
At the end of the third month Linda had a CAT scan that showed every little lymphoma bastid half its previous size, or smaller. “Woo-Hoo,” from friend Joanne, who announced it half gone. Think about that—within weeks of its final assault to over half gone.
She’s down to the last treatment, in another two weeks, then a PET scan to survey the bodies all over the field of battle. I see all those little dead grey lymp lumps, expired. They used to be big grey balloons, squeezing the bejammers out of her insides, and now they are little expired, pea sized lumps. Ha. Take that.
Linda doesn’t have that confidence. Maybe because she sees everything in color, and cannot imagine grey lumps. Maybe it’s the chemo. “Poison,” she says. Five months on, it’s taken a toll on her body. Worse, on her brain. The stuff banishes color, she says. She has not made a wild and crazy rug in months, but she has a full show schedule this year to stock for. What will she do with a full inventory of boring rugs?
Her daughter has been her main support all these months, there that evil first week and checking in the next three weeks. In truth, Linda has a small army moving her down the road. But a few more cheers will certainly help. Linda reads my blog, and frequently comments. You know, the one with the opinion. It would be nice to see thirty comments: One More Time, Linda, with Attitude.
I could not see how to weave in these pictures coherently, so here they are, the attitude sidebar:
Linda, her daughter, Cara and me, thirteen years ago. Linda was month one of defeating breast cancer.
Now, this is the kind of attitude that kicks breast cancer in the butt, wouldn't you agree. It will work on lymphoma, too.
Remember last fall, when we nearly froze to death in our Dollar Store hoodies at Art 'n' Apples. It was the next to last show before chemo began. The oncologist was not pleased, but that didn't stop Linda. I had a long list of possibilities; if any one occurred, I was to shove her in her van and drive straight back to Cleveland. My personal plan was to hire an airplane.
A couple months ago Linda put the color on her head. Whatever works.
By last Friday it was fading. To everyone who wonders what Linda will do next, you heard it here first: red, purple and orange won't be on top of her head, they will be all over. But, will it be back to front or side to side?