Category Archives: Jewish

A Night with ‘Harriet Craig’


This past weekend, we took the opportunity to motor  to Mount Dora, Florida.  Funny how the last two weekends have developed for us; two weekends ago we were on the verge of heading to the hospital, this past weekend, we are traveling to Mount Dora.  It is difficult to know just what to expect when you are dealing with cancer.

Photo Credit: The Bow-Tie-Guy

Why Mount Dora, Florida you ask?  Going back to their days in Manhattan, ‘The Little One’ has a friend of 60+ years living in Mount Dora.    Mount Dora is a little town just north of Orlando, known for its quaint antique shops.   It is a beautiful town and surprisingly, has plenty of things to do.  But this was not a  weekend for tourism, this was a weekend of storytelling and laughter!

With over 60 years of friendship behind them, the conversation was unrestrained.  Names from the past,  (celebrities to boot!) stories that never ended.  To them, yesterday was today and tomorrow will come: it was a beautiful experience.   Finally the name…’Harriet Craig’ was blurted out and the laughter got more pronounced.   Harriet Craig was a nickname  given to ‘The Little Ones’ friend years ago because of his constant need to clean the apartment he shared in Manhattan with his partner of over 40 years.  Apparently, ‘Harriet’ just could not stand a dirty ashtray, one flick of the ash and up Harriet would go to clean the tray; always in constant motion, always on top of the conversation.  Once I learned why Harriet Craig, I understood the connection to the character in the movie as the villa was in impeccable condition!   As we moved on to dinner, it was easy to see who was in charge…Harriet Craig!     

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Harriet Craig is a 1950 movie played by the legendary Joan Crawford.  The movie credits go like this… ‘Domineering Harriet Craig holds more regard for her home and its possessions than she does for any person in her life. Neurotic perfectionist Harriet Craig (Crawford) makes life miserable for everyone around her.’  While the description of the character in the movie does not accurately depict ‘The Little Ones’ friend, the metaphor is there in order to create the ‘sting.’

I was told that I was not old enough and privileged enough to call him ‘Harriet Craig!’

Their stories sounded quite familiar to that what you would hear today. If you are a ‘Sister’ you know what I mean. Long standing friends reminiscing about their past, grateful for their partners, their friendship and their freedom to be who they are.  Gay Marriage, Equal Rights and the sorts, all talked about in their day, just not in the volume that we hear today.   

Yet…Who Are They?

They are two close friends, in separate (gay) relationships, lasting over 40 years each, which is quite the accomplishment, no matter what side of the fence you are on!  Yet these accomplishments often go unnoticed in our society as we here more about what’s wrong with gay relationships than what’s right about gay relationships.  They are your uncles, cousins,  they are your friends…

Who Are They? 

Photo Credit: Unknown

They are your neighbor right next door.  We have all heard the phrase…’home is where the heart is.’  That phrase applies to everyone’s home, not just a selected few.

Our friend in Mount Dora is just a few years older than ‘The Little One’, leads an active life, accepted by his cohorts, active in his neighborhood, has dinner with his neighbors and volunteers at hospice.   He is your neighbor. 

Who Are They? 

Stonewall Inn 1969 Photo Credit Diane Davies

They are two men who lived not only during the time of the Stonewall Riots, they lived in the mist of the Stonewall Riots where  friends of them were killed just for being who they are.  The riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States.   They are your pioneers…

This weekend, when you see all the stores on the news about Gay Pride weekend, remember those Gay Seniors who live alone and cannot get to the parade.  Remember those Gay Seniors who still live in fear; Remember those gay seniors who lived and worked in the trenches in order to bring LGBT equality issues of today to the forefront.

And finally, remember the thousand upon thousand of Gay Seniors who have lived their life in committed and long lasting relationships only to be denied their equal rights.

 Who Are They?   

They are your American Seniors, who just happen to be Gay.

Photo Credit: Webshots

You See…We might have Cancer; but Cancer does not have us!’

Photo Credit: The Bow-Tie-Guy

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Caregivers…”Never Alone”


One of the many things that I have missed while being away from Fort Lauderdale for the past four years has been congregation at The Sunshine Cathedral .  While attending worship services this past Sunday, the senior Pastor  Reverend Durrell Watkins,  preached on a topic that really hit home for me: his sermon was entitled, “Never Alone”.

What I know is that prayer connects us to all the prayers of eternity and to all the people who have ever prayed and so the very act of prayer is a reminder that we are not alone, and if we are not facing the challenges of life alone, then hope, peace, and joy are always possible and that’s pretty miraculous.”   Reverend Durrell Watkins Sunday April 22, 2012.

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Florida arrival


We arrived safe and sound in Deerfield Beach this week. While we miss our family and friends in St. Louis, We are both thankful to be in South Florida.

This afternoon we are visiting the primary care physician; Monday the cardiologist and Tuesday the Oncologist. The report today at the PCP has been great. There is weight gain, all the critical numbers are good. The doctor is quite pleased, and so are we…This has been a remarkable recovery!

It’s great to share our sunshine with you from the Sunshine State!

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Thankful!


We have plenty to be thankful for today on this beautiful Christmas morning and wanted to share our gratitude with you.

Our journey has just begun; pleased with the outcome of the pet scan we still have a long way to go in order to build up strength in order to keep the big ‘C’ at bay. We have quite a bit more work to do!

For all those who are experiencing the trauma of cancer in your life know of our heart felt love and support.

For all the care givers know that your love and commitment never goes unnoticed!

Merry Christmas to all and
‘Thank You’ for reading ”The Purple Jacket.’ We look ahead with anticipation, courage and thankful for the love and support of our family and friends.

We have cancer; but cancer does not have us!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and peace and love to all.

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PET Scan… Day One


 

Our drive to Florida was uneventful; today all the events begin.

“The Lit20111212-095007.jpgtle One” is now in enduring his second PET scan which will take just about an hour and a half to complete. As we left the house today (sunny and 80 degrees in Florida…what were we thinking four years ago!) we talked openly about the events of this week and how we will go through this process together.

I am amazed at how brave he is as he goes through these tests. For someone who claims to be non-spiritual, he is grounded in his thoughts and accepting in his realty. There is a calmness in him that is truly remarkable: I am honored to be a part of this process.

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Being in a ‘mixed’ relationship (Jewish /catholic) which also happens to be inter-generational (May to December) poses for a lot of interesting experiences and conversations. Yet in all my years of seminary training and ministerial experiences, I have never come across someone like ‘The Little One’ who has dealt with his health calamities like he has.

There are no lamentations, no blame; just an acceptance of the reality of life. For someone like me who has a bad habit of worrying about things that I can’t control, his sense of spirituality has been a lesson that no seminary was able to teach me.

At the end of this week, we will have a better understanding of where this chapter in our lives is leading us. We can’t control the results and you know, that’s OK because the best way to deal with the results is with a clear sense of reality. The serenity prayer comes to mind!

Life is meant to be lived; don’t let love and commitment pass you by, no matter what shape or form it is in.
When there is love, there is a sense of spirituality that is not defined by religious beliefs or society norms. It’s just two people, who’s roads collided to be as one.

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Filed under Caregiving, Esophagus Cancer, Jewish, LGBT Couples, PET Scan, radiation

November – National Care Givers Month


November is National Care Givers Month!

 We all know some one who is a caregiver, whether we find ourselves taking care of a loved one, know someone who takes care of a loved one, or even if we have heard an inspritational story on the news.

 In today’s busy world it can be easy to forget to show our appreciation to those who make a difference in our lives and the lives of others everyday. As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving, let us give thanks to those who choose to spend their days serving others.

“Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”
Alan Cohen

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Downsizing


While we know that the tumor has been downsized by the radiation and chemotherapy treatments, we have taken a long look at our personal belongings and have started the process of downsizing in this area too.  So far, the experience has been quite cathartic.

How much ‘stuff’ does one really need to be comfortable in life?  China that has never been used, kitchen gadgets (well, except for the Tumor Extractor!), glasses, roasting pans; yikes where did all this stuff come from?   And better yet… what really is the need?

Funny as it seems, when I was in the seminary those little rooms we lived in seemed so small…now as I look back at that experience, living austerely has its benefits.  Thomas Merton does know what he is talking about!

Cancer is a life changing experience for all who are involved in it.  We have grown closer because of the disease and have I have come to a reality check with my life.   You see, what is important is not how many items you collect, rather what is important is how many lives you touch.   The last few years I have lost touch with my own reality; cancer does have its peculiar benefits.

As the green leaves transition to beautiful autumn colors, we are in a transition mode as well.  What we do for ourselves dies with us.  What we do for others will ever be immortal.  I am honored and proud to be a caregiver, it is one of the most remarkable experiences in life.  I am also grateful for the reality check that our downsizing has provided to us.  May the ‘Little One’s’  health continue to improve; let the downsizing begin!

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The Tumor Extractor just $19.99


We have all seen those gadget that they sell on TV… It seems that all those gadgets sell for just $19.99 and better yet, all these gadgets are a must need for every household!

As I was preparing waffles for breakfast this morning I came across a new product called ‘The Tumor Extractor’

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Simply apply to the area of the tumor and all your troubles will be gone!

‘The Little One’ and I enjoyed a great laugh when I presented him with our new ‘Tumor Extractor’ for just $19.99 and just think…we only spent $10,000 on chemo and radiation! (Of course Monty Python’s Spamalot is playing in the background.) Every cancer patient and caregiver wishes there was something as quick and simple as ‘The Tumor Extractor’ to remove cancer from the body. But what is available to every cancer patient and caregiver is hope, love, support and humor. That is the true Cancer Extractor!

While Each one of us deals with the realty of cancer in a different way, we want to look on the bright side of life!
Yesterday is gone, today is here, not sure about tomorrow. Today we are enjoying our new ‘Tumor Extractor’ even if it will only help us make waffles.

It is hope that let us stand problems…but our beliefs let us finds solutions.

Happy Sunday! And remember… ‘Always look on the bright side of life!’

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