The Healing Miracle

Chimayo Sept 2004
With Grandma and Grandpa in September of 2004

Fourteen years ago this month, my parents fulfilled a promise to my grandmother.  If she recovered from another serious hospital stay, and she could recoup her strength, we would take her to El Santuario de Chimayo.  For those who have yet to make the pilgrimage and for those that have not even heard about it, the village of Chimayo is home to a church that holds a well of holy dirt.  People travel from all over the world because they believe by rubbing the holy dirt on the area of your body that ails you, you can be healed.  Some drive, some bike and some even walk.  They walk for miles, even hundreds of miles.  The walls of the rooms of the church are lined with photos of those that have made the pilgrimage to find healing as well as crutches from those who were healed and were no longer in need of them.  The church is surrounded by gift shops in which you can buy candles to lift a prayer and small containers to take the dirt home.

My father did not expect miracle cures from the holy dirt, but he was a dutiful son and a man of faith as well.  Be believed in the power of the place.  He found healing in the

Dad at Chimayo Sept 2004
Dad in Chimayo in September of 2004

surrounding Sangre de Cristo mountains, where he felt closer to God.  From the creek that ran behind the church to the fresh air in his lungs, he felt the Holy Spirit more outside the walls of the church than within it.  (He also found spiritual healing in the snacks and the chile you can purchase from the local growers and merchants.  I am my father’s daughter.)

Since that trip, I have lost both my grandparents and my father.  I’m older, but don’t feel wiser.  I feel beaten and tired.  My job has caused so much stress on my body and my mind, not to mention all the new chronic illnesses I have accumulated over the years.  My husband, also plagued with physical ailments, had never made the short journey to Chimayo.  Because this had been a pilgrimage of utmost importance to my family, I decided to carry on the tradition.

My husband and I tasted powdered and crushed chile out of pistachio shells, we took pictures and talked with other tourists.  When it was time to enter the church it was eerily quiet as pilgrims lifted their prayers.  I sat in a pew and prayed.  My husband and I went into the little room off to the side of the altar to collect our holy dirt.  Do I believe that this dirt from this well can heal my body?  No.  I do believe in the power of faith, and the powerful way our minds can heal our bodies, but I did not transfer this belief to dirt.  Did I rub the holy dirt on my body?

Hell yes.

When I pressed the dirt to my husband’s forehead and his neck, for a split second I prayed with every cell in my body that it would actually work.  I prayed for a miracle.

When we walked next door to the Santo Nino Chapel, we looked into the prayer room that again was filled with pictures of those seeking healing, but this time it was all small children.  Trinkets and booties were everywhere, representing the lives of those that came out of great faith to find comfort, peace, healing…a miracle.  I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to all of these children.  Did they get better?  Did they find their miracle?

I traveled to this place to find my own healing.  I wanted to breathe the mountain air and find some peace of mind.  I wanted stress relief.  What I came away with was another perception of this place.  To me, the miracle wasn’t in the dirt or in the holy water.  It wasn’t even in the air.  It was in the love that led to the journey.  Each one of the people in those pictures was loved so much by someone that they made the journey to this remote little village in the middle of nowhere to lift prayers and retrieve a miracle for them. I felt that love with my grandmother and our fulfilled promise to take her to El Santuario, I felt that love when I saw that smile on Dad’s face as he helped her avoid every stone that might make her trip.  I felt that love when I pressed the dirt to my husband’s pain.

My grandmother gave me more than a tradition.  She gave me an act of love that I can now share with my husband.  We all hurt.  We all can break.  But not all of us are loved by someone who will take your hurt to the highest power no matter the distance and make a plea on your behalf.

When you find that…that is your miracle.


Chimayo Sept 2018
El Santuario de Chimayo September 2018



“Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.”
— John Ruskin

During a recent family gathering in which the conversation lead to a discussion on material possessions, I was asked, “Do you get attached to stuff?”  My answer was a quick and easy, “No.”

Oh, I am by no means above wanting things.  Just check my Pinterest boards.  But I do not attach sentimental value to things anymore.  I don’t think I’m cold about it.   What has turned me apathetic to my belongings has been all the moving Fiancé and I have done in the past few years.  When you have to pack all your stuff, you realize how much you don’t need.  And how much you hate to pack it.

Fiancé and I live the simple life when it comes to our stuff now.  If we’re not using it, we’re donating it.

He who dies with the most toys still dies, right?  Stuff is just stuff!  With one exception.

I do have a material possession that I am attached to. My “one thing.”  Everything else precious to me is intangible – in memories and thoughts – except my one thing.

Cootie.  Cootie the bear.

Mom and I made Cootie when I was young enough to still go crazy over stuffed animals, but not too young enough to help.  Mom found a pattern, sewed him together, and I stuffed him and helped sew him up.  His last seam is all too easily noticed, reflecting my talents as a seamstress/bear maker.  His eyes are slightly misaligned.  But, he can look happy, tired, angry and confused.

Cootie moves to California
Cootie moves to California

As I near 30 years old, Cootie still goes with me on all major treks in life.  He moved with me out of my parents home, out of state, out of that state, and all the way back again.  He gets seat belted, because my “one thing” has to be remain safe.  He takes care of me at night by keeping danger away.  True story.

Cootie hates sharing the road trip with a cat
Cootie hates sharing the road trip with a cat

Even though he is made of materials found in Walmart’s craft section, he is worth more than gold.  He represents the bond between my mother and me.  If I have a daughter, Cootie will be placed in her care, to make sure she is safe and watched over.  Somehow, through his misaligned eyes, she will be watched by me and my mother.  It gives me comfort to know that Cootie will be with her in the future.

After I die.  I still need him for a while yet.  He’s my Cootie, my “one thing.”

Think about it!  Do you have one material possession that means more than the others?  If so, comment below!

Back East

NM Landscape

“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.” 
— William Faulkner

Three and a half years ago, I left my home state in the firm belief that I would not move back again.  Heading west, I knew I would return to New Mexico for visits, but that was it.  Now I am back in the Land of Enchantment for the foreseeable future.

The time I spent in New Mexico while living elsewhere was richer.  I became more aware of the differing cultures and my own roots.  Even the desert landscape seemed more vibrant.

I moved away for the sake of following opportunity, and I have no regrets for doing so.  I feel everything happens for a reason and I leave it to God to direct me to rewarding successes and mistakes to learn from.  I returned for family at a time when my family faces new challenges and my last opportunity came to an end.

The decision to move back was not easy emotionally, but it was an easy one to make.  Fiancé and I knew it was time to start over, to be with family and carve out a new path.  Time to step back, take stock of what is really important, and start again from a firm foundation.  It is also a time to look forward  years down the road and think of what we would regret more – moving closer to family or staying away?  Staying apart from family still kept our thoughts with them.  We couldn’t help but think that we should be helping, doing something, if only by being closer.  Sleep was difficult and the feeling of being orphaned was prevalent in each day.

There is a lot to do and figure out.  A lot of work ahead of us.  We are not home quite yet, at least geographically.  What I have developed is a sense of home apart from a place, but in a person.  Fiancé is my home, no matter where I am.  We’ll move forward together…no matter where we move.

2012 Christmas Manifesto

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” 
~Roy L. Smith

I’m not going Christmas shopping this year.

Sorry, friends and family that usually get stuff from me!

I didn’t really reach a spiritual realization.  I always knew the reason for the season and whatnot.  But along with celebrating the birth of my beloved Savior Jesus Christ for which I owe my entire life and salvation, I also enjoyed getting jam jams from Target and buying new sockies for Mom.

I miss shopping for friends and family and the furkids.  I missed Black Friday shopping for me and Fiance.

Reasons for the shopping abstinence?  Well, the rent is too damn high!  Seriously, the life-changing move Fiance and I made to California included tons of moving expenses coupled with a higher cost of living.  While we are getting on our feet and becoming Californians, we cannot partake in the material aspects of the season.

So, while we are being responsible adults with our finances, we are forced to really appreciate what Christmas is about.  Cookies.

We can fill the void of new things and buying Mr. Coffee Cocomotion machines for our loved ones (whose lives have yet to be changed by this device) by stuffing their faces with fattening cookies.  And cake.  Ingredients can be cheap, just add time and butter.

Also, this forces us to think about our blessings.  I will be with family in December.  I have my Fiance with me to hug me and dream about next year with.  The furkid cares not for new things, but only the box it came in.  Pinterest product boards and Etsy will be there next year, but these moments together are fleeting and must be appreciated for what they are – time together while it is gifted to us.


“The Lord sustains them on their sickbed, and restores them from their bed of illness.”
— Psalm 41:3

Today marks another World Diabetes Day.

November 14th commerates the birth of Sir Frederick Grant Banting, one of the men who discovered insulin, saving millions of lives.  November is Diabetes Awareness Month, in which the diabetes community goes blue, or gray, or blue and gray.  The hope is that our neighbors to which diabetes is foreign will learn something about a disease that impacts hundreds of  millions worldwide, each one differently.

Just keeping up with what is new to learn in diabetes is a full-time job.  (I almost kind of sort of have that job.)  Each person living with diabetes has a unique perspective, a perspective that must be respected, because only one person knows what diabetes is.  It’s their enemy, it’s their greatest motivator, it’s their burden or its their success.  Learning about what diabetes means to different people living with it or caring for someone living with it, has became an ever increasing focus of creating awareness.

This month is also Epilepsy Awareness Month.  I know remarkably little about my own illness compared to the information I have accumulated on diabetes.  In fact, I know few others with epilepsy, enough to count on one hand.  I have more friends with diabetes than I do without.  I know my epilepsy as best I can from tests and discussions with specialists.  I know my epilepsy from how it impacts my daily life, how it impacts people’s opinions of me, and I am quite aware that it could be worse.

This month also marks new types of awareness for me.  I am now more aware of Parkinson’s.  My father was recently diagnosed with a disease I knew absolutely nothing about.  Search by search, I am learning more, becoming more aware, learning about our next steps.  I was also woefully in the dark about cancer, until my sister’s recent diagnosis sent me searching for information.  Information filled with very long words for complicated categorizations, treatments and stages.

At this point, I’m becoming tired of becoming disease aware.  It’s a lot of awareness to take in.

Through the health obstacles I know, all the new ones to learn about,  I found a deeper awareness.  I am more acutely aware than ever how fragile our bodies are, how susceptible to disease they can be, and how important the strength of the spirit is in attaining health.  I am more aware that my family is more important than the next paycheck to pay the bills.  I am more aware that the tight embrace of a new friend can lift an enormous weight of anxiety off the shoulders.  I am aware, through continuous reminders, that God is good, that he is all around us and that something will be learned of new challenges to the body.  Another new awareness to come…to make us stronger and able to lift up others not yet diagnosed..or even aware.

Mom Doesn’t Call Here Anymore

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.”
–Rodney Dangerfield

“I feel like she’s moving on from me.  She’s growing up, and doesn’t need me as much anymore.”

“No she’s not!”

“If your mother didn’t call for days or weeks because she was immersed in her lifelong passion, wouldn’t you feel just a tad bit abandoned?”

“Okay, maybe a little.”

When I came along, my mother either worked from home, or took me everywhere with her.  I was tied to her hip.  Unfortunately, Mom was also tied to careers she wasn’t in love with.  She found things to love about her professional endeavors – people, accomplishments, working towards ideals and helping others.  But it was never it.  She worked really hard, owned her own businesses, lead teams, and always among the sound of,

“Mom, Mom, Mom, Ma, Ma, Mama, Mother, Mom, Mother, Ma, Mama, Mom, Mom…over here, Mom, come here, Mom, Mom.”

“WHAT?!?!?  What do you WANT?!?!?”


It was me and Mom, all the way.

My parents sent me to college, and before I graduated I moved out of the house.  During another transition into independence everything was about packing, deciding where things should go.  I was only moving less than an hour north.  The last items were put in my car, and I turned around, and Mom was shaking her head.

“Oh, crap.  Mom, don’t cry.  I’m going to see you this weekend.”

“I know, I know, I just…I know.”

She hugged me tight.  While I lived just a short drive away, I would see my parents every weekend or every other weekend and talk most days on the phone.  When I moved a state away, we talked on the phone a few times a week.

Then within the span of one week, Mom took over a restaurant, hired staff and opened it.  Boom.  Just like that.  I don’t know how she did it, but she did it.  I was worried at first.  Owning a restaurant is tough, tough, tough.  “Work yourself into the ground” was a phrase that just repeated itself over and over in my head.  But my mother always dreamed of this, in different versions.  Full-service restaurant to bakery, to pizzeria to pizzeria/bakery.  Now she had her own diner.  And she started working…hard.

Most diners are doomed to fail at the beginning, but God blessed my parents with a solid start that they can now build on.  But, my mother barely has time to sleep.  Eating comes in tasting, and phone calls come to me rarely or never.   I felt guilty for not being there for my mom to help.  During a recent road trip to visit family, I got the teeniest taste of the crazy busy and erratic pace of working a diner.  The servers were a great team, like clockwork.  Tables were constantly being turned.  Mom was prepping desserts and meals, baking muffins, delegating tasks, sending people on errands, taking inventory, prepping drinks, greeting customers, acting as cashier, managing staff and us volunteers – all simultaneously.  She didn’t miss a beat.  She wore a chef’s coat and had a twinkle in her eye.  I was there for only a few hours but was completely exhausted.

Before I had this chance to catch her in action, I thought I would have the chance to catch her on a car trip to grab more food and supplies.  She fell asleep in the car.

Before she fell asleep in the car, I did have an old fashioned Mother/Daughter Day.  It was heaven, being able to sit at a table with her and brainstorm on all manner of things.

This is hard for me, letting my mom go a bit to pursue her dreams.  I’m still the kid, and need lots of attention.  (I do have attention deficit disorder in that I simply do not get enough attention.)

In a twist of fate, I now experience the sorrow of separation, but I also get the pride in watching my mother spread her wings.  So, Mom is growing up.  That leaves me with only once choice…

“Mom, mom, mom, ma, mama, mommy, mom, mom, MAAAWWWMMMMAAAAHHH, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom…”

She’ll answer me.  She always does.  And when she askes what I need, what is going on, what is new…


Why I Don’t…

“These days, there are a great many books about childhood trauma and its effects, but at the time all the experts agreed that one should forget about it as quickly as possible and pick up where you left off.”
– Peter Straub

I’m adventurous.  Always open to new and exciting adventures.  Can’t wait to skydive, try new roller coasters, and uh, do, uh outdoorsy type stuff.  Love the stuff!  All about it. 

With this attitude of awesomeness, friends and acquaintances ask me about why I don’t do this or that.  Well, I am stopped in some cases by little childhood traumas.  My stories usually start with, “Well, I was traumatized when…”

I do hope to overcome not my fears, but my very valid concerns, to once again take up activities that gave me pleasure or could in the future.  In the meantime, for reference, I find it might be helpful to list a few of the things I don’t do until that beautiful day, when I can do them.

Why I don’t…

Mountain Bike
I was a late bloomer when it came to learning to ride a bike, but after my dad finally accomplished what then seemed impossible and taught me to ride a bike, I was always on it.   My parents decided to take me to the mountains so I could bike on some of the easy roads.  I think I was about nine or ten years of age.  Tender youth.  Mistake number one was one my dad admits to – we overfilled my tires.  Mistake number two was underestimating the decline on the road.  My parents got in their truck and were going to lead me down the road.  So, I see the truck start to move forward, and I get on my bike.  Truck picks up a little speed, and the bike does to without any effort.  Then, all I remember is seeing dust behind the truck in front of me, and a blur where the pedals usually are.  I couldn’t catch a pedal, so my legs were in the air.  Speaking of air, I had so much coming at me that I can hardly breathe, but between gasps I started screaming for Mom and Dad to stop and save me.  We reached the end of the road, the truck stopped, and I jumped off my bike to the ground.  I was furious.  I started yelling at my parents for foresaking me.  Mom looked surprised, and Dad said they had no idea I needed help.  I said,

“Didn’t you hear me screaming?”

Mom replied, “We thought you were singing!”

“The ‘Mom, Dad, Stop, I’m Going to Die’ song?!?!?”

More than being scared, I was offended that my parents thought my vocal talents were on par with hoarse screaming.  I could have died that day.

Go to the Zoo
Oh yes, they’re pretty and exotic, but some peacocks are pure evil. 

Let me start by explaining that I was raised on a racehorse training facility that had all manner of animals, not just thoroughbreds and quarter horses.  I was a very small child when this happened, but I remember it as if it ’twas yesterday. 

Dad was building a chicken coop, and I was supervising the project.  He was hammering nails.  It was a sunny day.  Dad was wearing a white “work” t-shirt and had just turned to focus on hitting the next nail on the head when…


I felt a huge weight on my shoulders…literally.  I looked at my shoulder and saw a huge claw.  Then came shooting pain in my forehead.  Next thing I remember is being swept up by Dad and he ran into the house.  What had happened (explained to me later) was that a forocious monster of a male peacock known for chasing people without reason (other than his evil inclination to do so) landed on my shoulders and started pecking my forehead.   

Dad sat me on the counter and began to use his shirt as a compress.  I don’t remember pain at all, but facial wounds spurt out a lot of blood.  The sight of the blood, Dad trying to fix the problem and obviously failing (my conclusion because I was seeing blood), had me screaming “MOM!!!” 

Nowadays, when I am dragged to the zoo, I show no interest in the peacocks.  When I see one, I may take a few steps back.  Peacocks are always just everywhere at zoos, so if the zoo lets them run free I am out.  No Sunday at the zoo for me, thanks.  I could have died that day. 

Go Horseback Riding (with a Dog)
The thought of riding a horse with your best friend trotting beside you is a wonderful thought, right?  Well, I’m about to tell you how it can go horribly wrong.

I was a small child on the ranch.  There was a horse named Ernie (see I remember these details so I know they happened).  One of my childhood friends came over and we begged to go riding.  So Dad takes me and my buddy to ride Ernie on the race track.  Just a walk, Dad leading the horse. 

Dad had a white German Shepherd who was a nipper.  Ernie was spirited.  Race track dirt is deep and includes multiple soils to make it “cushy.”  Do I even need to tell the story?  So, Dad is both training Ernie and the dog to BEHAVE.  Well, needless to say, the dog starts nipping at the horse, the horse bucks us off.  My friend is fine but I go head first into the track.  I remember flight, and then an immediate feeling of darkness and suffocation.  Before I can think, I feel Dad’s arms wrap around my waist and tug.  Takes effort but I am pulled out.  Mom is there already.  I  have sand packed in my mouth, up my nostrils and in my eyes, so I was spitting, snorting and blinking like crazy.  Once she realizes I am completely fine, she starts laughing to tears.  Tears of relief, possibly.  But I’m sure the fact that I played an ostrich in real life had something to do with the humor effect.  It took days to get the sand out.  It was in my pores.  I could have died that day.

The last time I went skiing I believe was before I entered kindergarten at age four.  I remember feeling cold, hearing crunchy noises and seeing lots of knees.  No mom.  Mom wasn’t the one that took me. I had no childhood friends yet, and I was excruciatingly shy.  Now at, uh, my age,  I just have this feeling that I will be left on the side of a mountain by myself, scooting down on my bum for at least half a day.  Less a feeling than a prediction.  Skiing before kindergarten without Mom?  I could have died that day.  If there would have been a peacock there – certain death. 

In closing, I better start trying some of the above things before my future kids ask me to take them.  I’ll be outed for sure if I try taking a gun into the free-range peacock exhibit.  What from the above list should I try first?  I think I’ll try swimming.


“It has that thing – the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement- I knew when I was a kid.”
–Walt Disney


My grandfather loved the Jungle Cruise.  Mom said that he got a “kick out of it.”  I could sense that as we waited in a relatively short line (by Disney standards) for an old and original ride, she went back, just a moment, and he was there with us, anticipating climbing on board.

Most families have Disney moments.  That trip to Disneyland with magical memories.  For me and my mom, it’s not a tag line or a commercial.  We make our way back to Disney to reconnect with simple pleasures.  The feeling of being a kid, where anything is possible.

We wonder why anyone in their right mind would take CHILDREN to DISNEYLAND?  Poor parents with strollers and heat and screaming and expense and lines.  Being adults gives the advantage of weaving in and out of crowds, forsaking argument for fun and choosing to eat a pickle for lunch instead of waiting in line for an actual meal.  That pickle was amazing by the way, I regret nothing of paying $3 for it.  Delicious.

Mom remembers going to Disneyland as a kid, way before I was even a thought in her head.  It was fun and exciting!  The first time she took me, I was six years old.  I remember colors, colors in water, the pool at the hotel and then…the trauma.  I was scared to death of the characters.  I  remember knowing that there were people in the costumes, but that didn’t really result in rational thought or behavior for me.  Mom took not only me, but my older friend, two years my senior, who I bothered relentlessly.   She, on the other hand, loved characters and had her autograph book ready.  So, when a character came into view, she shot in one direction and I shot in the other.  This drove Mom nuts, because my friend was running up to a character far away and I was hiding behind the nearest trash can.  How we didn’t get lost is a testament to my Mom.  Now, I don’t why Mom thought it was a good idea.  Maybe it was easier, I don’t know.  But she decided to take me to hell.  The Disneyland Character Breakfast!  I was just about to eat the biggest, most delicious stack of pancakes, and then…I saw him, heading our way.  Goofy.  My heart started racing.  I told Mom and my friend to be quiet and I ducked under the table.  The I heard it.  The sound of betrayal.

“She’s under the table.”

All I saw was a flash of plastic whiskers.  I don’t remember anything after that.  Mom said I screamed.  So, this first trip showed that my mom and I were different kids.  Mom was a calmer kid, apparently, and I was a bit sheltered, a little spoiled perhaps.

Goofy and Mom
Goofy and Me

Three years later, second trip included Dad.  I had the stomach flu.  We lost the car one time, and Mom and I lost Dad many times, but he kept popping back up with ice cream.  Dad was vacationing from health that trip, which resulted in me and mom getting on him about eating too much ice cream, and then me complaining about my stomach, and it was tough.  But, Dad wasn’t a Daddy Downer after all because we took him to the opening of Toon Town.  We decided to check out Chip N’ Dale Treehouse…of Horrors!  We were immediately pushed into a line soon realized was meant only for small children.  Then the stairs somehow became narrower at the top.  We were told to slide down the tube slide.  First me.  Whoosh.  Then came Mom.  Whoosh.  Then we waited.  And waited.  Did Dad already come out and go find ice cream?  Then we started hearing voices from inside the treehouse and they seemed perturbed.  Then we saw them – boots.  Cowboy boots, no less, slowly inching their way down the slide.  Inch by excruciatingly slow inch, grunt by grunt, Dad finally emerged.  I think Mom and I just stood there with our mouths slightly open in shock.  No need to explain we weren’t from California.  That was a true magical memory.  If you say “treehouse” Mom and I burst into hysterical laughter to this day.  If you say “character breakfast”, only Mom does.

Mom and I went back in 2005 to mark the 50 year anniversary of the park’s opening.  Going as adults was the best! Sure, a child’s imagination lit on fire through real encounters is a great thing to behold…yes…but, I am a huge Walt Disney fan, so thinking about the grand opening of the park from a historical perspective and what it has meant to our family was a wonderful experience as an adult.  We were free to do what we wanted when we wanted without the fear of losing people!

This past trip, just a few weeks ago, Mom and I went back to Disneyland because we needed some old fashioned happy.  Work and stress and all the responsibilities of being an adult take their toll.  Mom turned into a kid.  Laughing and screaming.  She actually clapped her hands using only her palms after riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  I was jumping up and down saying, “Omigod, omigod, omigod!”  I pulled her into the 45 minute wait for California Screamin.  She screamed, I laughed.  Our picture showed me covering my eyes laughing and her looking like the Bride of Frankenstein (her words) from the hairspray overuse.

It was just one day, but a day to bond with my mother  because together we can escape the constraints of what’s expected and live in what’s imagined. 

The Worse One

Physical ills are the taxes laid upon this wretched life; some are taxed higher, and some lower, but all pay something.  ~Lord Chesterfield

I’m not a diabetes cop.  I’m not!  I’m a recovering diabetes cop.  Watching my father eat tamales makes me twitch.  I can’t look.  I have to focus on my own food, something else.  Anything else.  Anything to bite my tongue.

My dad appears in my posts quite often.  Poor Dad, I’m always talking about his diabetes.  I don’t remember his diagnosis, but I don’t remember him not having diabetes.  As a child, I didn’t understand his type 2 diabetes.  I knew there were types, I had heard doctors talk about it.  He went into a study when I was a kid to try to better control his blood glucose levels.  He was tired.  Tired from trying, and he wanted to be healthy.  I thought as a kid, whatever type he had, Daddy has to have the worst type ever.  It made him sad, it made him angry, it made him sick, it made his laugh go away.  It made him stomp out of the room in frustration.

My Dad still jokes that all his family left him was diabetes.  He could have prevented his type 2 diagnosis, yes, and if time machines were available, I would go talk to my Dad in his twenties and say, “Listen, I’m from the future.  Creepy how much I look like you, but forget that for now and focus!  Diabetes is awful, and you’re gonna get it!  Do everything you can now!  Find a doctor!  Eat less tortillas and exercise!  Cut out the drinking now, not later!  Go back to the doctor!”  Now having had it for decades, we as a family know that we have to do the best we can.  Dad doesn’t lack for exercise.  He is way more physically active than I am.  He landscapes constantly to this day, spending hours outside doing manual labor.  I remember as a kid, when Dad would have a high blood glucose reading, he would march outside to bring it down.  I’m maniacal with my diet now (another post, possibly), analyzing everything I eat, but Mom didn’t cook like Paula Deen.  We could have been healthier, sure, but everyone is allowed missteps in the form of an unhealthy treat now and then.  My Dad learned over time, what foods were going to spike his blood sugars, and he worked to avoid them.  Never more so than after his heart attack.  Before his heart attack, he had an A+ physical.  Cholesterol – GREAT, lower than mine.  Blood pressure – wonderful!  Boom, heart attack.  Then, he became as crazy as me, afraid to eat anything at first, without reading and re-reading and calling me.

“So, type 1…that is the worse one, right?  Or, er, is it the other way around?”

“Well, actually, they are two different illnesses, that share the same complications *enter elevator speech on autoimmunity*.”

With JDRF, my world became type 1.  I know more people with type 1 (include the care takers, the type 3s in there) than without it.  It boils my blood when people say you can prevent type 1.  It angers me just as much when people say that if only those with type 2 weren’t so lazy…

Dad has a healthy diet, Dad has oral medication, Dad has two blood glucose meters, Dad has insulin, Dad has a team of doctors.  We’ve been working at this together for a long time.  It hasn’t gone away.  Type 2 has a tendency to progress, and when it continued to do so despite our best efforts, Dad went back on insulin, and he’s been crashing in the middle of the night.  Sometimes during the day.  He shares short-term complications with type 1 now, too.  Dad’s insulin producing beta cells are tuckered out, but he still produces insulin.  Not enough, and his body is resistant to it.  It’s erratic, and we weren’t given a schedule to follow for that, so sometimes he’s high and sometimes he’s low.  One thing for certain, I’m consistently worried about him.  Just like anyone with diabetes, anyone who loves someone with diabetes. 

I know people with type 1 who are complication-free, active, healthy and I love hearing about it!  I know people with type 2 – same thing.  Some of these people work hard at managing their diabetes.  Some don’t at all.  So even though, a healthy person with diabetes makes me happy for them, I am still angered by the disease.  Not fair.  Diabetes doesn’t play fair.  Any type.  Everyone has their own, not just their own type, their own diabetes in general. 

I’m a cure crusader, I want type 1 off the planet, goodbye and good riddance!  I also get chills about the research in treatment and complications.  It means a great deal to me as the kid.  I want these things for my Dad, and pray that he will be able to benefit from them.  So he can dance with me at my wedding, and do it pain-free. 

Dad eats about one tamale a year.  The last time I witnessed Dad eating a tamale I also witnessed his blood sugars going through the roof and him feeling truly ill.  Then it’s the inquisition for him.  Did he take his pills?  When?  What else did you eat?  This quiz then moves forward into the second stage of what to do to correct the high.   A sacred culinary tradition, the tamale should be loved for its heritage, its incredible tastiness and its mystical ability to bring people together.  Instead, to me, the tamale = evil starch and fat vessel determined to KILL DADDY.  But Dad still thinks of the tamale in the old way.  So Dad ate his annual tamale at Christmas Eve dinner with the family.  He didn’t spike, not at all.  Why?  Have absolutely no idea.  That’s the world diabetes creates for us.  There is no worse case of diabetes.  Every case is the worse case.  Just because it’s ours. 


For the Love of Dog


“I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.” — Doris Day

On the path of life God has given some incredible aids to enhance the thrill of success, to curb the sting of loneliness, to ease the pain of loss, and to make even the most seemingly insignificant moments exciting.  These aids walk beside us, guard us at night, forgive our faults and love us unconditionally.

No other creature on earth can provide the comfort of a dog.  This month, my grandmother passed away, and the loss was heavy on the family, especially her devoted husband.  It was her time, and she passed peacefully, but her absence was felt immediately and will be felt in so many future moments, because we all love her so much.  Among all those she left behind, were two furchildren.

In the days after her death, my grandfather would go outside and hold his dogs close to him.  The eldest walked slowly around, looking at all the friends and family that had gathered, and never barked, but with a sincere and understanding look in her eyes, seemed to thank us for coming.  She made sure she slowly approached each table, and she even stood in line for food instead of approaching first.  The younger dog never left her dog house.  The look on her face was one of deep despair.  Without understanding our conversations, she knew.  She just knew.  And she felt pain and loss.

I left my dog Sydney with my parents when I moved to my teeny one bedroom apartment in 2010.  She now has a “pack” that includes my parents’ furkids, PJ and Osa.  My visit was welcomed with the usual jumping, tail wagging and licks.  At one time, I was talking to Mom and petting PJ.  Dad was walking in and out of the room, and PJ would look at him and look at me with a worried expression in her eyes.  She laid down and let out a sigh.  I would pet her and kiss her head.  She was worried about Dad, and she could sense the weight of grief he carried.

Writing my grandmother’s eulogy came to me at 4:30am, so I had to start writing when I could think of words.  When I write, I need quite and concentration.  As the words poured out, I started to weep at the computer, and then I couldn’t see the screen so I had to stop.  Sydney put her head on my knee and looked at me with big brown eyes.  I petted her head.  When she tried to crawl onto my lap, I told her to get down, and she sat at my feet.  A very hyper dog, she never is still for very long without a good hour of play beforehand.  She didn’t play with the other dogs, but remained perfectly still, watching me.  Every time I got up to get something to drink, she would follow me.  She followed me all over the house as I got ready.  When I would look into her brown eyes she would howl and whine and tap her feet.

After we laid my grandmother’s body to rest, the next day I knew we needed to get out and get air.  I demanded we take Sydney to the mountains. She was so excited, and for a day, she allowed us to forget the world we left behind and to just relax and enjoy the beautiful mountain air and desert scenery.  She made us laugh, because in just a year, she has become more out of shape.  She stopped us three times during our hike to find shade and sit down.  I was astonished, because she used to run with me twice that distance every morning. As we neared the end, a lizard crossed our path, and she looked at it as if to say, “eh, go ahead, not worth the attempt.”  Even though she was wanting breaks, she made sure that she was the first one on the trail, and that she knew where we all were.  She had to make sure it was safe, and we were together.

Sometimes we take for granted the characteristics dogs always have, that we do not.  And lessons they have learned, that we sometimes forget.  They are always ravenous learners.  Every new object and creature has a history, and a story, and it should not be ignored.  Every day has the promise of unfathomable joy and discovery.  Hearts can be broken, and must be treated with care.  We do need one another, to lean on, to walk with, to hold.

Our path will only be richer with a dog to walk with, to remind us to love the journey.