Friday, May 28, 2010

Unexpected Strength

First let me say, I'm by far not a cold person. I make my husband's lunch and write love notes on his napkins and I am constantly kissing and hugging my kids.


I'm not a fan of corny cheesy displays of emotion, especially around groups of people large or small, family or not.

I'm not a fan of group crafts, unless there are kids involved.

Oh...and I'm not a fan of tea parties.

So when my mom came to me expressing the idea that she wanted to hold a tea party, complete with big fat brimmed hats adorned with bows and flowers, a craft that everyone could complete and take home and displays of emotion, you could imagine my excitement.

And when she went onto explain that this tea party would be held for her sister who had been fighting cancer for the last decade, I still wasn't a fan. There was something about being in the room with an elephant, cancer and everything it embodied that made me feel uncomfortable, maybe irrationally, but still...uncomfortable.

Aunt June had been living with cancer for 10 years. It had started as lung cancer had now invaded her bones. But according to my mom, she had been fighting cancer. There were many times in the past couple years I remember my mom saying Aunt June was in the hospital and they feared cancer had won, but every time June had come out on top. And cancer is scary. Not that I had never known anyone with cancer, I had friends, family and college teammates to die from and beat cancer. But I had never seen cancer, not cells under a microscope, but seen the affect it takes on the human body and the affect it takes on the human spirit and soul.

But I guess it was time to face my fears because after all, this was my Aunt June, my mom's sister.

My mom held the tea party at June's daughter, Rhonda's house, because this was where Aunt June was staying and she really wasn't well enough to go out. When I arrived at the tea party it was everything I expected. The tea party was being catered by a friend of my mom's from work, Mary Wilson, and even though I don't like tea parties, this one was as perfect as tea parties go. 

The table was set in beautiful linens and china, and scrumptious little finger sandwiches and scones adorned the plates. And I just about cringed when I walked in  and my mom immediately set a large red brimmed hat upon my head, she explained she picked out this one because it matched the color of my shirt, but I think it matched the color of my face. I was uncomfortable. It was an intimate gathering, 6 family members, among myself and my mom were my Aunt June, her daughter Rhonda, my Aunt Joan and her daughter Zanzie. As we took our places at the table and adjusted our hats, comments went immediately to the beautiful table setting and the amazing food that was served and made by Mary.

And then they went where I didn't expect.

I found out parts about the Native American heritage I didn't know and, although don't tell my mom, I was even surprised by the craft. Though cheesy, it was touching and seemed to fit perfectly in it's place.
I saw my mom and her sisters recount their lives, laughing, joking and remembering. Remembering younger times, crazier times and times when it included all of them, as my mom's sister Sharon, had lost her life to cancer, less than 2 years earlier. To see them finishing memories and sentences, too see the glimmer in their eyes and the warmth of their hearts, to see them together, was something I didn't get to see often.
And when it came down to the show of emotion, though I can't tell you exactly what was said, it made sense. It spoke miles about where June had been and where she was going. When you say someone has lived, June has lived. And it's not because he has gone to exotic places, or bought beautiful things, it's not the artificial living, given money, anyone can do that. It's the living, the touching people, the feeling things and the fighting for life, fighting to wake up in the morning, fighting to breathe and fighting to see another day.

Her spirit, her soul and her fight speak louder than cancer, and I believe that is why she is still here.That is why the dozens of times people had thought cancer had won, she had beat the battle time and time again. 
You won't see me holding one anytime soon, but my mom forever changed my mind about tea parties.

It was less about the tea party and more about the stories being told, about the gathering of woman and the multiple displays of strength and courage. June wasn't the only one showing courage that day. My mom, her sisters and June's daughter Rhonda show amazing courage in their fight alongside June, their fight not to shut out a sick family member for fear of what may happen and the strength to show continued love and support.

This was about a gathering of family. Family ties are bonded stronger than you ever know and understand. And it was a gathering about life, living for life, striving to live and not dealing with the cards life has dealt you but some how finding the strength to get your best hand.

I came home and went against my daughter's will to let her have her way with my craft, a beautifully painted little tea cup, decorated with articifial flowers and set it on the shelf above my sink, right where it belongs, with the light shining through.

You can find an article on my mom's tea party in today's newspaper and online at The Reporter.

If you would like more information on Mary Wilson's Traveling Tea Cups please visit her website.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I love comments!