Looking back on my life, I wander how in the world I did it. I guess it was one day at a time. When my son started kindergarten in 2003, I decided to go back to school. I was working at the Ground Round Restaurant, full time, pretty much around the clock. At least, it seemed like it.
Shortly after I started school, my mom was diagnosed with leukemia brought on by aplastic anemia. It was a rough time.
My major was art. When I graduated from high school, that’s what I wanted to do. I was planning on going out to the Denver Institute of Art. The day I was to graduate I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. They wanted to operate that day, but mom said no, she is going to walk across that stage. I was supposed to go out to Colorado to tour the facility and all that good stuff before I graduated, but with all the doctor’s appointments and everything else going on, it got postponed. When we found out I had cancer, it was cancelled all together.
My mom didn’t want me to go to prom or any of the parties. She reluctantly let me go, with a little begging from me and reassurance from parents that they would keep an eye on me. I was operated on five days after graduation. I went through chemo that summer and tried to go to the community college that fall. After one semester I dropped out. It was too much. This was in 1995. The doctors told me I probably would never be able to have babies without help.
We’ve always had a thing for black cats…Samantha was our first black cat. We had Gato (he was a grey white and black cat with a little bit of brown. I’m sure I’ll be including him at some point) – one of her kittens, then we got Luna. After Luna passed away we got Kalimba.
The picture above was taken while I was still going through chemo. I’m not normally that pale. Even during the winter I have a little bit of a tan.
In January 1998, I found out I was pregnant. Or the cancer had come back and it was everywhere. My cancer doctor called and broke the news to me. Imagine my shock!!! I didn’t think I could get pregnant! He had scheduled a sonogram for the next day. The tests they do for this particular cancer is a sort of pregnancy blood test. But instead of checking for pregnancy, they check for cancer. My doctor talked to me a couple of minutes, I hung up the phone and laid back down. What in the world am I going to do?
My mom wanted to know why the cancer doctor had called. I told her “no reason” and rolled over in bed. Her response? “Bull #@*&! He didn’t call for no reason. Why did he call?” “He thinks I’m pregnant or the cancer’s come back and it’s everywhere.” After a slight pause, she said “Let’s hope you’re pregnant.” She went with me to the sonogram. When I was finished, I greeted her as “Grandma!” She didn’t go in with me, she sat in the waiting room. Even though I had gotten pregnant out of wedlock, she was ecstatic.
He was the best thing to ever happen to me. Still is, the joy of my life.
So, I did what I had to do. I raised him as a single parent. His dad wasn’t involved at all. That’s why, when he started kindergarten I decided to go back to school. I knew I couldn’t live and survive working at a restaurant.
On the weekends, I went out with a friend of mines band – NOXIT. I didn’t go out every weekend, but some. We had fun and didn’t get into trouble. Or at least we didn’t get caught!
So, I’m working part time (nights), going to school part time (days), raising my son and helping my dad out around the house while mom is in the hospital. She was at NIH (National Institute of Health) in Rockville (?), Md. Dad was also working part time, doing what he had to do to get by. Mom eventually succumbed to the cancer in 2007. She struggled from 1993 when she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia (I was 15 1/2, learned to drive going up and down 270 to visit her – my dad taught me to drive) to 2007 when leukemia took her. In 2006 I graduated from the community college with an AA in art. About 6 months after mom passed away my braces came off.
The whole time is a blur to me now and I’m sure in 10 years or so I’ll still be saying “How in the world did I do it?”
ARTWORK FROM HIGH SCHOOL
I got an A on this, even though it wasn’t finished. The teacher thought it was. I ran out of time and had to hand it in, as is.
This was done completely with sharpie dots. The teacher even checked the back to make sure we didn’t cheat.
It’s faded a little bit, and has some discoloration but (in my humble opinion) it’s worth being framed.
ART WORK FROM THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
In one of my classes we had to make a drawing using circles…it’s my name abstracted.
The 2nd place black and white photo was the first one I entered at the community college. When I won 1st place the following year, I knew I should probably get into photography. Even my teachers said I had a good eye.
This is just an example of my artwork and start of photography, and a glimpse of my life when my son (and I) was younger. It wasn’t until my son and I moved back here the second time that I realized that this is probably where I was meant to be. (Before my son started kindergarten we had moved out and back home two times!) These details are a story for another time.
It certainly does not feel like it’s been 24 years since I graduated from high school! My son will be 21 in Sept!
Time sure does fly.
And I will leave you with this… “How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Seuss