I met Marilyn at a women’s clothing store a couple of years ago. We both worked part-time, and bonded over our love of clothes. She was in her 60’s, medium sized with light brown hair. She was quiet, hard working, very sweet, and unbelievably enthusiastic about folding tissue paper perfectly when wrapping merchandise. I watched, learned, and can now tissue with the best of them, but I’m still not as good as her.
When I left my job there almost two years ago, I missed all my co-workers, but was so busy I didn’t pick up the phone or figure out a lunch date like I should have.
But a while back, when I was walking Topper around the block, I discovered that Marilyn lives right behind my apartment. She lives in a tidy, brown house she keeps threatening to landscape, with her husband, who’s dealing with memory challenges.
We’ve met for coffee and a walk a couple of times since we discovered we’re neighbors, but I hadn’t seen her for a few months. Last time we talked she was having a lumpectomy and didn’t seem too concerned about it. Then last week she pulled up beside me as I was out for another daily walk.
She leaned over into the passenger’s seat to ask how I was doing, and I must have looked shocked when I saw the scarf on her head, because I realized her cancer must have been pretty serious to warrant chemo. She just nonchalantly said, yeah she was getting chemo, and since her hair started to fall out, she decided to just get it all chopped off — like she was talking about a hang nail.
That’s when it hit me that I’ve been such a whiner about an upcoming birthday that I’ve stupidly named Bleepty, because I can’t bring myself to say the actual number, when I could be facing the possibility of no birthdays.
All this, while Marilyn, with a memory challenged husband and a cancer diagnosis, is bulldozing forward.
I hate it when I realize I’ve been a schlump.
When I think of all the people in the world who would give anything to have one more birthday, I’m embarrassed that I ever gave it one shallow thought. I think about my sister-in-law, and numerous friends who’ve battled breast cancer and still take medication every day to stay healthy. Talking to them has made me realize all anyone really wants is to just live their life normally. Taxes, bills and kids are a relief to worry about when you’re faced with your life possibly ending far too soon.
Their recovery makes me realize how far we’ve come since the days when breast cancer was a death sentence. But we still have a long way to go.
So, thank you Marilyn, you are damned impressive. You made me realize I’d be in a far worse place if I didn’t have this birthday to look forward to. I’m sorry it took me so long. I dedicate this blog post to Marilyn and every woman out there who is now, or ever has battled breast cancer. Here is a link to the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s donation page, where you can make a donation that will make a difference.
I Could Use Your Help – Can You Nominate Me? | At Fran's TableJune 8, 2016 at 8:35 pm
[…] Thanks Marilyn & Bleepty – 374 words – July 2015 […]
MalinaJuly 24, 2015 at 3:56 pm
Dear Fran, I love that you can spout words of wisdom in amongst the food and memories. I agree that as long as we can put our heads down and keep plowing through, we are doing well. I think that’s what it takes to get the most out of this life on earth. Many blessings! Enjoy those walks with Copper!! love ya
Fran TunnoJuly 25, 2015 at 2:30 pm
Sweet Malina, I owe you a phone call. Thank you for reading and for your sweet comment! You are the best and I’ll keep writing and walking the dog!
daedae51July 24, 2015 at 3:09 pm
Inspiring post Fran, I’m Bleepty plus a few more. Age has never bothered me but a few other things do, tell Marilyn she’s my hero!
Fran TunnoJuly 25, 2015 at 2:27 pm
Thank you daedae51 for reading and for the sweet comments! You are wise and I will give Marilyn your message!
LeslieJuly 22, 2015 at 4:54 pm
You will kick Bleepty’s butt, Fran!
What’s another year, huh? You’re so full of life, it’s truly only a number, and heck, even though our aging bodies chime in with creaky reminders of the process, I say laugh at the wrinkles and celebrate the day that the world was lucky to have you bounce into it!
I’ll pray for Marilyn and the challenges she’s facing. Those kinds of curveballs are indeed difficult. Such a shame.
Don’t let Bleepty scare you, Fran. Bleepty is just a little over halfway to 100, and look at how many people are doing that number these days.
Toss some glitter in the air and tell Bleepty that you’re comin’ and she better watch out! You’re gonna show her how to do it! 🙂
Fran TunnoJuly 22, 2015 at 7:19 pm
Thanks Leslie, you are right on. I will go buy some glitter and do just that! And thanks for always reading! You are fabulous!
Julia ShureJuly 21, 2015 at 7:07 pm
Well said. Marc turns bleepty the day before you. I wanted to give him a bash but he wants only a small family party. Which works out fine, really.
Fran TunnoJuly 22, 2015 at 9:51 am
Yeah, I understand his not wanting to advertise because our society tends to look at you differently when they make assumptions about you based on chronological age. I am working on gentle acceptance, but it’s been a challenge. Tell Marc Happy Bleeping Birthday!
flowerpowerlifeJuly 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm
What a thoughtful post – it’s a shame that often we don’t appreciate what we’ve got until life reminds us it’s short and sweet.
Fran TunnoJuly 22, 2015 at 9:49 am
Thanks Flowerpowerlife! It’s so true. Life has backhanded me numerous times with this reminder…yet it’s so easy to forget.
nicolzanzarellaJuly 17, 2015 at 10:05 am
Well done, my friend. And special thoughts and prayers for Marilyn.
Fran TunnoJuly 22, 2015 at 9:48 am
Thank you Nicol! And I’m sure Marilyn and Bleepty thank you too.