Monthly Archives: June 2014

Losing our first love

Two of my favorite photos of Evalynn

Two of my favorite photos of Evalynn

Early Monday morning—early enough that it couldn’t be good news, I received a phone call from our stepfather Jim. My mother Evalynn had passed away unexpectedly.

Mom had been in poor health for a long, long time. Two cancers, chronic back  pain, and advanced macular degeneration that left her almost blind. She’d gained a lot of weight, had limited mobility, and was in the early stages of dementia. Jim, who is eighty one but has the mental faculties and constitution of one years younger, provided all of her care.

Given her poor health, we all knew Mom’s time was limited and yet I often joked that she would outlive me. Truth is, I thought she might.

Mom was tougher than nails, one of her pet expressions. Meaner than spit sometimes too, if you didn’t see things her way. I was her first born; she liked to say I was the one she made all her mistakes on. John and Bink might argue that she saved a few for them.

However, there was no mistaking the fact that she loved us all dearly. Our conversations usually ended with “Do you know how much I love you?” or “Do you know how proud I am of you?” And we did—those things we never questioned.

She was, undoubtedly, our first love. It was her face and voice we memorized; her arms that held us. One of my earliest memories is the smell of the sun on her skin.

The three of us are putting together her memorial service and my sister emailed a list of fond memories to my brother and me. I think it nicely captures Evalynn, although I couldn’t help but add a few comments of my own (in italics):

Driving a motorhome and a massive boat as well

Backing up a hitched trailer flawlessly

Teaching us to paddle a canoe (stealth like, like Native Americans)

Always being the first to spot wildlife

Hitting a pitched ball with a bat (far, far, far)

Saying, and meaning it, that we’d never be able to run as fast as she could

Painting, Drawing, Sculpting (making just about anything with her hands)

Designing and decorating homes

Riding Motorcycles, Shooting a pistol

Dancing to any style of music (fabulous dancer)

Singing (even harmonizing)

Swimming a mile (diving beautifully; used to be a lifeguard)

Playing a musical instrument (the saxophone)

Mastering multiple sports (tennis! swimming! baseball!)

Fundraising for organizations she believed in (charitable work)

Baking coffee cakes

Reading in the bathtub

Charming her way out of speeding tickets

Charming most people, for that matter (quite the practiced flirt)

And laughing so hard she’d fall down

Beautifully said Binky. I’d also add that Mom was absolutely devoted to two out of her three husbands (sorry Dad!), adored and doted on her parents Effie and Roy, and never stopped looking up to her older sister Claudine. She played an important role in the early lives of Jemesii and August and my brother John’s daughter Shannon, as we were both single parents at one time. Our mother Evalynn was smart, beautiful, talented, capable and one of the strongest and bravest people I’ve ever known.

I miss her terribly already.

It’s getting a little too quiet around here…

And a bit minimal, per content (for those of us who need a laugh, check out this rather dated yet still freshly hilarious take on minimalism).

About that skin biopsy–it turned out to be a basal cell cancer. Dr Shaw called me herself with the news, as we’d all been on pins and needles per the result. Had it been a melanoma, I’d have been disqualified from the trial and likely all future trials for lung cancer. That would suck. So—we were thrilled that it was just a basal cell. I will have a Mohs Surgery to surgically remove the lesion from my shin on July 21st. And, from this point forward, be a lot more careful about sunscreen.

What other important events have come and gone since I last posted?

Justin and me. Two styling dudes.

Justin and me. Two styling dudes.

Well, Mother’s Day. Mine was splendid—I spent the day before in Cambridge with Jemesii and her boyfriend Justin. We went to the Coolidge Theatre to see Only Lover’s Left Alive (a bit vapid for vampires, but delicious none-the-less) and then had dinner out. An altogether lovely Saturday punctuated by a goose crossing the busy byway—I had to play traffic cop from my car seat with an impatient driver of a luxury car (brand unmentioned) who couldn’t understand why we’d all stopped and evidently wished to hurry on to wherever they were going. To strike a goose with one’s car on Mother’s Day eve and leave a gaggle of goslings orphaned….in very poor taste.

Peter Duff text-checking

Peter Duff text-checking

The day itself: Peter had emailed me a week prior to ask if I’d like to spend Mother’s Day with him (!) and I drove to Exeter where we indulged ourselves with a–surprise, never asked how much it would be–pricey brunch at the hotel down the road. It was almost as tasty as it was expensive. We then took a stroll around town and over to the river where Peter practices crew. There is a small pond there and we saw perhaps two dozen turtles basking in the sun. Splendid!

My day was made complete by a phone call from my eldest son, August, who was catching his breath after a long shift waiting tables on what tends to be the busiest breakfast of the year. He always cleans up (rakes in the tips!), helped no doubt by his MOM tattoo that he got after I asked that he stop getting tattoos.

The next major event on my plate was what was supposed to be the final mediation for my/our divorce. Fortunately, nothing was signed because upon reflection (which started as soon as I walked out the door, dazed as I was), it didn’t go very well—at least for me.

Fortunately I have some good and wise friends and family members who took it upon themselves to advise me. Further legal counsel has been sought and the process is ongoing.

Moving right along, I had the lead-in dose for PF-06463922 on Tuesday, May  20th. I was in the third cohort in the dose escalation or first phase of this trial.

First dose down the hatch!

First dose down the hatch!

Sadie was there for the whole bloody-long day, which made it all so much more fun. She insisted that the dosing be delayed for several minutes so that it could happen right at 11:11, when I became the ninth human in the world to take PF-06463922—having been preceded by several hours by a participant in Queensland, Australia and Barcelona, Spain. What a shame that we all could not have skyped along as we dosed, although given the timezones, I would have had to have gotten up earlier!

That giddy after taste!

That giddy after taste!

Anyway, this was a day I had long anticipated. And as it is already the second day of June, much has transpired since that first dose. Those of you unacquainted with clinical trials would probably like to hear a bit more about the particulars and I shall go into greater detail in a subsequent post. In the meantime I figured an update was more than necessary. To summarize: the skin biopsy was a basal cell—good news! I had my lead-in dose of PF-06463922 and regular dosing has begun. Fingers, toes, arms and legs crossed!