I’ve been thinking a lot lately about religion–it must be my age. I’ve had a strange religious journey in my life. My earliest memory of church is of attending Methodist Sunday School on our Army post in Germany and singing hymns like “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” but I was really raised–sort of–in the Episcopal church, by parents who had tried out a variety of religions themselves–from the Methodist brand to a very secular Unitarianism–and ended up in the Episcopal church. My mother always seemed to choose her church on the basis of the quality of sermon being offered there (something she got from her father)–so we switched around a lot.
I remember when I was confirmed in the Episcopal church–the process that made me a real member of the church and allowed me to take communion–I asked the priest, who happened to be a very open-minded kind of guy, if I should worry about the fact that I was having to vow a lot of things that I wasn’t convinced I completely believed or accepted in my heart of hearts. He was a sweet, older man, and he said the important thing was to believe in the big picture and not worry about the details. He said this with such kindness and such acceptance of me that, right then and there, I believed: I believed in him, and, since he was such a good, kind, intelligent man, I believed in his religion. The power and virtue of his faith convinced me more than any of the creeds I was memorizing.
My husband and I were married in the Episcopal church by another wonderful man, Mr. Hadden. We didn’t know at the time of our wedding that he was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but during the service, he lost his place, and my husband and I had to coach him along, whispering things like, “Isn’t this where we are supposed to kneel?” We got pretty tickled–and I have always loved Mr. Hadden for smiling at us and even laughing a little along with us. He was another true Christian. (He eventually christened all of our kids in the Episcopal church–even our youngest who was so big–weighing 11 pounds and 11 ounces when she was born–that he almost dropped her at the altar!) Continue reading Jane on Finding My Religion→
Kippy Bracke, lives in Minnesota, where she was born and has family. She has a love of travel, something which was developed in her at an early age as an army brat. She recently left corporate America and has a part time job as a Tour Director with a travel agency.
It came as a surprise; it usually does. I am a Tour Director, and I was scheduled to take a group to California when I started experiencing discomfort—which I thought was indigestion. My mother, a retired nurse, suggested that I see a doctor before I leave and follow up with further treatment, if necessary, when I come home. No problem getting in to see the doctor on Thursday afternoon. He started with the usual questions and poking and prodding. He finished all of this with the suggestion that I get a Cat Scan. And so it began……
The doctor called me at home that night (yes, you read that correctly, at night and at home) – results of the Cat Scan indicated a large mass on my ovary; he recommended that I cancel my trip and come in the next morning for additional consultation with an oncology gynecologist. I saw the oncologist the next day, and a whirlwind of appointments, surgery and acute anxiety started in rapid succession.
I was in a state of shock. Cancer. It brings all kinds of terrible thoughts. It can be a death sentence. How could this happen? I am in good physical shape; I have watched my diet; I exercise; I don’t smoke. Why was this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? I cried. Self pity had set in. Friends and family surrounded me with love and support. If I have learned one thing from this ordeal, it is that the only things that really matter in this world are faith, family and friends. As I struggled to understand and deal with all that was happening, it was the conversations and tears that we shared that kept me going.
My surgery occurred within a week of the diagnosis. I had what I describe as a hysterectomy on steroids – all things that are removed during a normal hysterectomy plus a few other organs due to the cancer. After surgery, the oncologist said I had Stage 2 cancer and that the cancer appeared to be contained within the tumor. I was not completely awake and out of the anesthesia, but this registered with me –- I remember smiling (don’t know if I actually did, but it felt like I did) My husband and parents were at my bedside; we were all relieved that the cancer had not spread. Continue reading The Other Side: My Journey With Cancer→