View from somewhere new

After a hiatus from blogging, I am back, now publishing from a new perch by San Francisco Bay. There’s some catching up to do, so here goes.

Three years ago in February, I moved to Little Rock, having lived all my life in Jonesboro. My daughter, Mary Kathryn, had moved to Little Rock two years before that to be closer to her kidney transplant team. I suddenly began to wonder why should I stay in Jonesboro when I could be near my daughter. One day she called to tell me about a house being built about a block from hers in west Little Rock, close but far enough to give us independence. I drove down the next day, fell in love with it, and signed a contract that afternoon.

My friends were stunned. What I had not shared was that I felt so very alone, and I would be living the same sort of life in Little Rock with the advantage of being near my daughter. It was an easy drive to Jonesboro so I could return for visits. I was ready to make a change. One promise that I made to myself was to be open to new experiences, to be comfortable having lunch alone, going to a movie alone, getting involved! And I did.

I absolutely loved life in Little Rock. Old friends and cousins made sure I was included in lunches and bridge games. My P.E.O. chapter members became dear friends. A church group became extended family. Precious times were spent with friends who visited from Jonesboro. First United Methodist Church fed my soul with its inclusiveness, great sermons, and awesome music. I had found such a friendly and welcoming church and felt so at home in my Sunday School class. I tutored with Literacy Action of Central Arkansas. The Bridge House became my second home. At first, I was very shy about playing there but soon I realized they what a great group they were. They became my support system. Another bonus was getting to know a cousin and becoming his bridge partner. Little Rock was good to and for me. I plan to visit Arkansas this spring.

Then, last June, I began having symptoms that I could not ignore. I could not get my internist to refer me to a gynecologist, and I talked with a dear new friend about the problem. That Sunday at church, she deliberately sat by a much-admired gynecologist and she said she prayed about asking her to see me. She texted after church to give me the doctor’s name and information. I called the next morning and was in the office by 9. I had a scan by noon, and shortly after that a probable diagnosis of endometrial cancer, with a biopsy scheduled two weeks later. The biopsy confirmed the diagnosis (and a later PET scan told of lymph node involvement).

I wanted to have the necessary surgery in California to make it easier on Mary Kathryn and her brother. Mary Kathryn moved out to the San Francisco area earlier last year (and had flown back to Little Rock for my biopsy), and Johnny has lived there for the last 15 years. With referrals, I was able to see a gynecology/oncology surgeon at University of California San Francisco’s medical center. After surgery, I spent three weeks with my son Johnny, and the next three weeks at Mary Kathryn’s apartment. The good news was that the surgery went well, and I would need radiation therapy but probably would not have to have chemo. It seemed sensible to figure out a way to continue that treatment at UCSF.

I felt great pretty quickly after surgery, and about a week later asked Johnny if he would take me to see an apartment advertised, of all places, on Facebook. I had done a lot of internet searching and was fairly sure where I would like to be if I moved. Mary Kathryn joined us to look at the area, and I fell in love with the view. The place is high on a hill on the north side of the Tiburon Peninsula, with a sweeping view across the Bay towards the Richmond Bridge and the hills beyond.

Looking east from my balcony.

Looking east from my balcony.

They thought I made my decision in too big a hurry, and perhaps I did, although I have not regretted it. I was really hesitant about going back to Little Rock for the move, as I just wasn’t ready emotionally for more goodbyes. Johnny and Mary Kathryn went for me. Mary Kathryn and a dear friend picked up my dear Zach and Kodi, whom I’d left at the boarding kennel eight weeks earlier before heading off to San Francisco. Johnny stayed another couple of days in Little Rock and supervised the packing and loading.

By then, the end of September, I had possession of the apartment and had rented a bed, sofa, and chair. I moved in and had two very happy dogs with me. During October and November, I drove back and forth to the city for the prescribed course of 25 radiation treatments. Sometime during the early part of the treatments the moving truck arrived. Johnny arranged it all, from the unpacking to hanging each picture. Mary Kathryn helped as much as she was able. There are not enough words in my vocabulary to express to them what it meant to me.

I have excellent medical care, I love California, and the biggest bonus of all is a day like last Saturday, when both Mary Kathryn and Johnny dropped by for a visit. He lives across the bridge in San Francisco and she is a few miles up the freeway in San Rafael, so I am located approximately halfway between them. What a wonderful way to spend these years.