Joan


You lose your husband to lung cancer. You are only 64 with so much life left to live.

Two years later, you contract bacterial meningitis and are left very damaged.

Awakening from your coma, you find your world is now silent, your vision is lousy, and your balance is shot. You ask us at your bedside to speak louder. We, at first, have no idea that your hearing is gone.

You are a people person; this loss will be the toughest.

You lose your job, your independence, some of your dignity.
You can’t drive.

You have other physical problems that we will not mention here because you are a lady.

The cancer you had before the meningitis seems tame.
Never mind the fat lymphedema leg and your vitiligo.

For most of us, just one of these maladies is enough to shake hope and dampen joy.

But you!!!! You!!!!!

As I drove you back to Sacramento today and took a sideways glance at your jumbo black sunglasses, the extra-large print book, and your thin hands with broken nails and blue veins, I slipped into my usual sadness when faced with your struggles. My mood darkened like the Sierra storm coming our way.

Funny. You weren’t at all in that mood.

Cheri, I am sorry, dear, but we need to stop. Now please. Exit as soon as you can.
I veer to the right and we make it just in time.

We leave Starbucks, like two drunks, she holding on to my hand and elbow like a small child who hasn’t learned to walk.

Can I buy you a mocha?

Aren’t we lucky I have a handicapped parking sticker? Pretty funny, considering I can’t drive!

Next time I see you Cheri, I will be a new woman. My epidural shot is Monday and when my leg feels better, I am going back to the gym. My personal trainer is so cute. I wish I were 40 years younger. Of course, I miss your dad, but life is for the living.

Life is for the living. Then why do I feel so sad about her circumstances?

I consider her life, as the rain pounds my windshield in the flat country that is the Central Valley.

She goes back to reading her book.

Cheri, I can’t believe how much I learn in these books! Thank God that those sweet librarians select such meaningful books and mail them to me.

She has plans even though life is getting more difficult.

We pull up to Panera Bread.

Can I treat you to lunch?

I am adding this YouTube video of Joan boxing. Remember, she has no balance.



Photo by Rob Mezzetti 2008 Dinner in the Napa Valley

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in People and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Joan

  1. Victoria says:

    I met a woman this past year who’s daughter had drowned weeks after graduating high school – I was so inspired to hear her speak of hope instead of despair, short weeks after burying her 18 year old. It made me aspire to see the good in life, even when I am faced with my darkest days.
    It sounds like “Joan” (your mother?) is the same sort of woman: a titan, trapped in one of our dust and wind shells, running ahead of us all to show us how to live courageously in the face of great difficulty.

  2. Cheri Block Sabraw says:

    Yes, a Titan for sure.
    That makes my life part of the Golden Age, right?
    Your imagery caused me pause.
    Thank you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I sometimes feel like I’ve changed for the worse during the course of my short lifetime–that my hardships have caused me to look at life through a negative light (and my hardships are small compared to Joan’s), and in doing so, I welcome more negativity. Reading your blog about Joan inspires me to appreciate the little things and to remain positive.

  4. cw2smom says:

    Excellent and heart-warming story! I am such a fan!

  5. Christine says:

    Hi Mrs. Sabraw,

    At the moment, I’m sitting in the office updating the Blog Binder. This entry really hit home for me, because your mother reminds me so much of my grandmother. The both of them have been through so much medically, but they are both really strong women. Thank you for sharing with us your story. I will wipe away my tears and continue with my work! 🙂

  6. Cheri Block Sabraw says:

    Thanks Christine.

  7. Richard Manchester says:

    How these day-to-day images pass so quickly in time, yet become the most vivid and enduring.

  8. Phil says:

    Your mom sounds like a very remarkable person with a wonderful attitude.

    May she have many, many more years to enjoy her simple pleasures, despite her physical maladies.

  9. Cheri says:

    Thank you! She is all of the above. How she maintains her attitude, I do not know.

    I am humbled by her spirit.

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