Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Experiencing A Bump In The Road On The Way To May: Melanoma Awareness Month

It's a slow day. What can I say? It's raining, my sinuses are backed up and giving me a horrocious headache, my thinking is fuzzy and foggy...but, I can recognize a bump in the road when I see it. And one can either be stopped by the bump or work around the bump.

I choose the latter. I may be technologically challenged, but I'm still clever enough to work around a bump as best as I can.

The bump? FACEBOOK! Oh, I love Facebook. It's a great tool. And it's just that...a tool. It is what we each choose to make of it. Some leave the tool in the shed and never go near it. Me, I embrace Facebook on behalf of my church and on behalf of the melanoma community. Sometimes, however, Facebook fails to embrace me back. It makes changes without my prior approval. And it has made some serious, and in my humble opinion, awful changes to the way an "event" page is administrated since last year about this time. Last year my month-long "May: Melanoma Awareness" event ran without a hitch. Without a hitch, I tell you!

This year, already, as of today...it has me stymied and irritated. Last year's event had over 7200 attendees by the end of May. Placards had been designed and a wonderful volunteer whose husband had died from melanoma stepped up and offered to put people's pictures in the placard of their choice, and she was swamped. This year she knew she needed more time, so I set the event up earlier this month (April 2014). I should have realized I would have problems when there was no way to add an "end date" and set it to automatically run through the end of May. But, it let me change the event date on a daily basis...I could do that with no problem.

Houston started having problems last night as I write. I tried to change the event date to today, April 15th, and it wouldn't let me. So, OK, I logged off and rested my computer for the night thinking, naively, that when I logged on today, kink would be gone and I could change the date.

Well. No. The kink was still there. I couldn't change the date, and because, in Facebook's mind the event was over, it was gone from calendars. That meant people would have to go back into their "past events" and resurrect it. The only saving grace in this is that FB doesn't completely delete old events. It's still "there" technically, but now, even I the event admin, have to hunt for it. Not good.

It did give me the option of "repeating" the event. And when I tried that, it was a blank event. Back to zero participants and all the posts from the previous event were gone. Scrap THAT idea.

I chose not to create a new event because I'd run into the same "date" issues...and all previous posts would be gone.

The event page was giving a few other problems as well. It got to where it would not let me...ME, the event admin, leave photos in comments under posts. Not good. A few people complained to me that pictures that had been posted were somehow "gone." And they would be gone, And sometimes they would show back up again. We already had over 700 people attending this event and already issues were piling up and there wasn't a thing I could do about ANY of it!!!! Not good.

So, I created a new Facebook page (NOT another "event" but an open community page) for May: Melanoma Awareness Month. Yes, it will mean starting all over. But we still have the placards and wonderful volunteers working on them. And, prayerfully and hopefully, we'll get over this bump in the road and keep driving on with no more challenges to surmount. I hope so because I'm sure not in the mood for surmounting more challenges from Facebook!

For the record, the event page can still be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/523246704452369/

The new page is here: https://www.facebook.com/MelanomaAwarenessMonth

I am truly sorry for all inconvenience, redundancy, and any headaches this may cause.

But, I'll tell ya, if you live with melanoma or any other cancer or health issue or life-issue...this is peanuts. Small potatoes.

A bump in the road.

May is coming and we're ready.

We're going to educate, honor, and remember.

Join us if you haven't already.

charis

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Melalessons From Melahomies

April 4, 2014, I posted this on Melanoma Prayer Center on Facebook:


What have YOU learned on your melanoma journey that you want to share? Bless others, and yourself, by sharing please. Thanks!”

As of right this moment, these are the responses I've gotten and they are worth sharing with the greater Internet world. I have not used their names but you are free to go to MPC and scroll until you find the post. There may even be more comments to read by then! Here ya go:



“It wasn't my journey, it my mother's; but what I learned is that although our prayers aren't always answered in the way we want them to be, they are answered. He hears us when we are at our lowest and gives us comfort, strength, and many graces.”

“My faith in God has become stronger than it has ever been he is my Rock and my salvation he has never ending Love for us I praise him several times a day! He is a healer, I am Blessed, I enjoy every breath I take, I Do not take things for granted, I  love to spend time with my family I cherish them every single second. Life is to short to be unhappy or mad be quick to forgive. I am still fighting this Disease, I am warrior! All my Love.”

“My daughter is stage IV, and I have learned that sometimes your children are much stronger, and braver than we ever imagined.”

“I've learned that the material treasures you have on this earth mean nothing. Loving one another means everything and losing my daughter to this horrible disease is devastating.”

“I have learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined and that life will never be the same again. I am grateful for the knowledge I now have and can hopefully through sharing can help raise awareness in hopes that someone else may learn, and not have to go through what we all do with the beast. I have learned that there are some wonderful people in the melanoma community and have made some great friends. I found out the hard way that not everyone understands what your going through but someone that has went through it themselves, and am so grateful for all the people that have helped me along my journey!”

“Life is amazing. Feel blessed to be here Everyday.”

“have learned you find out how strong and resilient you are. I went through my first diagnosis alone, 4 months later the Lord blessed me with my soon to be husband. It has been a journey of rediscovery, pain, laughter, tears, and hope. I have finally been able to loosen the death grip this disease has on me. I won't be afraid to live my life, be active, and play outside with my children! It really opened my eyes as to how selfish I was with my body, thinking I was indestructible, and that cancer could never happen to me. God Bless!! Keep on fighting you bad ass warriors!!”

“I have learned to enjoy and appreciate the small things and never ever take any day for granted!!”

“Watching my husband fight his battle with the "Black Beast", we should appreciate every minute of everyday for we are not promised tomorrow. My husband and I were drawn closer to God and Faith has what gets me through each day without him. God bless.”

“Amen to all these comments!!!”

“every breath is a gift . . .”

“KNOW that surviving stage IV melanoma is never a ONE drug quick solution, everyone who survives long term has major setbacks, they use plan a, b, c, d and often e and F! For now, its a combined effort of drugs, and cherry picking. And you need to know that it takes a long time to get it to go away......so don't approach your new diagnosis expecting that you will do one miracle drug and it will solve your problem. Get educated, talk to as many LIVING survivors as you can, and know what your fall back plan is in advance and don't be crushed when you have to use it. And pray, not just for the prize at the end of the journey but pray for the million little things that have to fall into place to become NED..(stage IV 1996)”

“I have learned to appreciate every day. And I've met the most amazing people. So brave and giving. I wouldn't wish this upon anyone, but it has opened my eyes to see life in a way I never could have before.”

“I learned that eternity in heaven is the ultimate goal. Everlasting life is found with Jesus and by his side no one will ever hurt again”

“I've learned to trust in God & His provision, to prioritise - putting my wife first in everything, also learned not to postpone things I really want to do. Also to value the people in my life, and to hopefully make a difference in their lives”

“I still cannot breathe from the loss of my beautiful 20 year old son. I'm still numb. But from Connor, I learned that every day is a gift and human connectedness is precious. Even though I can't feel joy yet, I learned that being joyful has a greater impact on lives that anything else. I learned that it's important to live every day out loud.”

“Glad to have shared a trip,of a lifetime with my beautiful girls and my wonderful husband who always looks at the glass half full not empty
6 years ago was my first warning shot stage 4 aggressive and one another one this year nearly to the day I feel like I am dogging bullets and fortunately for my beautiful girls I am still going ok”

“Watching my Dad fight his battle with melanoma has changed me forever. I don't take anything for granted and live each moment. It has made me realize that u never know tomorrow so enjoy today!”

“That it's not the end of the world, but a beginning of a new journey that can be filled with joy, blessings, and God's overwhelming peace. I hate having cancer, but I love how close I've drawn to the Lord through it!
This page is a blessing! Thank you for doing such a great job of uplifting those with it and raising awareness for those who don't”

“I am stage 3b an have learned many things. So there is no 1 answer.. No tanning booths. 2nd opinions. Get into a trial. Body scans. Never give up. Take every 2nd chance u get! Life is too short.... Live it to the fullest!!”

“I have learned that when my doctors said "I'm a challenging case" ( I have no know starting point and a non mutated gene and 15 tumors throughout my lungs and bones) that fighting for my life is the only choice I have.”

“Educate yourself and above all be your own advocate. Doctors work for you. Your allowed and should get second opinions!! Never give up hope. Last but not least your mind is very strong. Use is to your benefit don't let it get you down”

“Skin cancer is not just skin cancer”

“I to have walked this road with my husband down the road with the beast and he lost his battle on Dec. 21, 2013. I have learned more about this cancer you know the one "it's just skin cancer". I heard that so many times from people I wanted to stand on the roof of Duke and scream it's not just skin cancer it's taking the best man I have ever known from me and there is nothing I can do. So i did the only thing I could and that was pray and care for my husband. I to was a tanner never used any sun screen it make me want to stop all these young girls and let them know just what can happen but they wouldn't listen. I to have learned that no one is promised tomorrow so live life to the fullest and tell the people around how you feel about because you may not get a chance later. I am a 52 year old widow who now has to go through the rest of my life without my life's partner thinks about that next time you crawl into that tanning bed or lay in the sun with no protection. My life will never be the same a neither will our 13 year old daughters.”

“I've learned that every second with my husband was a cherished blessing. I've learned that this "just skin cancer" robbed me and this world of a wonderful man. (March 23) I've learned never take an instant for granted, that any second something can change your whole world. And I still HATE melanoma and will forever preach the safe skin message.”

“Fighting melanoma has shown me how strong I am!! I fought for my family and I know I want to share a message of HOPE!! 3 years NED, after 3 years.... thank you heavenly father and my angels.”

“I've learned I'm stronger than I ever imagined. I've learned there can be BLESSINGS along this journey. I've seen so many Blessings along my 14 year journey. We just have to remember to breathe and open our eyes!”

“I've learned you have to fight for them to proactively biopsy spots cause one of my tiny spots was growing and it was recently new. It was positive.”

“It's my mom's journey first, but our family shares it with her. I've learned that she is tough, more so that I already knew. And I thank God for giving her that strength, and for the knowledge He provides to all her doctors and researchers of melanoma therapies.”

Me again...melanoma is hideous, no doubt about it. It is from the pits of Hell. But we are cradled in the hands of God and God teaches us, not only in the rainbow times of life, but also in the storms...the hurricanes, tsunamis, and tornadoes of life. Learn from us.

charis

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Goodbye MelaBlack Road

So I posted this graphic on Melanoma Prayer Center a couple of days ago:









And Rich McDonald, the proprietor of Hotel Melanoma commented, "You ought to rewrite the song lyrics" and had a winky face. Well, that winky face was all it took, especially coming from him, since rewriting songs is what he's known for in MelaWorld.

So with my humblest apologies to Elton John, here ya go...


Goodbye MelaBlack Road

When are you gonna tone down
When are you going to ban
I shouldn’t have tanned on the bed
I should have listened to my old man

You know you can't hound me forever
I didn't sign up for you
I'm not a present for the beast to open
This homey’s too ‘live to sing the blues

chorus:
So goodbye melablack road
Where the melabeast creates strife
You can't keep me in your deathgrip
I'm going back to my life

Back to the nat’ral pale skin on my bod
Toting my fave sunscreen load
Oh I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the melablack road

What do you think black'll do then
I bet that'll change all mel’s plans
We'll make mel back off with some Yervoy and Gamma
And catch black c with constant scans

Don’t want a cancer replacement
There's too many cancers around
Killers that ain't got mercy
Prowling for others like I was: tanned brown

(repeat chorus)


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Melanoma Prayer Center Turns Three!

This IS the day that the LORD has made! I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!

It is also a day I never thought, three years ago, that I'd see. Oh, I thought I'd be here. I just never expected Melanoma Prayer Center on Facebook to still be around. I never thought people would find it and it keep growing and evolving.

I never thought that I would grow and evolve so much. Maybe that's it. I'm the one who has grown and evolved. Every year at this time, I have blogged about MPC's birthday and you can find those here: http://letsgivethanks.blogspot.com/2012/03/year-in-life-of-melanoma-prayer-center.html
and here: http://letsgivethanks.blogspot.com/2013/03/melanoma-prayer-center-turns-two.html

What I wrote in those are still true. This year I find myself pondering how much I really freaking hate melanoma and how much I wish there was absolutely no need for MPC and other sites dedicated to melanoma and other cancers. I hate the carnage and the death. The pain and the agony. The heartbreak and the never-knowing. I hate that far too many people are not listening to us and are courting their own date with the Beast. Hate to say it folks, but he's a keeper. Once you get him in your life, you just cannot get rid of him. Even if he seems to stop hanging around, he leaves little mementos so you never forget that he can pop back by at any time.

As much as I have thoroughly grown to hate and despise this disease...and that's an unmeasurable amount of hate...I have also grown that much, and more, in love and admiration for my melahomies.

If you do not walk melanoma road with us, you won't understand. You can't. What I have witnessed in these past three years is so far beyond astounding, heartwarming, uplifting, life-changing, God-transforming, I cannot begin to describe it.

NO language on earth has the right words. And that's OK. God can take what words I can come up with and convey a small portion of what I would love to say if I could.

And I, me, I get to be part of witnessing Christ in action time and time again. I get to see God at work in this world and in the lives of those who fight melanoma, those who love those who fight, and those who say "good bye" to the fight and to the fighter. Testimonies to love in action. The love of parent-child, spouses, siblings, other familial relationships, friends. People rising to the occasion...SOARING above the occasion...leaving the occasion behind in the dirt. And these are people who do things with tears in their eyes, hurt in their hearts, but damned...they are not about to let melanoma hold them down or back. They choose LIFE! They opt for LOVE and for GOOD every time. Those who are people of faith wear their FAITH on their sleeves and share it with all who will listen. They are all ages, all stages, both genders, a rainbow of skin tones and they all share a common determination to bring melanoma DOWN!

Hear me and hear me loud and good. Melanoma is coming down.

There is no other option.

We're gonna fight so you don't have to.

We're gonna kill the beast so that it doesn't kill more of us and it doesn't kill you.

We're gonna say the prayers and hold onto faith because that's who we are.

We've seen what God does through prayers and through us. We've SEEN it.

We LIVE it.

We TESTIFY to it over and over and over again.

God stands with us. He works on our behalf. He's opening doors we stand in awe of opening.

Time and time again.

And we, me, the melanoma community. We get to be a part of it.

A part not of our choosing to be sure.

But it's where we are. This is our life but it's not all of who we are. Not by a long shot.

We're your husbands and wives, your sons and daughters, your mamas and daddies, your brothers and sisters, your nieces and nephews, your grandsons and granddaughters, your neighbors and friends.

We work, go to school, make bracelets and erect billboards, we get tattoos and write songs, we blog, speak, skydive, raise families, love passionately, and live fully. We walk the walks and raise money for research, we raise awareness and we educate. We fight the fights that demand to be fought and we pick our battles with the future in mind. And the present. And we don't forget the past.

We are you and we don't want YOU becoming one of us.

So, as MPC turns three, here's to three more. I'll be here as long as I have breath and as long as I have melahomies. That's just the way it is.

charis! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The NEED To DEMAND Scans In Melaland

I've written many times before, in various posts, my strong belief that people of ALL stages should be scanned at least once a year in an effort to stay on top of their melanoma. If I ruled melanoma world, this would surely happen. Alas. I don't rule melanoma world, or any world for that matter. But, I'm not without a little bit of influence. Which I'm going to use.

I feel a very strong, stepped-up sense of urgency to press all my melahomies, no matter where along the staging spectrum they reside, to demand to be scanned. There are a variety of options that I will leave to each to discuss with their doctor...a melanoma specialist (here's Aim at Melanoma's link to a list of melanoma specialist oncologists. Where you find them you will also find dermatologists and surgical oncologists who are melanoma and skin cancer specialists).

Decide on MRI, CT scan, PET scan, CT/PET scan, x-rays...whatever you and your doctor are comfortable with. Prepare to be your own best advocate and prepare to push for what YOU need to stay on top of this disease and for YOUR peace of mind.You may have to push your doctor. You may have to get another doctor (make sure any doctor is a melanoma specialist and understand they will not all agree. Just because ONE doctor tells you something doesn't mean ALL doctors you see will tell you the exact same thing!) You may have to do battle with your insurance company. You may have to do battle with them every single time your doctor orders scans. OK. While this stinks and isn't how it should be, if this is how it is...do battle. And, if your doctor HAS ordered scans and they are denied, enlist your doctor's office to help you with your insurance company. They/the hospital should have someone on staff trained for this. Use them!

OK. A word to doctors. I'm learning that some of you...not all of you, and for those who scan, I am truly grateful but you are few in number when it comes to scanning stage 2 melahomies and under...some of you...many of you refuse to scan my lower staged melahomies. You, of all people should have a basic understanding of this disease and how it works and that it has NO MO. None. Zilch. Nada. You know people with in situ (stage 0) melanoma can be stage 4 in a matter of months, years, or never. You know that the ONLY way to be sure of what melanoma is, or is not, doing is with a scan. You know the information that is learned with scans. You understand that more scans will call more attention to this dangerous disease. Help us call more attention to it! UGH! For crying out loud, order a yearly scan...your and your patient's choice of monitoring this way, but DO IT. Give my melahomey and your patient...this person who is trusting YOU with their LIFE this much, this peace of mind, this ray of hope.

Frankly, I am beyond dismayed by many doctors. Melanoma specialists at that. I am hearing from too many mamas who have buried their children that their child's DOCTOR was the person who would not order scans. Even when begged. It doesn't just sadden me; it sickens me. These young people were stage 2 and feared spread. And it did spread and it killed and scans were ordered too late. I'm hearing this from spouses who have buried their better half because scans were finally ordered too late. You do know what happens to us when you order scans too late, don't you? Please, please, please, the minute you get a patient with a melanoma diagnosis over their head, get them scanned and scan every year. At least sit your patient down and discuss all scan options with them and if they do not want an annual scan, fine. Make them sign a waiver that you told them and they refused. But at least give them an informed option. Too many aren't even given an option.

Remember doctors, whether you provide scans for ALL patients or not...this melanoma is not YOUR melanoma and unless you live with your own diagnosis, you do not and cannot possibly understand what living with this disease does to us. It is your job to help and do no harm. That's what you swore to do. Do your job. Do no harm. Help. Scan.

And now, insurance companies. I know you've got rules and guidelines. I know our local agents have to do what they're told. I don't know what it will take but I'm telling my melahomies to fight you tooth and nail if they have to in order to get the scans their doctors order and that you all too often deny. Really now, all companies and corporate entities are made up of real-life, flesh and blood people. Get in touch with your inner humanity and stand with us instead of against us. For those of you who DO pay for scans and do it without questioning and making us fight...BLESS YOU! Help us with your fellow insuring companies.

It makes good business sense and will save you money in the long run to pay for our scans upfront. I know the rate of biopsies is rising. And I know the rates of scans will rise. That's the nature of this disease right now. Until people listen and make life changes, our rates will rise. But, eventually those rates will come down. Right now, we're in a rise. So rise with us. You know all to well how costly this disease is once it hits stage 4. It will be far cheaper to pay for scans NOW and catch much disease early, than to let it go unmonitored accurately and let it get out of control in some people and them enter into stage 4. I'm hearing from far too many who are scared because you're denying their doctor ordered scans. Get educated about melanoma.

And...learn from our fellow cancer road travelers who have colon cancer. While melanoma is rising, colon cancer is on the decline! Hallelujah and praise the Lord! Why the 30% decrease in colon cancer rates, you may ask? Because more people than ever before are getting colonoscopies as a preventative measure and precancerous lesions are caught and removed EARLY! Polyps that are cancerous are caught and removed while they're tiny before they become huge problems.

Over 10 MILLION people a year get colonoscopies and you pay for those and now everyone is reaping the benefits! Yes, many more millions than that get scans each year, but only a small percentage are related to melanoma.

We want to reap benefits, too. You can make that happen. And I'll tell you like I told the doctors. Unless you have your own melanoma diagnosis, of any stage, as part of your life, you do not and cannot possibly know what this disease does to us. Want more cost benefits? If you pay for annual scans regardless of stage...you will be able to stop paying for some to take anxiety meds and anti-depressants. Many take those because of what living with this diagnosis does to their nerves. You'll get to stop paying for some to see therapists to help them cope. Being able to get scanned and knowing they are staying more on top of this disease will help in more ways than you can possibly imagine.

I'm hoping and praying that more and more of my fellow travelers on melanoma road will make themselves heard, will advocate for themselves and for their loved ones, and really start to demand proper treatment at all levels and that starts with demanding scanning.

If more and more make those demands, more and more will see results.

But we can only do so much. We can demand.

Will you hear?

Will you help?

Or will you harm and possibly kill?

Please. Stand with us.

We're counting on you.

Remember...one day YOU may hear that YOU'VE got melanoma or that your spouse or your child does or your parent or your sibling...then what?  Will you or they have to live with the same rule you've imposed on us? I strongly doubt it.

You'll get it then because you will have gotten it.

Make a difference NOW. Before that happens.

Thank you. I really Do want to rise up and call you "blessed."

charis

Friday, March 7, 2014

Well, We Had A Little Talk With The AAD

Last night, as I write this, several of us from around the melanoma community had a phone conference with representatives of the American Academy of Dermatology. They initiated it and invited us...Oops! Let me give a little history to add the context...

We in the melanoma community take the whole month of May as "Melanoma Awareness Month" and we do everything we can to educate, honor, and remember during that month. Black is our color. We wear it, we have a black ribbon. It's who we are. Melanoma literally means "black tumor." BLACK is our color. And we stand by that. And yes. Color matters. Just ask the people of Pink Nation. We want "black" to be seen and understood to mean "melanoma" just like we see "pink" and no longer think of "little girls" but we think of "breast cancer."

The American Academy of Dermatology takes the month of May as "Skin Cancer Awareness" month and designates the first Monday as Melanoma Monday. And last year, they used ORANGE for their color for skin cancer and carried that over on Melanoma Monday. Their slogan was "Spot Orange" and they encouraged their people to wear orange. Their website and Facebook page had pictures of (presumably) dermatologists having parties in orange and we were steamed. "Orange" is simply NOT the appropriate color for any skin cancer and it's especially offensive when it's promoted for melanoma since we HAVE a color and it's BLACK.

Many of us in the melanoma community on Facebook, myself included, posted on their page numerous times asking them to stand with us. To promote black and show us some respect. We did everything we could think of and we were always met with a canned response from them. We thought we got nowhere. They had a FB event that garnered a little under 1700 virtual attendees. WE had one that had a little over 7200 virtual melahomies attending. We have the numbers. Melanoma is our disease. And we wanted our doctors...our dermatologists who are are usual first-line of defense to stand with us and it hurt tremendously to think that they didn't.

Well. It seemed like they weren't listening. BUT THEY WERE! Recently several of us, including Tim Turnham from the Melanoma Research Foundation and Samantha Guild from Aim at Melanoma, were invited to the phone conference mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. The AAD not only listened, they took NOTES! They followed through by making real changes! And they brought those changes to the table just last night...the night of March 6, 2014 when we held our phone conference.

I will be the first to say I was highly skeptical and cynical of their intentions when I received my email invitation. I knew they had their webpage up for Melanoma Monday and while there was some black, there was also orange. I fully anticipated they would tell us what they had done and expect us to rubber stamp their efforts and that would be that. They would have reached out to us and fulfilled their word from last year when they said we would be included this year.

Thank GOD, and I do mean thank GOD! they proved me wrong! Five other attendees have written up last nights meeting and I highly suggest you read their posts to get a full idea of what happened. I am EXCITED!

Read Al Estep's Black Is The New Pink post.

Read Susan Hayes' Jillian's Journey with Melanoma--A Mother's Story post.

Read Timna Understein's Respect the Rays note on Facebook.

Read Rich McDonald's Hotel Melanoma post.

Read Donna Helm Regen's Melanoma Mama post.

We DID it fellow travelers on melanoma road! We stood united last year and we were heard!

I'm not going to rewrite the above perfectly great posts about last night. They covered the bases accurately and fantastically. There's no need for me to put what they say in my own words.

No. What I want to do is highlight a triumph and encourage us all to continue working together and shining our lights, together, on this very dark disease. It can only serve to strengthen us when we stand and work together. Together with the AAD. Together with the MRF. Together with Aim. Together with each other.

Don't lose heart. Even when it seems like no one is listening...they ARE!

WE make a difference!

YOU make a difference!

God is in our midst and with God ALL things are possible.

And "ALL" means ALL!

I'm proud of each and every one of you.

Thank you for sharing your journey with the likes of me.

God bless!

charis

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mt. Pisgah, Here I Come!

Well...not any time soon, mind you. I hope. But my plans are made.

Back when I was still 12 (the summer before I turned 13), my family went to the beautiful mountains of NC for our two week vacation. While there are a lot of memories I could share, the one pertinent to this post is the memory of my Daddy shooting a golf ball of the top of Mt. Pisgah. There's not much I can do to top that...except...

When I die, be cremated and my ashes be scattered off the top of...Mt. Pisgah! 

Seriously. I've told everyone who can make that happen that that's what I want.

Originally I planned to be an organ donor, then have what was left of me donated to science, and then when science was through with me give me back to my family for cremation and a trip to the mountains. Well, melanoma took care of the organ donation part but stepped up the desire for science to have all of me.

I do want folks to gather for a memorial sing-along service. At some point. Doesn't really matter to me when that takes place, maybe at Mt. Pisgah those gathered will sing my favorite hymns, read Psalm 23, say a prayer and blow me off...the mountain.

My two grown kids will have the opportunity to blow me off. Or blow me away.

I have told my daughter that if she just can't bring herself to take me to the mountains, that she can scatter me somewhere in Conway. I don't particularly relish the idea of sitting in a jar on somebody's mantel and collect dust. I may eventually wind up in a yard sale and an unsuspecting person may take me to their mantel...and so on and so on and I may have to come back and haunt somebody.

I've also told her that if she just can't bring herself to have me cremated then she can bury me. Shoot. My parents have already bought plots for all of us. She can put my ashes in the plot. Whatever they do, I'll never know. I don't think anyway. (insert annoying smiley face here)

Yes. I've discussed my demise with my children and right at this moment, as I write, they are 32 and 23. I began talking with them about this long ago. As a matter of fact, we've always been open about death. Both my parents have always been open about death. It's a part of life. Not a welcomed part, mind you. Not something I'm thrilled to think about. But it will happen. Not even the richest person on the planet can buy their way out of this. No one can cheat death forever.

Since it's a fact of life, I want my children to know we can talk about it. Maybe it's the family I grew up in in the rural South. Both my maternal Grandma and my Daddy's oldest sister...both sides of the family...kept stacks of family pictures they would each pass around during visits. Nice picture. Nice picture. Nice picture. Grave-site. Person looking up from their casket. Another open casket picture. Nice picture. And on it goes. Lands.

This weekend my son and I were discussing this. He's my 23 year old who thinks he's NOT going to Mt. Pisgah and dump me. He'll just put my ashes in a trash bag. He had visions of my Mt. Pisgah vision and we had two different visions. He thought there would be a HUGE amount of ashes and he would literally throw them off the mountainside and they would cover unsuspecting people below and they would walk around hauling "me" with them. He kinda found that thought repulsive. Go figure. (insert  annoying smirk)

We laughed. A lot. He gave me various scenarios of what he would do with my ashes. And I would tell him that I knew he would not do that to me. I'm his mama and he does love me. He'll show respect, and maybe even shed a tear, when it happens. Heck, he'll MAKE sure I'm taken to Mt. Pisgah and he'll make annual pilgrimages to see the spot I was scattered at. I told him I didn't really want to be thrown in the air and land where I may. My mourners can dig a hole and pour me in it. Mark the place with a handmade wooden cross.

Again, I won't know what really becomes of me once I breathe my last. I plan to close my eyes here and open them in Glory. The vistas there will be so far superior to earth's Mt. Pisgah that I'll probably not give that another thought.

But I do hope they go, and take me with them even if they bring me back to Conway and stick me in the pre-bought plot in the town cemetery.

And maybe hit a golf ball. Or two.

That will top their Granddaddy.

And life goes on...

charis