kindness activist

kindness activist

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Kindness in Chaos


I can only describe the last five months of my life as SHITTY.  Sorry if that word offends you, but anything less that “shitty” would be sugar coating things.

First, my sweetheart broke his collar bone on our very first dip in the ocean of our first day of vacation.  Ouch.  

Taken a half hour or so before he broke his collar bone while body surfing...

At the Urgent Care - frozen peas on the injury while awaiting x-ray results...
We thought that was bad, until….

Just a week or so later, my sister was diagnosed with glioblastoma (brain cancer).
Celebrating my birthday in Florida with my sisters - 6 days before Annette was diagnosed with brain cancer
 (she is the one in the middle - we had no idea she was sick)

Kayaking in Florida - we paddled the wrong direction and had to work hard to get back UP CURRENT
and in a huge storm that blew in.  Sherry and I did it while healthy, Annette did it with a brain tumor!
A couple of days after major brain surgery - still smiling

After her brain surgery, but while she was still in the hospital in rehab to recuperate, my dad’s blood pressure went off the charts low and he ended up hospitalized, too.  Luckily, both family members were in the same HOSPITAL but on different floors, so I basically spent all day and all night going from one floor to the other visiting and talking with doctors and nurses.


Patient #2 (Dad) visiting Patient #1 (Annette)
My dad’s mystery illness was never really pinpointed (well, they figured out that his heart was in “a-flutter” and gave him some new meds to control that, and his blood pressure went up with fluids, but why it all started was a mystery). 

All of this time, I was living in Omaha to be close to my family, only seeing my partner when he could fly in from DC every few weeks for a couple of days.  But one night he texted me very late saying that someone had DRIVEN INTO OUR FRONT PORCH.  Literally.  Crashed into our house.  Took out the front gate, the front steps, part of a stone column, a flower planter…  Totaled 2 cars – the one that ran the red light and slammed into car number 2, pushing it into our home.  Luckily no one was injured, but a couple of months later and we still do not have a gate or steps…

Oh my...
This is the view from the porch when David came out the front door...
Pretty lousy parking job if you ask me...
 

I popped into town for 3 days to sleep in my own bed and see the destruction...
Fast forward through the late summer/fall – my sweetheart’s collar bone healed.  My sister graduated from rehab and started radiation and chemo.  My dad, though very stressed about my sister and his wife with Alzheimer’s, was doing ok.

My DAD surrounded by his 3 daughters
Then he had a heart attack (the sort that the doctors bluntly told us is called a “widow maker” and most people do not make it to the hospital after having…).  Then the attempt to put in a stent or stents to open up the 90% blockage was deemed a “no go” and a double by-pass was done.

And juuuuust when he was doing better – walking a bit at the hospital, sitting up in the chair, making us laugh again – a nurse called in the middle of the night to say they were “coding him”.

So yeah – he died November 17th.

Like I said, it’s been a shitty summer and fall.

But in the middle of it all, a mysterious kindness activist appeared…

One Sunday morning, David sent me a video and photos, saying that magically a teeny tiny work crew had appeared in the rubble of our front steps!!!!  There were bulldozers, tractors, a very diverse crew of little workers…  All set up by some lovely, unknown neighbor!!!!!

A WHOLE CREW of workers and equipment magically appeared!!!!

David added the adorable sign
To say that the kind act made me smile is an understatement.  I had a grin from ear to ear.  WHO had done such a magical thing???  These little secrets are things that I myself love to do, but who reversed the magic and presented it to US??? 

Have no fear - the workers are here!

The scene is swarming with workers (and rubble, and bits of car and flower planter...)
After basically being gone from July – November, I got home last night at midnight.  We cannot use the front door (because, hello, no STAIRS) so went in the back door.  (Well, technically, my honey went in the front door after climbing over the side of our porch, then when through and unlocked the other door for me, don’t ask…)  Anyway, I did not see the recent addition to our porch disaster until this afternoon, so I do not know if the mystery kindness activist added it TODAY or earlier. 

But look – THEY DECORATED THE RUBBLE FOR CHRISTMAS!

A SNOWMAN!
Who CHANGES COLORS!
This little light up snowman was found on the corner of our porch!  He runs off a battery and even changes colors!

And they put up actual CHRISTMAS LIGHTS right over the stair rubble, that run off a solar panel!  Hahahahaha!  The lights are not working – we need to check them tomorrow in the daylight.  It might be because we live on a busy corner (hence the car crashing into the house…) and so it is not dark enough with street lights for them to turn on?  But they are there – magical little fairy lights strewn across what once was stairs, a rail, a flower pot, etc.  I love it!!

So, I just wanted to say THANK YOU to whoever the mysterious Kindness Activist is.  You have made a very, very difficult time in my life a wee bit lighter with your whimsy.  You brought me smiles, and made me believe that things are not always going to be this, well, this shitty. 

KINDNESS COMES IN ALL FORMS.  Sometimes it takes the shape of a tiny plastic construction man or a little glowing snowman.  If we just open our eyes, and our hearts, we can see it.

Thank you. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Peggy Day Kindness


I am going to let you in on a little secret: sometimes, on days when I feel overwhelmed and cranky – I find it difficult to see the kindness in the world. 

That sentence could also read – I am going to let you in on a little secret: I am human.

Because really, all of us, each and every one, have days when all we can see is anger.  Or hatred.  Or sadness.

But here is my real secret:  on days like that, when I am a bit more clever and not wallowing in self-pity, I make it a point to OPEN MY EYES AND BE ON THE LOOK-OUT FOR KINDNESS.  Like, actually pay attention and notice it.  Because it is there, it is always there.  And when I take time to breathe, to look, to listen – I see it.  And I am inspired.  And suddenly, the day that felt dark and dreary lightens up, and my perspective changes.  And I smile. 

And at times when I really need a wake-up call, I sit myself down and write about kindness.  It’s a bit selfish really.  It is as much for me as it is for you reading this.  But at least I am honest about that!  So here we go – let’s open our eyes and our hearts and talk about a KINDNESS ACTIVIST.

Meet Peggy.

Peggy - the newest KINDNESS ACTIVIST!
Peggy has been a friend of my sister Annette for a long, long time.  They met in junior high school (and, without giving away their ages, let me just say, that was a while back…).  I don’t know their history – how often they kept in touch, hung out, etc.  But I do know their PRESENT.

Annette has glioblastoma (brain cancer).  She was diagnosed in July and it has been a confusing whirlwind of a few months for her and our family.  We have met surgeons, oncologists, nurses, social workers, rehab staff…  Dealing with brain cancer is a maze of scary tests, terms, and medicines.

But through all of the sadness, scariness, and confusion – PEGGY has been a constant source of KINDNESS.

Peggy visited at the hospital.  Came to rehab.  Had long, deep conversations with Annette.

And here is the thing that has made me so happy, PEGGY TOTALLY STEPPED UP AND HELPED OUT.  She set up PEGGY DAY – one day a week where she picks up Annette, takes her to doctor or rehab appointments, goes out to eat, gets a pedicure, anything and everything. 

At the cancer center on Peggy Day
Peggy Day has been amazing.  It is a day that Annette always enjoys – she gets to laugh and hang out with her friend.  And it is a day that the rest of the family knows means it is our time to relax, recharge, get our non-medical things taken care of.  All while knowing that Annette is in great hands.  It is awesome.

I must mention that I know Peggy Day cannot always be easy for Peggy.  She has a very busy life of her own!  Her mom is not well, her own sister died of cancer, she herself has had cancer, she has a daughter with a disability that she cares for, etc.  It is not like Peggy is just sitting around waiting for things to do, mind you!  Even though she enjoys hanging out with Annette, it means taking time out of her schedule to do it.  It means arranging child care, driving Annette around, and giving of herself. 

Peggy and her sweet daughter
Peggy and her daughter spending time with her mom




















PEGGY IS WONDERFUL. 

And she is kind.

Which is why she is being named a Kindness Activist. 

Thank you, Peggy.  You are amazing.  You have been a source of support for our family more than you can know.  And you are an inspiration.  Someday I hope to be able to grace a friend with Susan Day – where I will carry on your tradition of love, support, and kindness.

Peggy - a KINDNESS ACTIVIST extraordinaire!
P.S.- Among the countless other KIND THINGS Peggy does, she is also on the planning committee for the fundraising gala Annette’s friends are throwing her this month!  And she also sends me encouraging messages and funny stuff late at night to make me smile.  See, her kindness never ends!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Puppy Kindness

Tate playing in the grass

This is the 2nd in a series of Kindness Activists that have stepped forward and shone during my sister Annette’s illness.  There are many, many people who have being remarkably kind and helpful during this difficult time, but one in particular stands out and is very deserving of being dubbed a KINDNESS ACTIVIST.

World, meet KRISTI!!

Kristi is my sister’s friend.  They have gone through good times together, and bad times – Kristi is a breast cancer survivor and Annette helped her through her illness. 

Annette and Kristi all decked out
When Annette suddenly had to go to the Emergency room on July 26th, one of the immediate issues that needed to be dealt with was:  TATE.  Annette had just gotten a new puppy, Tate Dakota, in June (born April 16th *).  He is a Cavalier King Charles and pretty much the cutest little dog you have ever seen!  But he couldn’t go to the hospital with her, the little fella wasn’t even potty trained!  And the whole family was going to be at the hospital at all hours, so Tate needed someone to stay with.

Tate Dakota - all sorts of cute!!
Kristi didn’t even hesitate to offer to puppy-sit.  Why, she and Annette had driven to South Dakota together to pick him up just a month earlier, so I guess technically they had each known that tiny dog the same amount of time.  And Kristi had just finished puppy-sitting Tate so that Annette could come to Florida for what we call “Sister Week”, so Tate was used to Kristi’s home and even had adopted “sisters” there!

Tate and her adopted sister Haley
So, when Annette checked into the hospital on July 26th, Tate checked into Kristi’s home, and he has been there ever since.  She has even been training him!  He couldn’t manage steps when he went there, now he can.  He wasn’t potty trained very much when he went there, he now even knows how to lift his tiny leg.  Go Tater Tot go!!

Also, Kristi doesn’t just take care of Tate, she makes sure to keep his mamma well informed and entertained with news of the puppy!  She sends photos, videos, and little messages from Tate so that Annette can feel the love.

And get this:  she brought up to the hospital for visits!  Even SNUCK HIM INTO THE REHAB unit one time!!  He was the hit of the party, of course.  Everyone loves the little guy.

Tate snuggling his mamma outside the hospital in Omaha

Puppies are good medicine!  See that long tongue? 
It gave Annette LOTS of kisses!
Kristi has bought Tate bones, treats, even a special collar so that the spoiled little puppy could be in our recent family photo shoot and match everyone else!

Annette and her cutie Tate (and a shoe, which Tate likes to chew on...)
Photo by the amazing Brenda Lee Dolinski 
Annette is now out of the hospital and doing well.  She is still in physical therapy, and now has started radiation and chemo.  So, she is not quite strong enough to take care of Tate (who is an active little fella…) yet.  Kristi is graciously still watching the little guy.

Kristi – you are a KINDNESS ACTIVIST indeed.  Thank you for giving Tate a great home so that Annette can focus on healing.  We appreciate you!
The beautiful and KIND Kristi
* - TATE AND KRISTI SHARE THE SAME BIRTH DATE!  Isn't that awesome??

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Bottles of Kindness


If you have watched the news lately, you know that Senator John McCain died.

And if you happened to see my most recent Kindness Activist piece, you know that my sister was diagnosed with Glioblastoma this July.

So, if you put 2 and 2 together, you might come to the conclusion that McCain’s death (he also had Glioblastoma) hit my family in a particularly hard way. 

And you would be right.

All politics aside – whatever your opinion of John McCain is/was – my hope is that him being open and honest about his brain cancer will somehow shed more light on this disease.  My hope is that him being famous will somehow draw more attention to the lack of research and innovation in Glioblastoma treatment and cure.  May his diagnosis somehow open doors to more funding for brain cancer research, so that new medicines, trials, and CURES can be discovered.

Yesterday John McCain laid in state at the US Capitol.  I went to the Capitol to pay my respects, and in my heart I carried the respects of my family (who are in Nebraska so could not attend).  I knew the line would be long, but I had a short day at work and decided that I would wait in line however long it took. 

The United States Capitol August 31, 2018 - flag lowered for John McCain
I went early – the public viewing did not begin until 1:00 pm and I went around 2:00 because I assumed the line would be much longer after the regular work day finished at 5:00.  Before heading out I checked the list of prohibited items for the Capitol, and one thing banned was “liquid – including water”.  Alrighty then, no water!!

I have lived in the DC metro area for almost 20 years, so have been to the Capitol often.  Yesterday I was envisioning the line being indoors.  Boy was I wrong…  The lines (there were 2) were huge and were definitely OUTDOORS.  The sun was beating down and it was very, very hot.  I think when I was in line it was about 90 degrees, but it felt much hotter with the sun beating directly down.  The lines were on either side of the Capitol and weaved in and out, each “row” separated by metal barriers that were all hooked together.  It looked a bit like lines at Disney World.

Well, I hadn’t waited in line too long before I saw the first person get sick from the heat.  It was an older woman in the row next to me, and she began leaning on the metal barrier, then trying to unlock the barrier from the one next to it to open it so she could get out.  But the barriers were held together very well and were HARD to unhook.  I heard her say weakly, “I need to get out…”, and the woman next to me and I started trying to unhook the barriers to let her escape.  When we couldn’t get it open I began yelling “EMT, EMT!” and the other woman shouted, “Medic needed here!”.  Other people got the barriers open and EMTs came and took the woman onto one of many small make-shift “ambulances” that lined the street in front of the Capitol.  It made me so sad to see her on the stretcher.  I imagined that she was a die-hard McCain fan, here to pay her respects, and now she would not be able to.  I wanted to shout, “If you begin feeling better, please come take my place in line!”, but I didn’t, and I doubt she got to return.

After that incident I guess you could say that people started dropping like flies…  There was no shade (save the rain umbrellas that some people held) and the sun was H-O-T.  And there was no water for those of us that didn’t bring any.  I searched frantically for someone selling bottles of water but there was no one.  Red Cross workers had water for emergencies only, and when someone was feeling faint they would take them out of line and either have them sit on a little brick wall with a cold pack on their neck or put them on a stretcher and remove take them away.

This photo does not capture the density or length of the LINES,
but gives you some idea
I started to really worry.  I have only suffered from the effects of heat stroke once (we went to India during what turned out to be a record heat wave).  It was spooky when I got sick in India, and I did not want to relive that experience yesterday.  I think the combination of the heat and my panic was not good, and my heart began to race.  But I didn’t want to get out line – I had come to pay my respects and that is what I intended to do. 

So, I texted my sweetheart David.  He offered to come down and bring me water and my sunhat.  I was so relieved when I saw him walking up!  I poured a bit of cool water on my neck and quickly drank a bottle, saving the second one to drink while I was in the rest of the line. 

Empty chair representing POWS and those MIA inside the US Capitol
When the line finally moved to INSIDE the Capitol, it was fine.  The air conditioner kept us all cool and the wait was not difficult at all.   The site of McCain's casket lying in the Capitol Rotunda, draped in an American flag and guarded by two soldiers, was stunning.  He lie right under the beautiful domed ceiling, and those paying their respects wept, prayed, and some saluted.  
Beautiful card given to all who attended
Well, while I was still in line I asked David via text if he would mind going to the store and buying a couple of cases of bottled water.  When I got done at the Capitol, I wanted to hand out water to other people waiting in line.  He agreed, and when I was out he met me with 2 cases of water and a big rolling suitcase.

I put the water in that suitcase and off I went, back to the line!!  By this time the clouds had rolled in, so it was not AS scorching, but it was still hot.  The street was closed off (blocked by large trucks) and the area was guarded by many police officers (some of them carrying machine guns…).   The bomb sniffing dogs sniffed my suitcase 4 times to make sure it was safe.  “It’s just water!” I assured the dog wearing booties to keep his feet from getting burnt.

They were only small bottles of water, but they brought large smiles to the faces of people in line.  I had noted the diversity of the crowd inside the Capitol earlier and was amazed: there were African Americans, Indians, Asians, Caucasians, elderly people, infants, those in wheelchairs, Muslims, school children, veterans, blind people, Deaf people, those who spoke other languages, people in military uniforms, there was even a homeless man in line.  So, when I had water to hand out, it gave me joy to share it with such a wide array of people!

“How much?” some people would ask as I handed them a bottle of water.  “It is free,” was my reply.  “I waited in this line earlier and know how hot it is”.  I was thanked countless times and took joy from the wide smiles.  When I only had 3 bottles remaining a group joined the line that included 2 monks dressed in beautiful orange robes.  They were thirsty and happily took water.  It felt so fitting to be able to share this small gift with them. 

This act of kindness was a good reminder for me of how being kind not only benefits the RECIPIENT, it also gives joy to the GIVER.  I have been sad and stressed since my sister’s diagnosis and this simple act made me feel lighter and gave me a bit more hope for the world overall.

When the water was gone I went to the Vietnam Memorial (“The Wall”) for a candlelight vigil for the Senator.  It is always touching to be in that space, especially when veterans and their families are there. 

Vietnam Memorial, Washington DC - candlelight vigil for John McCain August 31, 2018
I am grateful to live in our country’s capital, so close to events like yesterday’s.  And I am thankful to have a schedule that is flexible enough to be able to participate in things. 

And I am HOPEFUL that John McCain’s illness will somehow shed light on Glioblastoma, resulting in increased funding, research, effective treatments, and a CURE.

Candles and uniform left at the Wall




Monday, August 27, 2018

Laptop Kindness


I haven’t written in this blog for quite a while.  I am sorry. 

In fact, there are many other “normal” things in my life I haven’t done for quite a bit, and there is a good reason for that.

Actually, it is a BAD reason.  A horrible, anger inducing reason:  my sister Annette has been diagnosed with brain cancer.  Glioblastoma to be precise.  I hate saying (even typing it).  I hate the reality of it.  I hate the severity of it.  I hate the look in people’s eyes when they hear it.  I hate that John McCain just died of it.  I hate SO MUCH about it. 

Annette a couple of years ago, caught mid-jump :)
But it has happened.  Our family is, of course, reeling.  She is young, only 57 years old.  She is otherwise healthy.  She has 2 grown kids and 4 adorable grandkids.  She has SO MUCH TO LIVE FOR.  She had surgery to remove the tumor (after several days in the hospital post-diagnosis waiting for the swelling to go down and the surgical team to be assembled) on July 30th.  Many fretful, stressful days later, the final pathology report finally came back and told us what we had all feared: it was glioblastoma 4, an aggressive form of brain cancer.  The surgeon did a great job with the operation – got all he could see with a microscope.  She starts radiation and chemo this week (how sucky is that, that for this form of cancer patients have to do both forms of treatment simultaneously).  Our family is doing what we always do: SUPPORTING ONE ANOTHER, LOVING ONE ANOTHER, AND EMBRACING THE GOOD MOMENTS (that do show up, though interspersed with the sucky ones…).

Annette minutes before being wheeled in
brain surgery.  I told her she looked like a big
BAKED POTATO.
I am not the type of person to ask for help.  I am guessing many of us would say that phrase, “I don’t ask for help”.  Seriously, I am the person who GIVES help, I don’t ASK for it.  And I don’t say that to brag, because when I look at that part of my character now I see that it is a serious flaw, not something to brag about.  Not being willing/able to ask for help means not being able to connect with others, not offering them the opportunity to do for me what I so love to do for others – TO HELP.

And look, I am not looking for life lessons right now.  At this point I am looking to keep my head above water, to be able to function enough to continue my professional life so I can keep my job (and therefore continue to pay our mortgage), and to spend time with people I love.  But damn it if life lessons don’t keep seeking me out…

So yes, this experience may teach me more about being vulnerable enough to ask for help.

But I refuse to label that a “good thing”, because I am not going to say “good things” come out of this horrible disease.  (Though I will admit that learning to ask for help is something that I needed.)

In keeping with that, if I can find the head space to write and take photos, this Kindness Activist blog should be cranking out the KINDNESS stories soon, because kind people are coming out of the woodwork to help my sister and our whole family during this ordeal. 

So, let’s meet the first Kindness Activist to be featured here because of dumb stupid unfair stinky glioblastoma (angry much??):  LEAH!!

Leah and Evan on their visit to Florida (he loved the ocean)
Leah is a woman I met a few years ago when I offered up our basement apartment for sign language interpreting students from my alma mater to stay in while studying at Gallaudet (a renowned university for Deaf students located in Washington DC).  She and her friend Lauren stayed with us for a couple of weeks and we became friends. 

Fast forward to now – Leah is a successful interpreter, awesome mom to her son who just started second grade (he was just a toddler when she was brave enough to come across the country to further her education), and an all-around great person.  She and I keep in touch via Facebook, see each other once in a while in person for coffee in Omaha, and she and her son came and splashed around in the ocean with us in Florida for a few glorious days, too.

Back to my sister Annette:  she was encouraged by her physical therapy team to write a blog to talk about her cancer.  The premise was that writing it would give her something to look back on when bad days rolled around, and that by reading past entries, she would see that, actually, she has come quite far since this all started and be motivated to continue to push forward.  I am not sure that the therapy team meant for her to share her blog publicly, but once she had the idea to do that in her head she would not be stopped.

Annette with her kids and grandkids the evening before surgery
She is writing and sharing an amazing blog which she has titled “Let’s Kick Some Mass”.  She has been so brave and authentic – sharing her thoughts and feelings about this whole experience.  When she started the blog, she couldn’t move her left side much.  It had been grossly affected by the swelling in her brain and the surgery.  She was also quite medicated sometimes.  Those things would have made it very difficult to TYPE, so she and I began the process of writing her blog TOGETHER.  Wait, that is wrong, SHE WROTE IT, I simply transcribed it.  She and I sat in silence.  When she talked, I typed.  She would ask me to read aloud what she had composed – over and over and over.  Each blog entry took a couple of hours.  We shed tears.  We laughed (sometime laughing so hard, we shed more tears).  But the process was:  she was the author.  All thoughts, all words, everything was HERS, I was just the fingers on the keyboard.  I loved our time working on her blog together.  It was quiet, magical, and special.  I felt (still feel) very honored that she allowed me to support her on such an important and personal task.

Then she began to get healthier.  “Lefty” (as we called her weak left side) started getting stronger.  She got better at walking.  Took less meds.  She was becoming more independent again, as she had always been.

She tried to compose her blog entry on own using her phone a couple of times, but it was super difficult.  One problem is that she got her new phone the day she got sick.  This whole illness came on so suddenly – one day all 3 sisters were in Florida kayaking, three days later she was in the ER with strange symptoms that turned out to be a mass in her brain.  So, the phone was brand new and she had not had time to figure out how to use it.  Plus, she was writing very complex, emotional, difficult things, and a phone was not conducive to that kind of work.

Also, I (her typing fingers) had to leave town.  As much as I wanted to stay in Omaha, we had a vacation home in Florida that we left at the drop of a hat when she got sick, and we had to go back and close that up.  Plus, we had to drive our car back to DC and be there in time for my sweetheart to start teaching this semester.  So, I booked an airline ticket to go home and get some loose ends tied up, then return to my family in Omaha. But that meant being away for two weeks, and surely she would need to blog while I was gone.

Team Nettie party at the hospital - shortly after pathology came back.  The fight was ON!
So, I got brave and decided to ask for help.  I posted this on my Facebook wall (hiding Annette and her kids from the post, I am not sure if that was because I wanted to surprise her if it all worked out, save her from disappointment if it didn’t work out, or because I was embarrassed to ask for help…)”

“Omaha area friends - does anyone have an extra laptop that they no longer use?? My sister has been writing a blog about her glioblastoma and we have been using my computer to compose it. But I have to pop home for a couple of weeks, and it would be lovely if she had a laptop she could use. Writing long stories (and her stories ARE LONG  :) ) on a cell phone just doesn't cut it. She would be thrilled with any brand/type - Apple, PC, it doesn't have to be fancy, just functional. If you have one laying around collecting dust, we will be happy to come pick it up anytime!! Recycle the old fashioned way - by giving to a friend!! Thanks for considering. #NotUsedToAskingForHelpButTryingToDoItMore

Not 30 minutes went by after posting before the first offer of a laptop or iPad popped in.  Then another.  Then another.  4 people offered to let her use and/or keep the equipment they had.  I was so inspired by the outpouring of help!

In the end, we got Leah’s laptop.  It was just missing the plug, which was easily replaced at Best Buy.  It is a beautiful, shiny, well-functioning computer and is PERFECT for Annette.  I put a photo of us 3 sisters on the beach on the home screen and got it set up with her “favorites” online, which of COURSE includes her blog!!

Tada - her new laptop!  (And yes, she looks THIS AMAZING just 3 weeks after major brain surgery)
Yesterday my sweetheart and I made the 13.5 drive from Florida to Virginia.  At around 2:30 am EST, Annette texted me.  She was working on her blog (the first one she had typed all by herself) and was running into a couple of glitches trying to POST what she had composed.  As soon as we pulled in the driveway I set up my laptop so she and I could be looking at the same screens and we talked through it.  We didn’t hang up until around 3:15 am my time, so I think she worked on that blog entry for a good 4 hours. 
Because it is a laptop, she can carry it anywhere to work on her blog
 BUT SHE DID IT.  (Oh sure, a pop-up screen foiled the final attempt to publish, but she had worked out how to copy and paste it to me, her back-up editor, so as a team that puppy made it online!!)

Leah, your laptop offers her independence.  It gives her a way to look at the photos she loves in a much larger format.  It lets her express herself – her happiness, her fears.  And it will allow her friends, family, and strangers she has never even met to follow this journey.

THANK YOU FOR BEING A KINDNESS ACTIVIST Leah.  Your generosity means a ton to our family. 

If YOU would like to be inspired and informed, please read Annette’s blog.  She is doing an outstanding job writing it.  You can see it here:  Let's Kick Some Mass

P.S.- I will be asking for help more often.  I am learning.

P.P.S. – There are loads more Kindness Activists that have appeared during this difficult time.  I hope to find time to recognize many of them here.  Those entries will not be as long, since I have laid the groundwork with this post and filled you in on what is happening.

Bonus photo:  sunrise sisters.  Birthday celebration on the beach in Florida just 5 days before her diagnosis.