Welcome to the Chaos
- Quirky single mom of two monkeys. I used to beat up the kids that picked on the "special students" during recess. Now I work with those with chronic mental illness. I speak quite a few languages, enjoy coed naked underwater basket weaving, have an addiction to Sushi and humor is my defense mechanism. Arrogant people make my right eye twitch. I'm ambidextrously brained, I will knit for tattoos, I am the friend that everyone comes to for advice and bail money. I pride myself on keeping my eyes, ears, heart and mind open. Making me laugh goes a long way with me, I think the brain is the sexiest organ and I'm the kinda gal you can take anywhere and I'll have a good time. Other than that, I'm just me.
They say every family has a black sheep. Well, my aunt Carol was the rainbow colored one. To me she will not only always be my favorite aunt, but one of the best female role models I had and will ever have. Aunt Carol redefined original. You can walk to the beat of your own drum, she had her own five piece band. If Lucille Ball, Betty Page and Audrey Hepburn had a lovechild, maybe, just maybe, you could come kind of close. Funny as hell, yet equally graceful. Ladylike manners when she was telling someone to go to hell (and believe me they had it coming). Dancing forward through life bold and brave, yet always thinking of others first.
She was the oldest of five siblings in a household that saw many rough times. My grandfather died young, barely in his 50’s at the time thanks to the working conditions he was in day in and day out. No matter how bad things were, she always made sure all of her brothers and sisters had a present beneath the tree on Christmas morning and every lovingly wrapped present was from “Santa.” Oh how she loved Christmas. Trips to her house in Minneapolis were my favorite times ever growing up. Second only to their trips down here. Trips, I am very grateful to say, that happened pretty frequently.
Aunt Carol was also my very first official Partner in Crime. Many of you know that I inappropriately grope my coffee mug every morning. What you don’t know is how deep my love of coffee goes. Ever since I can remember, I have loved it. I would bug my parents incessantly when I was little for some. As it would “stunt my growth,” it was off limits. Bless Dannon’s heart though, they made a coffee yogurt that my parents would get me. When we visited aunt Carol, she would sneak it to me. She was so slick about it too. When she made me hot cocoa, she’d use coffee instead of water. We called them “Cocoa Mochoas” and they were our little secret. They were so delish. That’s right, screw you Starbucks. I still make them for myself during the winter. And it still brings tears to my eyes on the first sip.
I have a million great aunt Carol stories. But damn it, I should have a million more. My monkeys should have their own arsenal of great aunt Carol stories forming. OMG she would so love them. And she would so be their favorite. But, Cancer felt otherwise. Fuck you very much Cancer. I swear one day you will wreak the just desserts you deserve. If only it were a person we could torture for decades day in and day out.
It was roughly the late 80’s when she was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer. A time when little was really known about it and old people whispered “Cancer” as though anything louder would summon it like a beast from the deepest bowels of Hades. No one wants to wake that beast. Doctor’s didn’t really do mastectomies. Radiation and chemotherapy were their sole weapons of choice. “It’s not the Cancer that kills you, it’s the treatment” we’d hear over and over. WTF does that mean?? Then why do it?? She beat it over and over again. A tumor would pop up and she’d ride it out until it was gone. Then I guess it got really pissed. It came back with a vengeance and it spread. At one time she had a brain tumor the size of a golf ball on her brain. Oh the grin on her face when she looked back at the baffled doctors when she lived through the treatment for that one and it had completely disappeared. Eventually, the beast decided to devour her entire body at once. No holds barred, spitting in the face of all the prayers and hopes for recovery. The last 3 1/2 months or so of her life, my mother lived there so she could take care of her. Every Friday after school, my dad and I would make the somber trip up. Every Sunday, the dreaded ride home. No matter how bad she felt,, even when she was down to 84 lbs and you could SEE the tumors all over as she lay in her hospital bed, aunt Carol was always smiling. She never once complained, never once screamed “why me?!?” and she always asked how you were doing right at first sight.. Not out of a point of formality, but because she truly cared.
I was 15 when she was taken from us. Her funeral is still vividly etched in my mind. I sat paralyzed at the back of the funeral home at her wake, praying repeatedly that it was just a nightmare and I’d wake up any minute in my own bed, back in Wisconsin. That is until I noticed my grandma alone in her own little corner with the same desperate look on her face. My ever constant personification of strength sat there looking so small and fragile. Like the weathered depiction of heartbreak. It pained me to hear her “no” when I asked her if she’d gone up yet. Everyone was so busy surfing their own overwhelming tide of pain that she got lost in the proverbial shuffle. So, I took a deep breath, grabbed her hand and up we went. Our slow and heavy stride in unison, the closer we got, the tighter our grip to each other. When we got there, both of our breaths were held as we looked down at our own version of an angel knowing each other well enough to know that we wouldn’t be uttering the typical “they did a really nice job on her” or “she looks peaceful” bullshit. Nope. We were both thinking “ fuck you, I want her back.” There is only so much heartbreak even the strongest of people can bear and grandma, though tough as nails, was no different. She lost it. Yup, grandma literally tried to climb into the casket with her. I thought she was just going to hug her goodbye. I should have known better before I saw her little leg hike up over the top of the casket. It’s ok, you can laugh at the image. I can giggle a bit about it now. Knowing I was about to get my ass kicked, I proceeded to pull grandma up off of aunt Carol and the casket. I swear to you she was laughing her ass off up in heaven looking down at the scene. Everyone else stood there dumbfounded. It didn’t sink in until I had struggled/dragged grandma half way to the exit door of the funeral home and by then she was in no mood to be coddled by them. I am proud to say I had the sense to grab her purse on the way out and not just for the possible need for self defense should she try to turn and make a run for the casket again. When we got outside, I shoved a cigarette in her mouth, lit it, did the same (not many can say they smoked their first cigarette with their grandma nor that it was a Pall Mall straight) and said “go ahead and hit me for saying it, but someday, this is all going to be ok. It’s going to hurt like a son of a bitch and that pain will never really go away, but it will be ok.” She took a long deep drag, looked at me and said “You’re right, I do wanna punch you and it does hurt like hell. But, no one loves you more than I do. Thank you Carol Ann.” For months she would repeatedly call me Carol Ann. For years after she would still slip and do it on occasion. You know what, it was the best compliment I have received. That I will ever receive.
So, yesterday I stumbled upon @boobiewed on Twitter. I always support Breast Cancer awareness and the fight to end it day in and day out. This is our month though. What @shimmer418 and @honey_is_evil are doing is amazing, brave and yes, fun. Above all, I found it very liberating. The goal is to show your breasts on Wednesdays across Twitter to raise awareness for Breast Cancer. I’ve seen people bare their breasts for awareness before, but I have never had the courage to do it. I’ve had issues with mine for the better part of my life now. I showed up to fifth grade sporting a b cup on my (then) little frame. My maiden name ends in witz which was changed to “tits” for that whole year. And the damn things just kept growing. Teen years with a D cup was rough. By the time they hit DD, they had turned into an entity of their own to some respects. No matter how hard I tried to hide them, they were ogled. Older people would talk to me like I was stupid because I had big breasts. I know, it’s like the size 4 friend we all have that likes to complain about being fat while we all want to smack the shit out of her. It’s really not my intent. And in all honesty, I don’t have the right. My point is that I’ve got some body issues going on, which every one of us does whether we admit it or not on some level. My tatas just happen to be one of the biggest catalysts for that. No pun intended there. Even though I’ve come to terms with them in some aspects, I still always hide them. Until yesterday. I thought about it, thought about aunt Carol and my grandma and lifted my shirt, snapped a pic and plastered my polka dot bra proudly all over my lil corner of Twitter. And, I will continue to do so. Hell, I submitted it to the @boobiethon today.
I am sure I speak for all those involved when I say that if just one person learns to do regular self exams, one person learns they may be at risk, one person learns about early detection, then by god it is more than worth it. There are some of my sisters out there that have battled Breast Cancer and won that don’t have the luxury of bitching about breast size any longer. They are merely thankful to be alive. So, for them, for my aunt Carol (who was the polka dot bra in the drawer of life), my monkeys and for every woman out there I say “Yup, I have boobies. I am proud of them, I vow to examine them regularly and to remind every woman in my life to be proud of theirs and do the same.”
Please take the time to follow: @boobiewed, @shimmer418, @honey_is_evil and @boobiethon.
Please take the time to visit:
The Official BoobieWed Page
The Official Boobiethon Page
And, pretty please with bra whose underwire never pops out on top, check your breasts monthly, encourage the women and men (yes boys, while you cannot live the dream of staying home and fondling them all day, you are able to get it as well, though much more rare) in your lives to do the same. Get involved, help raise awareness and show us your tatas!
*Please feel free to e-mail me at JustNatali@gmail.com with any links or tweeps you would like added to my next post which will be a resource of information regarding Breast Cancer. Give me your touching, your funny, your painful, your medical, whatever you would like. I welcome them all. Hell, I’m even going to post a pattern on how to knit a breast. Seriously. One survivor uses them for implants in her bras. I would LOVE to start a group that knits them for survivors, so if you are interested in that, shoot me an e-mail too.
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