My Journey through Breast Cancer

On October 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) ... or as we like to call it, extreme measures for a nap (EMFN). For a while, this blog will be my cancer journal. Enter at your own risk.

13 February 2008

The beginning

For many years now I've been VERY slowly but surely trying to put together the pieces of my grandparents' life stories, and get it written down. Its hard work, and I don't get to it very often, but there are bits and pieces I've finished ... and I feel like posting them. This is the first in a short series of stories about my grandparents. In the future, there will be no introduction ... just a vignette from the lives of Verl and Lois Lindley.

My grandparents’ story begins long before either of them was even born. At the turn of the century, in Oklahoma, my grandpa’s Great-Grandmother, Leah Bales, was an old-fashioned Quaker preacher woman. She wore a grey dress and used “thee” and “thou” in everyday language. "You" was a pronoun reserved for God alone. She would travel from town to town, preaching the Gospel to anyone who would listen. She was exactly 80 years older than her great-grandson Verl, right down to the day. They celebrated their birthdays together, and on one such December 9, they had a race on the sidewalk in front of the house. I wish I knew more about her, I imagine she led an interesting and varied life.

In 1930, when Grandpa was six years old, his Grandma Bales was dying. Just before she passed away, she called young Verl to her side.

When I think of this well-worn family story, I always imagine a dimly-lit room, small and cozy, the furniture is sparse, maybe just a bed, a nightstand, and a chair for the nurse, or a visitor. As she lay there, covered from head to toe in quilts, she beckoned her young grandson over to her side. He stood there, somewhat in awe, somewhat in fear, not sure what to do, how to stand in the presence of this great and very old lady. And then she slowly reached her old, wrinkled hand over to him and placed it on his head. She prayed for him, and then she looked him square in his big blue eyes, and with her thick Oklahoma accent, said “Verl, the Lord wants thee to be a preacher.”

I don’t know what other conversation took place between the old woman and the young child, but it was in that moment my grandfather’s destiny was set. Well, if you believe in that sort of thing. In this case, I’m sure it had more to do with divine revelation than arbitrary fate. That great woman of God saw in her grandson everything that he could be, and would be, if he would simply allow God to lead. Today Grandpa likes to say he never has been able to get that hand off his head.

As he left her side, and headed back outdoors, he was probably blinded by the bright sun, and soon was back at play with his friends. But that moment would stay with him for a lifetime, as such moments in our lives are bound to do. It may not have impacted the six-year-old much at the time, but his grandmother’s words would leave an indelible mark on the rest of his life.

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