Kind of sad, kind of funny

Back in Ann Arbor, my friend Juanita continues to do battle with breast cancer. This is the woman who lived with me when she was a teenager and Abby and Daniel were very young. She is mostly Native American and had been in the foster care system because her mother had that reservation alcoholism thing going on. She and her siblings were basically abandoned. We loved having her under our roof and I only got a little cranky when Chris, now her husband, was sneaking in and out the bedroom window at night.

Anyway, now she has the most beautiful baby on the planet. I can say that because Alexis is the closest thing I have to a grandchild so I am all grandmother-biased, but she really is beautiful and whimsical and smart. Alexis has been doing a nice job of handling her mama’s serious illness. She’s two and Chris and Juanita are very smart about telling her enough but not too much. Alexis is quite verbal about the whole thing and happy to explain to the waitperson at the restaurant and the clerk at the store that mama has a boo-boo, she doesn’t feel good and her hair is all gone. If Juanita doesn’t restrain her she’s also happy to pull up mama’s shirt or tug off her wig to show evidence of the situation.

Summer is a hot time to wear a wig, so a lot of the time, Juana just wears the cap I knit her or a do-rag. The problem is that Alexis has always been one of those hair twirling babies and while she’s doing well with the stress of mom being less available, she’s spending a lot of time in their bed at night, wanting to twirl Juanita’s hair as she drifts off to sleep. Except, of course, Juanita has no hair. Alexis will sternly order Juanita: “Go get you hair mama!” Juanita was obliging until the most recent heat spell, at which point she said, “Alexis! It’s too hot for mama to wear her hair!” Alexis had a bit of a fit. “GO GET YOU HAIR!”

I’ve always admired Juanita for lots of things- she’s a true survivor of the school of hard knocks and she is funny and kind and generous and no-nonsense and most of all, she’s resourceful. When I spoke with her yesterday she said that she’s making Chris wear the wig in bed at night and Alexis seems perfectly satisfied to twirl mama’s hair on daddy’s head.

In an effort to keep some things familiar and constant, Lexi wears her “weeding” dress most all the time. Good choice, don’t you think?

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6 responses to “Kind of sad, kind of funny

  1. A bit of humor in the midst of hard times. I hope her treatment is going well.

  2. My heart aches. There is nothing like children, however, for forcing us into a sense of normality. And, Lexi clearly has a wonderful sense of fashion . . . really, if you are only going to wear one dress . . . make it fabulous.

  3. Your title is so apt, funny yet sad. When Ella was here in June, I had a band-aid on my arm covering a squamous cell tumor that had popped up and I hadn’t had removed yet. She would touch it ever so gently and say, “Ow-ee.”

    Children do have a way of sensing things, don’t they. Lexi’s parents have done a wonderful job of explaining to her. I hope that Juanita wins her battle.

  4. Maybe I’m biased, but she’s in a good locale to get the best treatment. We’ve had a few women at work who have been there, done that with breast cancer including the woman who works in the cubicle next door to my wife. They’ve all returned to work, seemingly none the worse for wear.

    That girls needs a better sandbox outfit.

  5. She, like you, finds beauty in the weeds.

  6. That photo is exceedingly precious!

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