pedaling away on my stationary bike this morning, I noticed my pace is a half-minute faster than last week. Incremental, but significant.

Sitting in meditation this morning, I noticed a greater sense of ease, despite the empty belly and mental distractions of the growing to-do list. Incremental, but significant.

Talking with my grandmother this morning to wish her a beautiful day and congratulate her on reaching 97 years, I noticed the joy radiating from her laughter and my heart… not much different than every other day we talk, but that joy was definitely magnified today. Incremental, but significant.

She has always been the only grandparent I’ve ever known…

Her husband left when my dad was 13 years old. She raised three kids on her own, working full-time until she retired at the age of 82, living in the same house in which she remains, never driving a car or making it back to her birthplace in Shiner, TX to revisit her family farm or bury her four siblings, all of whom have long since passed.

When I moved back to Cincinnati 19 years ago, I spent at least one day a week with her, washing laundry, helping her with chores, and just spending time talking. Over time, life got in the way and now I certainly regret that I haven’t made time to visit her more frequently.

When I moved back to Cincinnati 19 years ago, I spent time with her as she received chemo treatments. While at the clinic we didn’t talk much, seemingly out of respect for all the other patients, trying to be comfortable in their recliners, finding their own experience with chemo. On the surface, she appeared strong and not sick. Kind and not angry. Brave and not scared. Perhaps she was very much all of those things yet she found a way to always only show the goodness… she has beaten cancer four times.

Maybe her superpower of grace is fueled by years of strife that is bottled up deep inside her, yet you would never know her to struggle. Not that this is the path for all or many. Maybe it isn’t even the path for me… but I believe that being with her in chemo on Fridays, witnessing sickness through the weekend before getting back to work on Mondays, all the while keeping a smile on her face and never complaining… taught me so much about patience, persistence and grace.

Lessons that supported me every day I was inpatient, waiting for the chemo to run its course, waiting for the antibiotics to drip, waiting for the nurses to check vitals, waiting for my stem cells to build a new immune system. Expressing gratitude in every moment possible, even when uncomfortable with pain or nausea, embracing the nausea as opportunity to feel better, and finding any boredom as opportunity to tune inward with meditation or reflection.

Somehow, despite all of her experience (not my place to judge as wonderful or painful, simple or challenging, beautiful or horrible, etc), at 97 my grandmother continues to do her best to simply keep moving forward.

And now I find myself awaiting (anticipating) my 6 month follow-up MRI that will offer insights on the effects (success?) of HSCT. Rather than be consumed with all that I cannot control, as soon as my thoughts drift toward the hopeful unknown, or the doubtful critique, I choose to refocus on the present moment. Maybe hear my grandmother laughing, or saying “Oh, well, Not to worry, honey! Not to worry.”

So I spend my time figuring out how I can support myself in healing, and help others on their journey. Make time to connect with what matters. Get inspired to see my own 97th birthday.

Incremental, and significant.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Shannon O'Neal says:

    Here’s to strong women, wisdom, our elders, and selflessness in all its manifestations. As always, thank you for sharing this! With you for the 6 month check.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jdskoenig says:

      Cheers! Thank you Shannon!


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