Wednesday, May 11, 2022

She Reignited My Passion for Life—Last Week

One of the people who has changed my life the most is Dee Ready. If you’ve read my memoir, “Two More Years,” you know some of the story: how we met over a decade ago through blogging, how she edited my novel (for free) after I paid another editor who never did the work, and how she somehow—through it all—became like family. 

I still can’t explain how or why certain miracles happen, but I can say I’ve experienced them frequently. Meeting Dee has been one of those experiences in my life. 

In her early years, she joined a convent and became a nun. (That story here: ) but because of that, she never dated much, never got married, and never had children. Instead, she became an expert on etymology and Latin, taught at prestigious schools, wrote a bestselling book published by Crown (a subsidiary of Random House), spent time abroad, AND amassed a wealth of knowledge that’s truly rare to find. In fact, we play Bladerdash and it isn’t fun because she already knows ALL of the words that the rest of us are trying to lie about. Leave it to an ex-nun!

Anyway, Dee decided she would come out and see us this May for two weeks, the longest she’s ever come. We’ve made a habit of seeing each other twice every year. Usually I go out there with one of the kids, and she’ll also come out here. But this time was different. I’m so sick with cancer…and tired. I’m just not my bouncy, Energizer Bunny self, and I discerned so much concern in Dee’s 86-year-old eyes. 

We played games and had hilarious conversations—like usual—but then something strange happened. I saw an excitement spark; Dee had an idea. “I’m excited to get that tattoo,” Dee said, and I almost swallowed a grape without chewing it!

My oldest daughter, Ruby, works at Mad Ink Studios and has garnered quite a list of clients. “Are you serious?” I asked. “Ruby will be stoked.”


I studied Dee. I didn’t want to be a “stick in the mud,” but I don’t even have a tattoo—for crying out loud. And sometimes older skin is thinner than it used to be. I just didn’t want her to get hurt. But I didn’t say anything, and that following Saturday I actually brought Dee to get a tattoo of a lion!

“Does it hurt?” a girl asked after finding out Dee had been a nun. 

“Actually, not at all,” Dee—that literary legend—said. 

Everyone else paled because some people would be crying on the ground while getting a tattoo. Then Dee told stories about the ‘60s and her time in the convent. It was the strangest, most wonderful conversation I could possibly imagine EVER happening at a tattoo parlor!

The excitement of the week didn’t stop there. Dee got that tattoo, went on a motorcycle ride with a handsome young biker, went on her first date in 50 years, and reignited my passion for life. 

I’m still not sure why God decided to let me meet Dee, but I am so thankful. It’s honestly some sort of miracle.

She sat writing her morning pages the other day, and I couldn’t help studying her. Our dogs and cats ran around the house. Our kids asked her to look at this and that and told her all sorts of stories. Our house is somewhat of a disaster because we have so much going on, but Dee practically glowed—just loving every bit of it. And I thought about all of that joy she obviously felt, she’s brought that same feeling to us, 10-fold. It’s because of her that I’m in editor. Not only did I get a friend—she taught me an entire profession. She showed me the ropes. And she never asked for anything in return….

So, the tumor board is reviewing my case today, and many things are up in the air. Remember how they found that growth in my boob? It’s benign—so THAT’S something good. (I’m soooo glad God‘s letting me keep my good part.) The team canceled femur radiation (12 hours before my mapping/prep appointment—Ug!), just saying it’s too much at this time and that the risks don’t outweigh the benefits. An MRI came back from yesterday, and my back isn’t looking stellar. My lower back muscles have “severely atrophied” and the cancer continues to persist. 

But none of that seems to matter.

I had just seen one of the dearest people get a tattoo, drive off in a Mustang for a date, and completely shine with more life than some 20-year-olds I know!

The point is that we’re all getting older. We’re all facing some type of hardship. We all have good days and bad days. Some of us, like me, even have cancer. But like my adopted family member, Dee, we can make the best of things—and brighten other people’s lives along the way. Dee is back home now, but she’s already planning her next visit. I can only imagine what that woman has up her sleeve.

What an adventurer!

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