On July 29, 1967, I said yes to marriage at 19 hoping it would change my life, not realizing the immediate change from Miss to Mrs. was only the beginning. Fifteen months after that wedding day Laura was born.
By then I could predict the future of my marriage but hoped fatherhood would bring him around. Four years later I put Laura in the back seat of my Dodge Dart and headed down Route 23 from Detroit back to Huntington, WV. I had my child, our clothes, the sewing machine, my sanity, and her future. We sang “Take Me Home Country Roads” with John Denver while I drove.
Laura was beside me as I searched to find a way in the world.
Many times I’ve been a good example.
Other times I’ve been a dire warning.
In her current situation Laura is leading the way. It’s the way of a single woman with a good job in a good company with good insurance. Even with all this goodness, her upcoming surgeries require a level of planning and organization that rivals a mid-sized home improvement project. Advanced paperwork, filing with specific providers, getting on the schedule with doctors and facilities. She is building her list of resources, learning what to expect, and working to make the process easier, mentally and physically. I have become her research assistant.
Today is my day to do research on reconstructive surgery after a double mastectomy. I’ve watched a UCLA webinar led by Laura’s surgeon, and learned about implants, “flaps” and what determines whether an immediate or delayed reconstruction is the best route. The webinar was led by one of the doctors referred to handle her case. Access to this information helps me be a better support person, and eases my motherly mind. I’m miles away but can connect with her caregivers through the UCLA site. Comfort.
I feel fortunate that she has included me as she searches to find a way through the cancer treatment maze. I’m finding my place and am glad to be seen as an asset and not a liability. As a single, working mom, Laura fell into the latchkey category during many of her school years. Now I have the chance to do the things a “stay-at-home” mom could do. Feels good.