Tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time, Mama Iva will head into surgery at Long Beach Memorial where a highly capable surgeon named Dr. Shuman will replace her aortic valve with some tissue from a pig. (Thanks, pig!)
This is fantastic news since she has put off the surgery for a year or more, fearful of the knife and the long recovery. Mama Iva is not an old lady who sits around and knits. She is a full-time working woman who also throws legendary parties and long recoveries do not fit into her busy plans.
In the photo above, Mama Iva and I are sharing giant margaritas in Ensenada and she is watching a mariachi band nearby. We had such a grand time that when we returned to the cruise ship tour bus a tad late, we were given a stern Hispanic talking to. We just giggled into our cocktails (they'd poured the remnants into plastic to-go cups for us) and promised we would not do it again.
I feel very conflicted about not being there but Cousin Linda (a retired surgical nurse) and my brother, Rob, will be there. As her recovery will take 6-8 weeks, we are tag-teaming. That my brother is leaving his home and family in Mississippi at the peak of hurricane season, is no small sacrifice. I will return to LA later this month and so on. The whole episode offers some strong arguments for having offspring.
And, as if I needed another reason to stress out on September 11th, my beloved step-sister, Julie, will have a biopsy taken from her breast to check for cancer. Julie has had the 'breast cancer' Sword of Damocles hanging over her head as long as she can recall.
Her sister, Kathy (an awesome gal), died of breast cancer at age 37. Her mother, Shirley (my stepmama), also had a double mastectomy. To top it off, cancer runs in both sides of her family. Often times, Julie has felt like it was only a matter of time before the genes caught up with her.
The great news is, they have caught a tiny speck in her breast very early. Also, her wonderful husband, Chris, is a rock of support. Julie is like my mother - fun-loving, tough and wildly popular. She is an expert fisherwoman and lives in the Pacific Northwest. Much like Mama Iva, she has an interest in cocktails - I love this about them.
If you are the praying type or inclined to send along some healing thoughts, please do so. Aim for Long Beach, California and Seattle, Washington. And I know it is cliche but here goes: Hug your loved ones close tonight and always.