Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Saturday 14th March

Today is Michael’s birthday. He is 13. Some people seem to freak when their ‘baby’ or ‘last born’ turns anything, let alone becomes a teenager. I suppose it’s a reminder of them getting older, never mind the child. For me, it’s just how it is: today is Mick’s turn to become a teenager and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

He is, after all, a growing young man J

We went to dam for a picnic – on the public side. It was rather nice to be away from the canoeing and filling a different role for a change. We played a long game of French cricket (which confuses me sometimes and David says I always throw too hard) and then continuous cricket (which just exhausts me at times) and it was the greatest fun. The best, of course, was to see Mike having a great time. All the cousins could not be there, which was a pity, but it was really good, anyway.

In the morning, it was the Open Day at both high schools, so Dani and Michael were involved. Poor Mike, having his birthday on a Saturday and having to go to school. At least there was no homework and he could get home – or to picnic – at a fairly decent time.

Dani organised a display of Canoe Polo at her school – well, a demo, anyway. This involved loading and schlepping boats to-and-from the dam, which was, of course, hot and tiring. At least I could jump into the Parktown pool briefly and cool off.

It’s doing things like this that just make life go on and the reality and discomfort of the operations etc just seem so alien. I suppose my knees were sore yesterday, but that isn’t what I remember. I also know I was damn thirsty for a while (it was so hot) and I started getting the chemo taste, but that isn’t what dominated the day. Yay!

Mum always said that we should focus on ‘the common round, the daily task’. I don’t suppose she necessarily meant rushing between schools and home on a Saturday, loading and transporting boats and organising picnics, but that is part of the whole ‘ordinariness’ of life that happens – and that is the reality that tends to stay as part of us. At times, I think that, perhaps, I will live with the chemo taste for at least as long as I am taking this medication; or, perhaps, I will have a really unhappy stomach for just as long. I even wonder about my knees getting worse, or, at the very least, staying this sore for the next 5 years.

All that is incidental – it may happen, or it may not. I consider it to be a kind of ‘hanging on’ of the cancer thing.It is not what life is about, though. That is trips to the dam and to school, planning and executing picnics and playing cricket with the kids and chatting to family and friends. That is what makes a life.

The cancer thing is not ‘daily’ or ‘common’, but that does not necessarily make it special. The cancer and its aftermath are definitely not going to dominate my life. They are an important part of my journey and will definitely stay with me in many ways, but they are not what enduring memories are made of.



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