Thursday, October 15, 2009

Check Yourself

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And today . . . I had my yearly mammogram. I got the results back today too. No problems, all clear. It’s really nice not to have to worry.Boobiethon 09

I’m not really a worrier so why would I worry? I have friends that have or have had breast cancer. Way too many of them. But they have survived even if their health has been affected in other ways as a result of the treatment. It’s a scary disease. But when your mother dies way too young as a result of a teeny, tiny lump in her breast, you worry.

Mom’s cancer started with a small “spot”. It was so small that when they did the biopsy, the doctor told her they got almost all of it during the procedure. But the biopsy came back with bad news and they recommended a lumpectomy which was performed on June 1st of 2001. They said she wouldn’t need chemo but recommended radiation. Just to be sure. Mom politely declined. Five years later, she passed away. It was 5 years of a lot of pain, a lot of searching for answers, a lot of denial that cancer was causing it all and finally, acceptance. She taught us a lot of things in those 5 years.

I hate cancer . . . of any kind. It makes me really angry. So I worry. I worry for my daughter and my sisters. I worry for my friends. Males are not safe either. Look up those statistics. I recently heard of a married couple who are both suffering from breast cancer . . . both the husband and the wife.

So I remind everyone. Check yourself, have your doctor check you, get a mammogram. Regularly. So you don’t have to worry.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Aline Dewees Wiggins Cunningham


Aline Dewees Wiggins Cunnigham was the second daughter of Blake Baker Wiggins III and Eddie “Trinkins” Cabaniss of Jackson, Mississippi. She was born June 16th, 1892. Aline was a tall girl, almost 6 foot tall, and prone to slouching to hide the fact that she stood head and shoulders over many men of her time. She was quite pretty and her hair was long and thick. So thick and heavy that when she wore it up, she got headaches from the weight of her hair.

Aline was somewhat shy but very friendly and sociable. She loved her family and parties and learning new things. Her family was well known in the Jackson area and she had many opportunities to travel and meet many different people. Her friendships were strong and continued throughout her life.

Sometime around 1913, Aline traveled to Clarksville, Tennessee to visit her sister Mae who had moved there after her marriage to Herbert Hambaugh. Because travel was difficult, visits to family were extended, sometimes for months. While in Clarksville, Aline met a young man, a very tall young man named Frank Cunningham. Frank was from a good family and was quite charming. And he was tall. There were parties and a courtship. And Frank was charming enough that Aline agreed to marry Frank and to move to Tennessee, away from Mississippi and her family. They married in 1914 and settled in Clarksville, close to Frank’s large family.

Aline was much like women of her day. She left her family of origin and became part of a new family, that of her husband. She had children, two boys. Blake was named after her father and Frank was named after her husband. Aline missed Mississippi, her parents, and her siblings but travel was not easy so visits were few. But she was a wonderful letter writer and shared the news of her young boys and daily life with her family and friends back in Mississippi on a regular basis.

Aline was a sentimental soul. She researched her family lineage and corresponded with many long distance cousins through letter writing and sharing documentation. She saved letters, postcards, clippings, journals, and baby shoes. She gave her all to her husband and her boys and was, by all accounts, a beloved wife and mother. And an amazing cook.

Aline was a gentle woman who rarely even raised her voice. Later in her life she was ravaged by rheumatoid arthritis and was confined to a wheelchair. But she never complained. After being so selfless all of her marriage, there were times her boys and her husband did not appreciate her pain. She had given all to them and they were quite selfish. But others saw the truth. Both her daughters-in-law saw it as did her grandchildren. And they talk about her strength to this day.

I didn’t know Aline that well, really not at all. She died when I was 4. She was my great grandmother. I have memories of sitting beside her and looking at her hands. They were twisted and she couldn’t move her fingers much but she was so gentle. She enjoyed playing cards. And I remember when she died. We weren’t there but when my mother got the phone call, I remember her getting down on her knees and praying and crying. She wasn’t her grandmother. My mom married one of Aline’s grandsons. But Mom had such admiration and respect for Aline and they were close. My grandmother used to say that my mom reminded her of Aline.

The stories of Aline have inspired me all my life to be a better person. Different from Aline because the times are different but taking all of the good in her and trying to live my life better. There may have been bad and I just haven’t heard it. I would hope so since really, no one is perfect.

It is said by some that when you die and the people that knew you die, it’s as if you didn’t exist. I don’t want that to happen. So I write about Aline here. And other family members that have passed. Now you know a little about them too. And they can live forever.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Welcome October


"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."

- Elizabeth Lawrence

I am so very glad to see October arrive. Fall is my favorite season and in Tennessee, October is one of the most beautiful months. The weather cools off, the light changes, the leaves turn beautiful colors and the countdown to the autumn holidays begins.

There are a few other things that I love about October:

  • It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • College Football is in full swing
  • It’s my Blog’s 2nd Anniversary!

Last year, I found Blurb. It is a website where you can download the software to your computer that allows you to lay out and create a book of anything you want. Once you get it all laid out, you upload it to the website and they print the book for you. The cool thing is . . . you can download your blog into the software and then print it in hardbound form, saving it forever. I did that last year for the first anniversary of my blog and will doing it again soon for the second year. I figure that way, maybe my grandchildren will one day read about how it was way back in 2008 and 2009 and will maybe know their old grandmother a little better.

Weight Loss Update - I am going to try to keep my “scale days” to once a month around the first day of the month. As today is the first day of October, I weighed this morning and I have lost 30 pounds in 10 weeks. I am very happy with the progress.

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