Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A sweet friend from another era in my interesting life sent me the Joni Mitchell Painting With Words and Music dvd last week.
I finally had time to unwrap and pop it into my 'puter for a quick look. And at the first drift of that familiar guitar, I immediately broke into tears.
For years, the song I claimed as my personal anthem was All I Want (I am on a lonely road and I am traveling), and then an entire flurry of songs took on personal meanings - A Woman of Heart and Mind (time on her hands and no child to raise), Car On the Hill (I've been sitting up waiting for my sugar to show...he makes friends easy, he's not like me - I wait for judgement anxiously), and of course Jericho - the last two being particularly imprinted with the aforementioned friend's mark.
Former husband Don was People's Parties and Same Situation - one never without the other, and later A Case of You (You're in my blood like holy taste so bitter and so sweet...I'm frightened by the devil and I'm drawn to those ones who aren't afraid...go to him, stay with him if you can, but be prepared to bleed).

Another man evoked Impossible Dreamer (don't think, just dance), and in the 90s, first Urge for Going, and then Cactus Tree became the song that described my life (there's a man who...and she's so busy being free) and the man at the center of it.
And then I quietly drifted away from everything, including Joni.

Oh sure, I listened to her now and then, but less and less frequently. And then this lovely disc arrived, and I chose first to listen to Just Like This Train...sung by a Joni who, like me, is older and wiser and more full of pain and laughter and darkness and light,her voice and delivery revealing all that and more.  And beyond the first few notes, just like that, my heart was opened again and all the fear and pain and fear and pain came pouring out. "I'm always running behind the time...lately I don't count on nothin', I just let things slide..."  The original, Court and Spark version wasn't nearly as rich as this live performance. It took years of experience for Ms. Mitchell to deliver that song with the depth of knowledge required to reach out, touch and open my heart.

Joni Mitchell's music is, very simply, the soundtrack to my life.  Thank you, Rick, for continuing to share that connection with me, if no other.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Breast Cancer is Personal

Today marks what would have been my mother's 94th birthday.  After fifteen years of battling breast cancer, she died in 2001.  Usually I note this day and let it pass with a private moment.

  Me 'n (in) mom, 1952

My mother was a strong and active advocate of women's rights - in particular those involving our bodies, so after yesterday and todays news, I just feel I must stand tall and object to the  discontinuation of Planned Parenthood's funding by the Susan G. Komen Foundation.   As they ONLY discontinued PP's funding and no other organisation, I believe their decision is due to a clear political statement, and I am here to say that my mother and I do NOT agree with that decision. 

My mother died from this disease, and had she not had access to the medical care available through Planned Parenthood, she wouldn't have lived those fifteen years. 

Breast cancer frightens women more than heart disease, because we have been taught that our breasts are a major part of what makes us viable females.  If men had the same kind of breasts as women, and required mammograms, no discussion would be required, as they would be given top notch tests and care.  But women, who are consistently devalued by our society, have to fight for the most basic of healthcare.  By the way, men get breast cancer, too.  I can only imagine how difficult that situation would be for a man.

I have long-believed that making health matters - especially those with personal values involved - political issues is just wrong. 

In my twenties, I had two brushes with cancer, first with cervical cancer - caught by a doctor during my regular pap at Planned Parenthood - and then with breast cancer.  A nurse at Planned Parenthood held my hand as I cried about the lump found in one breast, and took the time to calm my fears and explain the situation. When I got pregnant and was in a blind panic, another nurse at Planned Parenthood sat with me and listened to my fears.   

As someone who has been in a situation that required me to make the extremely difficult decision to have an abortion, the fact that it was legal and safe was simply cream; I would have found a way to abort, and easily had ended up like my father's sister, who was buried in her wedding dress after a botched home abortion.

Making healthcare a political hot potato doesn't benefit anyone.  If those who would force their morality on me have their way, women will be shoved back into second-class citizenship.  No one benefits from an entire gender falling ill from lack of care.  No one.  And as my mother's advocate, I can't let that happen without a fight.