You Won’t Fool Me Twice

3 02 2011

Mom and sister Pat, together at last, celebrating Mom's 75th birthday, Feb. 6, 2011

It’s January 2006. My mother-in-law, Margaret Neilson, is approaching her 70th birthday. She hasn’t seen her sister Pat in a few years. Yet, they’re the best of friends, emailing and talking on the phone every single day. Pat lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. Margaret (I call her Ma) lives just 10 miles from me.

Waalah! A great idea! I’ll fly to Salt Lake City, Utah, with Ma and my then infant son, Theo. Ma’s never been on an airplane. The idea is terrifying, but for me — and with me — she’ll do it. I promise it’ll all be OK, and quote some safety statistics about automobile vs. airplane travel that she ignores. I tell her no worries — they serve alcohol on the flight once we’re up in the air.

I start looking into flights. Then, my diagnosis. Breast cancer. My world turned upside-down. Hospitals, tests, surgeries, treatments. Stat. No time, no room for travel plans. The trip is abandoned.

Fast-forward almost five years, to New Year’s Day, 2011. Mom’s 75th birthday is approaching on Feb. 6. I am wracking my brain, trying to think of something to get her. Something special. I’m usually pretty competent in this category, but this time, I’m at a loss.

Then it hits me. She still hasn’t seen her sister Pat, since those first trip plans back in 2006 had to be wiped from the slate.

So, I start looking into flights. I call my neighbor, Mark, who works for Delta. He’s offered “buddy passes” to us many a time, but we’ve never used one. We could really use one now.

“Sure,” he says. And he starts looking into it.

Then, a few days later, I find the lump.

I tell Mom. She tells Aunt Pat. They both say, “Nevermind. Cancel the flight. We’ll do it some other time.”

“Oh, no,” I say. “Cancer caught me off-guard last time and spoiled it for us. Not this time. Nothin’ doin’.

“You, Aunt Pat, are still getting on that airplane on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011. Yes, that’s two days after my first chemo. So what?”

Cancer doesn’t get the last word. I do.

As I write these words, Aunt Pat is on a non-stop flight to Detroit from Salt Lake City, via Mark’s buddy pass. She should be over, oh, who can say? Chicago by now? Her plane will be touching down in 36 minutes. She will be at Mom’s 75th birthday party Sunday — a small family gathering at our house.

Yes, I did have to change the menu. I’m not up to making my homemade lasagna as I’d originally planned. We’ll order pizza. Big pizzas. And we’ll go sledding down hills christened with this newly-fallen snow.

We will be together — all of us. Mom, all of her kids, spouses, grandchildren, and her best friend in the world — her sister, Pat — on Mom’s 75th birthday.

Nope. Cancer, you aren’t going to spoil it for us this time. I’m on it.

You might have fooled me once. But you’re not going to fool me twice.

— Amy Rauch Neilson




13 responses

3 02 2011
Roni Kinsella

Amy, I love reading your blogs and cry at most all of them but not sad tears.
Tears of admiration of you, your strength, vest for life and kick ass taken names attitude! Keep them coming …Thanks

3 02 2011

I’m so glad it worked out this time and it’s all thanks to you for pushing through the bad and ugly and making this a reunion that none of you will forget. Enjoy the party and make some great memories!

3 02 2011

I jes luv ewe.

3 02 2011
Susan Maciolek

You rock,Amy!

3 02 2011

Your an amazing LADY AMY!!!!!!!!!!

3 02 2011

I just love the way you write!! Your spirit shines through.

3 02 2011
brian Murphy

Amy–you really are amazing!

3 02 2011

“Cancer doesn’t get the last word. I do.” I LOVE that! God Bless you, Amy. And your Mom as she celebrates her 75th birthday!! What a blessing that the two of you have each other!!

3 02 2011
Bob Adams

You ARE an amazing person. How does Don keep up with you.

4 02 2011
Margaret Neilson

Thank you so much Amy for bringing Pat here. But look what you’ve done. Here it is 1:00 in the morning and we are just getting to bed. Way too much gabbing! I’m usually in bed by 10:00. Pat had a nice sunny flight and really enjoyed the wheel chair ride. She said if she had walked she would still be walking to get her luggage. Apparently the airport in Salt Lake isn’t this big.

4 02 2011

I love reading your blog, Amy. You are such a talented writer and people can actually feel what you are writing, if that makes sense. You are really amazing.

4 02 2011
Anne Noble

Amy – I subscribed to this because a mutual Freelance Success friend posted about it. I am so glad I did. Please know you are in my prayers and I will pray that you kick cancer’s butt. Have a wonderful time with your family!

4 02 2011
Mary Goedert

Amy….great blog…great subject….great writer…and a great attitude. Your attitude is amazing, and I love the power you have…you are owning this!

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