“It takes a ranch,” has been one of our family sayings through the years. Some may say “It takes a village…”, but for us it takes a ranch. We rally around this in both good and difficult times. It took a ranch in our family this fall, as we rallied around my dad’s diagnosis of prostate cancer.
So, while Mom and Dad prepared to head south, I tossed baskets of books and my new puppy, Angus, into the car and headed north. We woke the first morning to an eagle outside the window.
Daddy and I drove around the ranch and I drew maps and wrote notes of what I needed to remember in pastures and wells.
Mom and Dad off to Tucson.
Angus (aka the littlest cowboy) and I unloaded my books and his blankie (not in that order) and settled in.
Angus was particularly good at checking cows — if he could stay on my lap!
My running trail by the north dam.
I’m in a PhD program through the California Institute of Integral Studies, a small private university in San Francisco. I searched many years for this program – based in transdisciplinarity and creative inquiry. Those baskets of books were filled with coursework. The table (and rest of the house) became my desk. I’m exploring the intersections of ecolinguistics/linguistic human rights, landscape literature, and holistic resource management.
Early morning study time.
I talked with Luke and said, “So, it’s a wild time. I move between reading about highly theoretical academic ideas about transdisciplinarity, ecolinguistics, linguistic human rights, and narrative inquiry—and then I have to check to make sure the manure is not clogging the pipes in the wash out.”
“Sounds like you’re living your program, Mom,” Luke said.
He was right.
As 2018 drew to a close, our family has much to give thanks.
The tumor was removed and cancer caught before it spread. I was on the phone with Mom when Daddy was in the surgery that was supposed to take one hour. One hour became two, then, three, and stretched into four. “This is too long for Wink to be under. Wait, there’s the doctor! I’ll be back.”
She called me later to describe how the very erudite and formal young doctor said to her, “I got in there and couldn’t find the prostate. So, I thought ‘What the hell?‘”
For those of you who know my dad, you know he has shattered his pelvis twice in the previous 15 years due to horse wrecks which resulted in hospitalization and my discovered love of tequila and cigarettes when your dad’s a cowboy. In one of those horse wrecks, the internal bleeding fused his bladder to his pelvis. Between that and the scar tissue, the doctor could not see or access the prostate. A problem during surgery for prostate cancer. What the hell?
Most of the time in surgery was the doctor separating the bladder from the pelvis, so he could get to the prostate.
That done, cancer removed and caught before moved to the lymph nodes. Received that news two hours from the ranch. Two hours of tears of gratitude on the prairie.
Intense on so many levels, this fall brought into sharp focus for me what matters in life:
Stick with those you love. Make them your priority.
Don’t wait for tomorrow or another year.