“Do not regret growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many.”    Anonymous

The irony is that apparently, I had a really good memory in college.  At least, that’s what my former roommate Denise says.  I don’t remember having a good memory.

So, when I called her Friday to wish her a happy birthday, I didn’t realize it until she answered:  “Dang!  I did it again!” I realized as she said hello.  “It’s NOT today!  It’s, its…tomorrow?”   I asked her.

“It’s Sunday, you silly girl!” she replied.  I always think it’s the 16th, but it’s the 18th.   Every year.  Has been since I met her in 1984.  That’s 34 years ago, 34 years to practice remembering that her birthday is March 18th, not March 16th.  But I keep forgetting.

She claims I used to have a stellar memory.  You could remember everything!”   I like to think she remembers accurately.  Her own memory, she tells me after the birthday greeting on the phone, suffers too.

“I have to write everything down,” she says.   People are so impressed with what appears to be my good memory now. ‘You have such a good memory,’ they say.  But I tell them it’s all here on these sticky notes.  That’s the only way I can remember.”

We lamented that, initially, the actual process of having children seems to drain a woman’s brain, then the day-to-day process through the years of having children continues the slow, but sure drain.  We both gave birth twice, both were the busy mothers, and now, as we both turn 52 just a month apart, we like to think we’ve got the upper hand again:  we simply realize the secret to a good memory–we have to write it down.

If only all other aspects of aging could be hacked so easily.

Denise was kind enough to dig up some old pictures of us from our college days, the days of youth and invincibility.  The days when our hair was still one color.  For me, the days of the gap teeth.  Age has many benefits.  It worked my teeth together.  This one was taken at a formal we both attended in 1986.


Because I have not yet figured out a shorter way, I take pictures from a text, copy them privately to Facebook, copy them to my desktop, then copy them over to my blog.

Interestingly, when I posted this to Facebook, even though it tried with the boxes around our faces, Facebook couldn’t identify us.  Apparently we have changed.

About 12 years ago, we ran into each other at a water park. We lived about 100 miles apart, and both of us decided to take our kids here to this park that was right between our homes.


It is fitting that I can’t remember where this next picture came from, but it was taken with Suzanne, and it was within the last several years.  It popped up in the series of pictures we had texted to each other on my phone.


When I was preparing to turn 40, I was whiny and full of dread.  Ugh.  40.  It was a dark, empty place that loomed straight ahead; no detour.

Then, I got the kick in the pants I needed:  I was called to see a 39 year-old woman  for speech therapy.  She had just had her 6th child, had a massive stroke and lost function on her dominant side.   She did regain some function, and was able to return home with her family.

Since I met her, I have never complained about my age again.  Every time I even consider it, I remember her, and I remember my good health.

Apparently, I needed yet another reminder that, as a healthy human being, I have absolutely zero room to complain about age.  Shortly after I turned 50 almost two years ago—and I don’t remember complaining about it, I was called to see a man just a few months younger than me with a diagnosis of ALS—Lou Gehrig’s disease.  He passed away shortly after his 50th birthday.   My heart still breaks for his family.


I never shy away from giving my age.  I am proud to be whatever age I am, which is currently 51.


One of my favorite coffee cups; a birthday gift from a dear friend. Life is good.

I have a friend who wasn’t entirely honest with me about her age when she first told me.  She claims she didn’t lie about it, I say she did.  She says she simply didn’t state the truth completely.  She didn’t give me a number, she said something vague like “I’m your age.”  She is almost exactly one year older.  I recently asked her why she did that; I can ask her honest questions and expect honest answers.  “Because I didn’t look my age,” she replied.  I have done what I can to convince her that age is truly a gift, and we should never hide it.

Another friend, whom I’ve known for over ten years, refuses to tell me—and likely many other people—exactly how old she is.  Even though her birthday is just two days after mine, and some years we actually have a birthday lunch together, I am not privy to this information.  I recently asked her why she refuses to state her age.

“Because everyone pays too much attention to a number.  We assign certain things to people based only upon their age, and that’s just not right,” she replied.

I cannot fully disagree.  I recall in my Introduction to Sociology class at age 18, the instructor—who has since become my favorite professor, teaching my favorite subject, pointed out this fact:  “Most of us, when we scan the obits, look for the age.  It tells us if it’s okay if they died.” For many years, I have scanned the obits in my daily paper first to see if any of my former patients are there—many times they are, and then I look at ages.  I must acknowledge that I consider that a factor in the level of attention I pay to their particular obit.

But what is that magic age when it becomes okay to pass away?  I know for me, it used to be a whole lot younger than what it is now.  As I age, that number keeps getting bigger.


Since this is the Sister’s Guide to Middle-aging, I went to Gail and Suzanne for their advice.

Suzanne, who is 47, may not have quite as many years of wisdom Gail and I have, but she has life experience beyond Gail’s and mine:  she is a cancer survivor.  When I asked her for her advice, she gave me two pieces, and they are golden:

“Never dread or regret another birthday.  Be glad you are still having them.”

“Don’t worry.  Worry steals your time.”

Words of wisdom from an expert.

She adds:  “Worrying is actually praying for what you don’t want.  So don’t do it!”

Thank you, Suzanne.

Now, to Gail, at age 58.  Given that she never has been a worrier, she gave advice that is more practical, and its importance became crystal-clear to her just this week:

“Slow down. Your body is slowing down, so slow down with it.”

Gail, the multi-tasking workhorse, took a spill on her back step last week.  She was carrying in eight bags of groceries, moving along at a fast clip.  She likely had somewhere she needed to be in order to get some work done, so she decided to do it all in one trip, and what a trip it was:  the eight bags spilled all over the floor as she was halfway in the house, but that’s not the worst of it:  she twisted her ankle like never before, hurt her leg and hip, and ended up in considerable pain, bruised, battered and in need of her boss’s care (the chiropractor).

She is bouncing back; she always does.  I asked her (in jest) if she thought ahead to take a picture of the mess on the kitchen floor for this week’s post, but she said she didn’t.  She was willing to stage one, but you get the idea…

Gail, in my estimation, may try to slow down, but will have greater difficulty doing so than, say, me. I move fast because I have overscheduled myself, and I hate it.  She, however, loves it.  Having a lot to do is her normal mode.


I do, however, use the slow down advice with my patients.  About half of the work I do as a speech therapist with the adult population is to address swallowing problems.   Many people are sent to me because they are coughing and choking more when they swallow for no apparent reason.  Often this problem is caused by a stroke, head injury, Parkinson’s disease or some other attributable cause, but often, it’s not.

I have “cured” many swallow problems first observing a patient eating and drinking, and diagnosing them with “you’re eating too fast.”  Most people, myself included, eat quicker than what we should.  We don’t take small bites, chew them thoroughly, savoring the taste and the texture before we swallow them.  We gulp, we wolf; scarf our food.  And most of us can get away with it.   Until we can’t.

As the body slows down with age, the swallow process slows down, too.  Simply increasing one’s awareness of this quick intake, then taking conscious steps to slow it down can be the difference between coughing and choking, and a quiet swallow.  Everyone knows what it means to clog the drain, and I use this analogy.  Our drains don’t drain as fast, and we must respect that slowdown.

It would behoove all of us to start taking this advice now, even if you are not having any problems.  Given that about 95% of us eat too fast, just slow down.  There’s your free advice from me, a licensed, certified and experienced swallow therapist.   I am confident I will cause no harm to any reader with this professional recommendation.

I try to follow Gail’s advice in all physical movements as well.  Seeing many people with physical therapy in my work settings because of falls has made me keenly aware that falls are far too common, and much too heart—and body—breaking.  Because I am a trivia nerd, I looked it up:  32,000 people die each year in the United States alone as a result of a fall.  If they had just paid attention and had been more careful.  If they had just slowed down.


Perhaps it was around the time of my 40th birthday when I started to notice.  I now look very closely at those people I meet who appear to be aging gracefully, effortlessly; smoothly.  I have met perhaps a thousand people as my patients who are older than me since then, and in our interactions, I am not afraid to ask those who stand out:  “What is your secret to aging well?” 

Most of them are flattered, and are not shy about answering.  There are many variations on two central themes:  1:  keep moving your body, and 2:  do the things you like to do.

As I write this on Saturday afternoon before Sunday evening’s post, I was inspired by the first answer to take a break and get up to walk the 2/10 of a mile to the mailbox and back.  And, since it was such a nice afternoon, I walked the loop around our neighbor’s driveway, and back to the mailbox again.   I try to keep that motivation close at all times.

A 90 year-young woman recently told me precisely those two answers.  She loves music, plays several instruments, and played in bands with her husband.  She still plays for him.  Music moves her.  It keeps her young.


Gail also gave advice not just on the physical part of aging, but in how we think, feel and react to life and all it hands us:

Life is too short to worry about things you cannot change.  The longer we are alive, the more loved ones we will lose.  Don’t let death rule your life.  Instead, live your life with them to the fullest.  There are so many other things in life we have zero control over.  Some diseases just happen.  I know this with my daughter.  Just do what you can to live with it.”

Good advice about the heavy stuff from Gail.  Now, on a lighter note from Gail:

“Don’t let other people control your thoughts.  That’s letting them live rent-free in your head.  And don’t subscribe to their issues.  Cancel your subscription if you have to.   Again, don’t be bothered by the things you cannot change.  Like the wind.”

Good stuff from Gail.

And from the three of us, we like to illustrate a very important point by our travels, and all our interactions:  Have fun.  Life is simply too short to deny yourself this.  Whatever fun looks like to you, simply have it.

In summary, we are leaving you with eight words:

Slow down.  Have fun.  Don’t worry.  Keep moving.


As soon as I finish writing this post, I am going straight to my all-purpose notebook and I am going to write down Denise’s birthday:  March 18THJust like she does, and just like I tell my patients who are working on memory, writing it down is the best way to remember.  I sent this to Gail and Suzanne several hours before posting, as I always do.  Suzanne, in her wisdom, came up with another way to remember Denise’s birthday:  I met her when I was 18.  Brilliant.  Thank you, Suzanne.

Happy Birthday Denise.  You make 52 look effortless, and I look forward to getting there.


Denise, circa 1986.  She and another roommate were in an 80’s air band, and she was getting ready for a gig.


Denise and her husband, present day.  Happy Birthday today,  March 18th.


Gail, Suzanne and I through the ages, mostly middle age.





2010:  Our first Colorado Labor Day trip.  Like age, these trips just keep getting better too.








**I believe in signs.  This one was from my favorite calendar, the day before we left.**



Speaking of signs, we finally did it.  After saying we should on every other trip, we finally stopped at the state line by the iconic sign for pictures.



The rest of the state line story comes with a price.  If yours is right, Gail and Suzanne will tell you the rest, but only if I get a healthy cut.  Remember, we are not telling all.


Waking up to this sight in Manitou Thursday morning, just as I said we would last week, can only bode well for the rest of the weekend.

And it did.  We lingered a bit in Manitou Springs on Thursday, taking in shopping and a tasty lunch—and a game of shuffleboard—before we began the ascent.


In our effort to satisfy Suzanne’s love of ferris wheels, we attempted to stop at The North Pole on the way up.

While I have laughed through the movie at least a dozen times, I have never before been able to empathize with the Griswolds in Vacation:  The North Pole was closed.




Closed Until May 1st.  The ferris wheel, noted to be the tallest in the world given it’s altitude, wasn’t even there; wasn’t visible from the road as it usually is.  We found out it had been taken down for refurbishing, refreshing and renewing.  It will be ready for us next time.



And so on westward we went.  John Denver did his part on CD, getting us into Cripple Creek.  Cripple Creek, where the gold-mining mother lode was struck years ago, and where The Sister Lode idea was conceived only one year ago.


 And the real fun began.

Our friends who own the Hospitality House were ready for us:


They look forward to our return trips, as do we.  We love them, and we love their place.  We savor the spirit of the place, as well as the space.


We do a lot of enjoying their space; simply sitting and sipping is one of the simple pleasures we enjoy.  Sometimes that’s all we need to fulfill our expectations.  Sometimes, it takes a little more.

This time, there was a full moon to greet us.  While pictures can never do it justice, the moon was in grand splendor along with the mountains it rose up above.


From a full moon to a Blue Moon–in honor of my favorite libation, there was this good omen in the street in Manitou on our way there.



Perhaps it is the Midwestern, hospitable farm girls in us.  Perhaps it is the fact that we are away from home and in a higher altitude; a higher place.  Maybe it’s just who we are.  Maybe it’s all the above, but we find ourselves saying “hi” a lot while we are on our trips.  Not that we don’t do it when we are home; it’s just that there are so many more people to meet in a place like this.  Chances are, we already know most of the people already in our circles at home.

We reach out, we strike up conversations with strangers, we somehow have other people do the same to us, and most of the time, we welcome it.  Most of the time.

If we hadn’t reached out, we wouldn’t have made friends with these fabulous hotel proprietors.


Given that they are now our friends, we asked for Rick’s advice on a predicament we found ourselves in, likely in part due to our outgoing natures, and in equal or greater part to a misinterpretation of our intentions.

Rick (in front) simply said: “stop saying ‘hi.’”  Sounds like a simple, obvious, easy answer, sure, but we can’t do that.  It’s not who we are.

If we’d stopped saying “hi,” we wouldn’t have met this dear, delightful young woman who became our favorite waitress at our favorite restaurant several years ago:


Kaitlin serves us beyond and above, and she is preparing to do the same for our country.  A few days after our visit, she will become a member of our armed forces, joining the Unites States Navy.  We thanked her for her wonderful service as our favorite waitress over the past few years, and we thanked her in advance for her future service to our country.  We wish her so much love and joy in her new venture.  She will likely be replaced in the restaurant, but she will never be replaced in our hearts.

Godspeed, Kaitlin.

And where would we be without Christine?  Less bejeweled, that’s where.  And that’s no fun.  Our favorite shopkeeper in Cripple Creek keeps us shopping and adorns us with the most beautiful baubles and gems.


Her shop, 9494, is cleverly named after the town’s altitude.  Given her charm, grace and allure, we feel even higher than that when we are in her store, and especially in her presence.


The native donkey herd that roams the streets freely in the spring and summer (as shown here on our Labor Day trip)


is taken to pasture for the fall and winter–with shelter.  Tourists who miss them in their off season—like us—are urged to visit them in their winter home just outside of town.  The shopkeepers supply the donkey treats, and we do the rest.



Perhaps the three of us—at times–have something in common with the asses…


Rhonda, however, doesn’t appear to let that affect her.  She became Gail’s neighbor at the Blackjack table on Friday, and came back on Saturday, too.  We hung out there too; Suzanne even tossed a few chips out next to Gail.


In an unprecedented joint decision between the three of us, Rhonda became our honorary sister for the weekend.  She was one of us, and we welcomed her into our circle.  Gail typically befriends the others risk-takers at the blackjack table, and by the end of the weekend, she has either renewed her friendship with, or created new ones with the dealers and pit bosses.  Only Gail has that skill, the ability to turn tough guys—and girls too–into butter.  We tried to take a picture of one of our favorite tough guys, but he assertively reminded us that pictures inside the casino were not legal.  Sorry JR, we snapped the one above accidentally on Friday before you told us that on Saturday.  Oops!

An honorable mention and a shout-out (pun intended) goes out to Dave and his wife Charlie, our other new friends at the blackjack table until Dave’s excessive decibel level created the false notion that perhaps he was breaking another casino law:  no gambling while intoxicated.  We know better, and JR was just doing his job.  Still, they are keepers in our memories.


Speaking of memories, March 4th was a memorable date; a bitter-turned-sweet-bitter date.  A date that will never be forgotten in our family.

My work keeps me closely acquainted with death as a fact of life.  Before my parents died, I would see this stark reality, and somehow push it aside, not letting myself actually believe I would likely lose each of my parents to illness.  I didn’t let myself go there in my mind; I somehow managed to avoid it, magically thinking “So far, I’m lucky.  Perhaps I won’t have to deal with that.”  The thought of losing either of them was too much to bear.  Seeing the illnesses that some of my patients succumbed to, I simply assumed that if they were to die, it would be due to illness.  Never in my wildest nightmares did I think I would lose them the way I did.

A part of me died with them—at least for awhile.  At the moment the news was delivered, I felt a death blow myself.  Crawling up out of that dark pit, first on my knees, then eventually pulling myself upright again, took more strength than I ever wanted to possess.

But I did possess it; we all did.  It was there.  And we keep growing stronger.  But that’s not to say I don’t still have my moments.  Like on the morning we left Cripple Creek, the morning of March 4th–the ten-year anniversary of their deaths.  We played John Denver on our way out of Cripple Creek that morning.  The morning of our departure is always blue, but this one was closer to black.  For me, for a brief moment, it was a Rocky Mountain Low—but just for a moment.  I don’t even think Gail and Suzanne knew I shed a few silent tears in the back seat.  Then, as quick as they came, they were gone, and I was okay.  I was tired and still blue, but, just as I have known for many years now, they are still with us.

I wouldn’t have believed anyone who said this if I hadn’t experienced it, but if you believe that love never dies, you get to carry the most precious part of them with you at all times in your heart, and that can never be taken away—not even by death.   I feel them within me; their spirits will live on through all of us, and all we need to do is look within.  They are always there—just as Mom told us she would be in The Letter.  And dare I say this:  sometimes it is even more whole, more powerful than when they were here on earth with us.


The darkness always turns to light, and the blues always give way to brighter colors and brighter days ahead.  Remembering the importance of something to look forward to, I came home Sunday night with ten minutes to change clothes and turn around to go to the beautiful art-deco theater in the downtown of our small city to take in this incredible performer:


Mom knew how much I always loved his music, and I know she had a hand in this.  Plus, the theater director has a long history of scheduling the most incredible shows on important dates for me like birthdays and anniversaries—thanks Jane.

The blues faded, and by Sunday night—even though Gail and Suzanne didn’t go to the show, we were all Back in the High Life Again—thanks Steve.


Soon, the skies will be mostly blue, with perhaps only a cloud or two.

29103692_2048586151822965_5939430490325909504_n[1]The green grass will soon return, and our smiles and laughter will be in full bloom again.  And, in our usual style, we will continue to March Forth.  










“Our lives are made by the deaths of others.”   Leonardo Da Vinci

This may very well be the shortest, but hardest post to write.  Yet it may carry the most meaning, at least for the three of us.

I write as I sit alone in our beautiful, spacious, Victorian-style room in Cripple Creek, Colorado on Saturday, March 3rd.  Gail and Suzanne are off doing their things, and I am doing mine.  We love our togetherness, but alone-ness is great, too.   We are relishing this time away in this beautiful mountain town.

I opened my laptop, and turned on the TV, searching for inspiration just to begin this post.  How do I find words on this day, this sacred day ten years ago when we last saw our parents alive at our grandmother’s funeral?  This day before March 4th, the day our  parents died?   What words of adequate weight can I possibly conjure?  Common sense told me to leave the TV off to let the thoughts gel into words, but I turned on a rerun of Criminal Minds, just for some noise.

As it began at 4:00, the first words spoken for this episode were “Our lives are made by the deaths of others.”  Sometimes the perfect words just show up at the perfect time from sources we would never expect.


Gail, Suzanne and I are having more fun and adventure than mere words can possibly confer, but my attempt to do just that will wait until next week.  Of course, it won’t be a tell-all; it never is.  A tell-some is what you will get, as usual.  There are some things we don’t share with everyone, and this, I feel, is the way it should be among sisters like us.

Sisters like us who loved our parents beyond words, and lost them beyond words too.  But this loss has made us who we are; it is the crucible that forged us into the women of strength we are.  When their deaths brought us to our knees in complete and searing heartbreak, it also planted within us seeds that would grow from barren devastation into amazingly strong, resilient and joyful living beings.

And so here we are.  Here we are every day, for the last 3,653 days. And every day builds on the next.  Every day we move forward, and every day we do what we can to find joy, to make even more joy for ourselves, for those in our lives, and hopefully on a grand scale, it will be shared and spread far and wide.   Every day we try to live our lives in honor of our parents, trying to further their legacies of love and peace.  Every day we March Forth.

Our lives are not perfect or painless, but they are full, rich and beautiful, just like theirs were.  Our lives—as we know them today—were made by the deaths of our parents.

Thank you for joining us on our weekly adventure.  Next week, I promise, I will share enough to give you a really good idea of just how much fun we are having this week—but I won’t tell all.

This week, I ask this of you:  whatever your hardships or heartbreaks are today, please know there are brighter days ahead.  With faith, love and a little elbow grease, things are going to be okay.  They might even be more than okay.  If you forge through the pain, do the work and have faith, you, too, will find yourself marching forth into a place of greater strength, hope and happiness.   We are living proof.


If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, so my child can have peace.”   Thomas Payne

The Criminal Minds episode ended as I finished this post, and it closed with this quote.    Sometimes the words really do come at the perfect times.

MARCH FORTH, my friends.  







We have been looking forward to this trip for a long time.  Six months, to be exact.  Six months have passed since our last trip there.

On Thursday morning of this week, we will wake to a magnificent view of Pikes Peak.


If you recall from Something To Look Forward To (January 7th), we return from our Labor Day trip to Colorado and begin the anticipation again.

Anticipation is at least half the fun.

The other half, as I alluded to in last week’s post, is somewhat of a secret.  We engage in all manner of fun, meet new people, make new friends and new memories, and, of course, we leave a mark—in a good way.  We know this because people remember us with a smile when we return.

All this fun, however, takes a little work.

Planning is the first stage.  Marking ourselves off the calendar at work is our first step.  Suzanne hasn’t been able to join us in Colorado for two years; her new job prevented time off.   We didn’t go to Colorado for Labor Day 2016 because we had just returned from Florida, as detailed in my very first post.

So this trip is long overdue for her, and right on time for Gail and me.   A single day longer, and we would implode with anticipation.

Planning our wardrobes and jewelry is a prolonged labor of love for Gail and me; Suzanne throws hers together at the last minute—in a very small bag.  Perhaps a bit larger than the Zip-lock bag she professes to be able to use, because we are going to a cold climate, and she may need a few extra layers than she would, say, on the beach. Several years ago, when I picked her up for the March trip, we were headed out of her driveway when I realized she got in my car without a heavy coat.  Good thing I asked; her minimalism kept her from remembering to pack a heavy coat.  We were, after all, going to the mountains in March, and she may need an extra layer…


Many people hear about all the fun we have, and see our Facebook posts, and apparently think they, too, could have a lot of fun with us.

They probably could, except, they can’t.  No one else can.  Our sisterhood is the exclusive admission to this highly anticipated, sacred, sisterly excursion.

No exceptions.

We will maintain our tradition of singing Rocky Mountain High on our final stretch.


Just in case the satellite radio gods don’t play it at the perfect time for us like they did last time, I have already packed my John Denver CD.

Gail will make her grand entrance into Cripple Creek:


We do publicize some of our activities; we give a little hint of the fun we have.  We don’t plan much of our weekend, we let the spirit move us.  We have even been known to let the horses move us:




And we move ourselves too.  Perhaps we will do a little nice-not-naughty North Pole dancing, maybe not.  We’re not telling.


No matter what it is, it is all good, clean fun.10435009_10202836301292505_5243879323619352101_n[1]

Gail will likely strike her Audra Barkley pose on the majestic staircase at the historic hotel we now call our Colorado home:


(The Big Valley was an integral part of our 70’s television lineup.)

We will renew our friendship with the proprietors of this magnificent and historic hotel:


The local, free-roaming donkeys will be appreciated and honored, as they should be.


Other wildlife is revered as well.


We may put ourselves in the local spotlight with our antics, both on-stage, and off:


We are there for each other to avert any possible disasters–after we get a picture:


And if something doesn’t look right with one of us, we will come to each other’s aid:  we found Gail like this one morning, and the mystery of how it happened remains.



The truth is, we don’t know yet what we will do.  When the occasion calls for a memory to be made, we will make it.  We do know that we will do whatever we can to further the memory and mission of our parent’s lives of peace and love.  It is up to us now to carry it forward, and on this ten-year anniversary, we are cranking it up a notch or two–or more.  Now more than ever, our world needs their message of peace.

We hit the mother lode–and the father lode, too with our parents.  This small Rocky Mountain town is still an active gold-mining town, with the mother lode struck here years ago.  The idea of The Sister Lode was born here; we know that what we have with each other is gold.


Memories made in times of great fun are golden, savored; sacred.

Memories made in times of great sadness can be dark, sometimes avoided, but always sacred.  Our memories of March 4th, 2008 are still very much with us.  It will be ten years since that fateful, faith-full day.

We have chosen to March Forth from that dark day when we lost our parents in a car accident.  We marched forth back into the light, after our private and shared struggles to find joy and hope again.  It is now sweet-bitter to relish the memories of our parents, not bittersweet any longer.  The bitter still stings, sometimes as sharp as a knife through the heart, but only now for a quick moment, then the pain subsides as quickly as it ambushed us.

These moments are more few and far between, and will, with continued faith and grace, continue to space themselves out in the future.  We will continue to gain strength from our faith, our family and the friendship we have forged as sisters.

We have chosen to celebrate our sisterhood with our travels, and these trips have become an integral part of our yearly calendar.  We carve out the time, save the money and prioritize it just as we would regular and possibly life-saving medical checkups and/or treatment, because for us, it is.  It is survival and sustenance in our lives that now have a heightened sense of what is most important—those we love.

And I do love my sisters.  I’m pretty sure they love me, too.



My wish for you is that you take the time to celebrate those in your family and/or circle of friends whom you love the most.

Take them on a trip, or take them to lunch, or anywhere in between.  Find a good starting place, and take off from there.

Tell them you love them, and if you need to, tell them you are sorry.  Forgive, if necessary.

Tell them you are glad they are a part of your life.

Tell them if they were gone tomorrow, your life would be richer for having had them in it.

And every day, treat them like they could be gone tomorrow, because sometimes, they are.













“When I first met Gail, I was impressed by her friendliness, her outgoing nature, and how she always was so funny, kind and generous.”  –Mark, my husband.

“Gail is always so friendly, and she always takes care of everyone.”  –Joel, my son.

“I love Gail.  She is so much fun.” –Skip, my neighbor.

The reviews are in, and they are all five stars.  Gail is all these things, and so much more.



Gail will celebrate her 58th birthday on Wednesday, February 21st.  She doesn’t care that I divulged her age.  She is proud of it; we all know age is a gift.  She is planning a giant 60th birthday party already.   Gail, Suzanne and I will leave for our annual trip west a week after that.  We will celebrate in high style there—high in the Rocky Mountains.  We probably won’t tell you many details about how we celebrated, though.  Those are privileged secrets.

Gail is six years older than me, and ten years older than Suzanne.  She is the Big Sister Extraordinaire, the acting matriarch of our family now.  She had big shoes to fill, and she is filling them like no one else could.  She stepped into them in her usual grace, striding into her new role that she didn’t want, didn’t sign up for, but was heaped upon her.


Whoo has the best big sister in the world?  Suzanne and I do!

Gail has always accepted whatever is laid at her feet.  No matter how small or how great, she tackles any challenge with an “I got this” attitude, long before “I got this” became a frequently used catchphrase by women of lesser strength—like me.

So, because she is my sister, and because there are stories to tell, I am going to share a few.  I have already shared my earliest memories of her working non-stop.  If, like most children, my earliest memories are recalled from around age four, Gail would have been ten.  She was already a small-scale Swiss Army Knife, helping Mom with all those tasks that must be performed for a large family:  child care, cooking, cleaning, laundry and on and on.  Mom used to tell the story of Gail waking up from a nap, still drowsy with eyes half-shut and walking by Mom changing the latest baby—it could have been me or my next older brother, or maybe even Suzanne—and she picked up the dirty cloth diaper as if on cue, taking it to the diaper pail while still waking up.  She didn’t need to be told; she knew.

It only intensified from there.  She picked up her pace and productivity, knocking out all that needed to be done without question or complaint.

She continues to knock it all out, and usually knocks it out of the park.  Gail does nothing halfway.  If a job is to be done, it is to be done right.

When she managed the Pizza Hut in Osborne, Suzanne worked for her for a time.  Suzanne confirmed that she did indeed run a tight ship.  She posted a sign that read:  IF YOU HAVE TIME TO LEAN, YOU HAVE TIME TO CLEAN.

Gail works hard, spins those plates I spoke of earlier.  If one plate is done spinning, she throws another up in its place.  She runs on more horsepower and cylinders than any of us dream of possessing.

Every time I hear the term “elbow grease,” I think of Gail.  As a young child who was learning that our language is filled with non-literal terms that don’t really mean what they say, I recall exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard that term, and of course, who said it:  Gail.

I was standing beside, or perhaps behind her as she washed dishes at the kitchen sink—an automatic dishwasher was unheard of; our parents had seven human ones.  She said something about scrubbing a dirty pan with elbow grease.  I remember looking at her elbow to see if there was any grease on it, or coming out of it.  I asked her if there was, and she said, yes, it did indeed have grease inside it, and that is what she was using to get the dishes clean.

I have never forgotten that, and I think of it every time I hear “elbow grease.”  So, as I was trolling eBay for her birthday gifts, I came upon this Rosie gift:



Even though this effectively spoils the surprise for this small part of her gift bag of goodies, I had to include the picture of the small bar of soap in her bag.


Mom and Dad had studio pictures taken of each of us around one year of age, and they hung on their living room wall.  As a child, Gail said she thought the reason her hair stood up on top is because she was sitting up on a stool.


Gail does show kindness and empathy, but ultimately, she helps you get through whatever brings you down with a get over it/toughlove approach, even from a very young age as demonstrated here with me:



If I stopped here, and you didn’t know Gail, you would think she was all business.  As we all know, all work and no play makes Rosie, Gail, or any other woman a dull girl, so I must tell you also how much fun she carries with her, and brings to anyone in her midst.

My earliest memories of Gail having fun are not necessarily good ones, at least not for her anyway.  I recall waking up at 2 a.m. early one Monday morning to the sound of Dad’s stern voice—it was only stern in such circumstances—when Gail arrived home from a Sunday “afternoon” at the lake with her friends at this hour.

She was grounded for I don’t know how long, and then Suzanne reminded me that as soon as she was released from house arrest, she committed a similar crime, and she was grounded again.

Not that it matters, but just for the record, Suzanne and I were never grounded.

From these earlier episodes of misbehavior grew a matured and more responsible sense of fun within Gail.  I wasn’t part of the train trip from Denver to Las Vegas that Gail and Suzanne went on with a handful of other thrill seekers, but I wish I had been.  I don’t know where I was or what kept me from this excursion, but if I had been able, I am sure I would have signed up too.

Apparently, the train staff didn’t anticipate that many thrill-seekers on one trip, so extreme measures were necessary:  On one stop, one male patron—I would call him a gentleman, but apparently he was not—had to be removed from the train for disorderly behavior.  While he was not initially part of Gail and Suzanne’s group, he apparently knew how to have fun, and was indeed having fun with their group.  Unlike Gail though, he apparently did not learn how to have mature and responsible fun.



When Gail’s second daughter got married in Hawaii about seven years ago, Gail realized a long-held dream:  she zip-lined.  I, being less adventuresome, will likely never do this.  Nor will I bungee jump, like she has also done.  She is fearless, compared to me.


When my husband and I were dating, he had a four month long out-of-town project in Osborne when Gail lived there.  His evenings were destined to be monotonous and boring as he stared at four motel room walls—until Gail reached out.  She invited him to join her bowling league, invited him to dinner at her home and always treated him like family.

One of his unique tastes is for anchovies on his pizza.  While not a topping she had listed on her menu, and not typically kept in stock (and not eaten by typical people), she made an exception for him.  She always had anchovies available for him when he wanted them on his pizza.


Now, it’s time to get down to business.


IT happened again.  I can’t put a name on IT, because it is so unspeakable.  We all know what IT is.

How can this happen again?  When is this going to stop?  How can one person have so much evil inside them?  What can we do?

The easy answer is to think that since it happened far away from us, happened to people we likely didn’t know, is to say our prayers for the victims and go on our way.  That’s what most of us have been doing all along—myself included.  It’s a good start, but we must do more.

The hard answer is to take a look at ourselves.  Find any small or large seeds of discontent in ourselves and find a way to turn them around.  We all want peace in our families, our communities our country; our world.  But we have to have it in ourselves first.  We can’t give away something we don’t have.

But I’m just one person, my actions don’t really matter,” you may think.  I often think this too.

But they do.  They create ripples, good or bad. And those ripples are far-reaching; we have no idea how far they can spread.

Consistently, it has been found that the people who perpetrate these heinous crimes have been ostracized from their peers; they have been set apart in a negative way.

The innate need to belong to the human group cannot be denied, no matter how much we may want to–myself included.  I find myself wanting to hole up alone more as I age.  But I need people.  Just like everyone else.  Without that connection, we wither as humans, we cannot become the people we were meant to be.

So, back to what can I do?  I can reach out, and you can too.  We can do something as simple as smile at a stranger, or something as complex as forgive an enemy, even if they think they did nothing wrong.  Forgive them in your heart, bless them, and let it go.  Roll your eyes if you have to; that’s how I get through it sometimes.  Forgiveness is really about freeing ourselves, not the other guy.  Letting go frees up a lot of space in our hearts and souls to be filled with good things like peace and positivity.  Try to see the conflict from their perspective.  Remember, often times, there ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy, there’s only you and me, and we just disagree.

I can’t take any more of this, and I hope you can’t either.  I am searching for ways to crank it up at least  a notch; to find a means to share more peace and positivity. It is in me, and I need to get it out.

It’s in you, too.  I hope you find your unique ways to get it out there, because we all need it now more than ever.  We all need to share our gifts of peace, whatever they are.

Start within.  Find those seeds of discontent, and weed them out before they grow any bigger.  Forgive, and if you can’t forget, then bless them and send them good vibes.  Smile more.  Say thank you.  Tell someone you not only love them, but you like them too.  Say your prayers, whatever they are.

Speaking of prayers, I must use this platform to spread one of the most timeless ones, one that, if we all simply followed it, we may never have to say not again again.

I have written about The Letter our mother left, and I will likely write about it again.  She asked us to live our lives by the prayer of Saint Francis, commonly known as The Peace Prayer.

Along with The Letter, she left seven prayer cards, one for each of her children.  Per her written instructions, they were handed to each of us by the priest at their funeral in front of 500-plus people.

Given that, and in light of this week’s tragedy, I’m having a little trouble feeling that I don’t need to do a little more than I am already doing.   I want to say that I was trying my best, but I can do more.  I have put it just below my bathroom mirror, so that it stares at me every day until I say that prayer at least once daily.  And then I must do something about it.



This is heavy stuff, especially after Gail’s birthday tribute.  However, Gail has a birthday gift request for you:  She has a Facebook group called Mom’s Message–Instrument of Peace (click on about tab) that she started many years ago. ( If you had previously joined, somehow, Facebook zeroed out the membership, so please re-join.)  Go to it, and consider joining to further Mom’s message of peace, if you haven’t already.   Then, figure out what you can do.  Figure out what gifts of peace you can offer those in your life.  Also, if you are on board, and you are reading this through Facebook, consider reposting this blog on your page.

And, in honor of Gail, never forget this:


Happy Birthday Gail.  Here’s a toast to peace.


It’s time we put some elbow grease on this problem.  And don’t forget the ripple effect–what you and I do matters, so let’s do something good.








It happens roughly 360,000 times daily on our planet, and about 11,000 times every day in our country.  Our mother experienced it seven times, and so did the three of us—collectively.

We all brought life into the world.


Suzanne’s daughter Julia celebrated her 22nd birthday on February 1st, and it brought back sweet memories of the day she was born for me; sweet-bitter memories for Suzanne:  sweet with the final product, bitter with the struggle it took to get her here.  It made me reflect on my experiences as well.

Like my two reproductions, Julia was born in my small city.  Suzanne was living in her former town, near Mom and Dad.  She developed pre-eclampsia, which translates into potentially dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy.  She couldn’t safely await her delivery in the small hospital in their town, so she came here.  She was admitted for close monitoring, and fared quite well—initially.  So good, that her attending doctor allowed her to come home with me, as she would be just a mile away from the hospital.  As long as she came in daily to have her blood pressure checked, and it was okay, she could await her Big Day in the comfort of my small duplex with me and my husband.

That lasted one day.

Her blood pressure went back up, and she went back in to the hospital.  My babies were not yet born, so I had time spend with her.  I recall many evenings sitting with her at the hospital, and an occasional wheelchair ride around the place for a change of scenery for her.

Two weeks later, her big day arrived.  But then, Big Day turned into Big Night, and Big Day again.  After 40 hours of labor, the doctor decided it was time to take matters into their own hands, and perform a C-section.

Mom and I had camped there with her for most of those last two days; I went to work during the day and came back, and Mom stayed.  Mom was always the faithful Mom.  Suzanne will recall—still with disbelief and disgust—that I asked her to make sure she waited to deliver until I returned from a meeting I had to go to.  Was that too much to ask after thirty-plus hours of labor?  I didn’t think so.  Apparently, she did.  She still does.  Now that I have been in labor for longer than I cared to be times two, I realize it was a bit selfish of me to make such a request.

No matter, she waited anyway.

Perhaps it was the impending C-section that she so desperately didn’t want, or the baby that decided it was finally time to make her grand entrance, but surgical delivery wasn’t necessary in the end.

Julia Michelle arrived just before 6 a.m. on February 1st, 1996.



She grew into a particularly beautiful little red-haired girl,


And an even more beautiful red-haired young woman.


Much to her surprise, her college roommates threw her a party on her birthday this year, complete with her cousins in attendance, even one who made the hour-long trip from another nearby state university.  She had no idea, she said.


Twenty two years.    Where does the time go?  As if any of us have the answer to that question.

Gail has been a mother to her children for 34, 31, 19 and 17 years, respectively.

I have been a mother to my offspring for 20 and 17 years.

That’s 160 years of motherhood between the three of us, which still doesn’t hold a candle to Mom’s 293 years of motherhood.


I have many friends who adopted their children.  I heard a story from a friend this week about the adoption of her children:  A young couple who struggled in many ways knew they could not give their two young daughters—ages one and two–the life they deserved.  Addiction and poverty ruled their lives, and they made the loving choice to find a better home for them.  I was so touched by the birth parents wisdom, and the adoptive parents’ acceptance of this gift.

I remember holding my firstborn son.  I looked at him, and thought: “I couldn’t love you any more or any less if you fell out of the sky into my arms.”  No matter how he arrived, he was my son, and any degree of love I had ever experienced for another human had just expanded exponentially.

I read this fitting adoption analogy:  Let’s say you had two back-to-back trips planned—one to Paris, then one to Hawaii.  If the Paris trip was changed to Switzerland, it would take nothing away from the Hawaii trip.

No matter which trip you take, they all end up at the same destination:  parenthood.


Gail delivered her first child on the last day of August 1983.  I remember the day.  She delivered at the same hospital the three of us were born at, and by the same doctor who delivered us, and he delivered her dad as well:


Her second daughter was born in a slightly larger nearby hospital with her new doctor, almost three years later.



They lived in Osborne until Gail remarried and moved west.  Her next two were born fifteen and thirteen years later in the same town where Gail went to college.







Like everything else in life that requires a struggle, Gail took childbirth in stride.  I’m pretty sure she was back at work later in the day after each of her children were born.

Painkillers?  Who needs them during childbirth?  Certainly not Gail.  She scoffed at the idea of medication to ease this pain, the pain that was a woman’s privilege.  Having no medication to slow her down, her deliveries were quick.  Again, she had work that needed to be done, and she didn’t have time to labor very long.

Suzanne, in her prolonged and interminable labor, signed up for the maximum doses of anesthetic as soon as she could.  Good girl.  Little did she know how much and how long she would need it.


When left to their instincts, many animals in the wild will sneak away in the cover of  night to give birth, which is exactly what I did both times.  The first time, it started just before midnight, and the second time it began just after midnight.  Both times, it lasted about seven hours.

Being the semi-natural birth mother I aspired to be with my first birth, I decided ahead of time I could make it without an epidural.  I did make it, but I did have milder drugs to take the edge off.  In the throes of it all, I fully realized I had no idea what I signed up for, wondering just how leisurely it might have been had I signed up for the epidural.

Just over three years later, I was back in the delivery room.  This time, I had personal and practical reasons for not getting an epidural:  I made it through before, and our lovely new insurance policy through my husband’s employer wouldn’t pay for it.  They would cover any complications during birth, but not a normal birth.  Go figure.

So I did figure.  I figured out what I needed from the hospital to experience a safe, econo-birth, and what I wouldn’t need.  I was employed there at the time, so I took a little trip to the labor and delivery floor, and put in my order ahead of time.  An epidural would cost over $800 out of pocket, so I didn’t check that box.

Then, in the throes of the prolonged final stage, I remembered that, just over three years ago, I swore I was NEVER going to do this again and why. I kind of forgot that I made that promise to myself.  That memory came roaring back crystal-clear at that moment, but alas, it was a little too late.

Recalling that the epidural would cost over $800 helped me get through.  I traded  delayed pain in our bank account for the immediate pain, and I made it—again.

In the end, it was all worth it—again.


My first reproduction at two months,


and his little brother’s arrival.


My swheat firstborn with my dad in the combine at harvest.


And my second.  Whenever I need a laugh or a pick-me-up, this picture does it for me.



My boys have grown up.






When I am visiting with a woman who is preparing for childbirth for the first time, I smile to her, and smile even bigger inside.  I know the journey she is embarking upon, and it will be unlike anything she has ever experienced.  It will be likely be exponentially more painful than anything she could imagine, and it will likely be more incredible and beautiful than anything she could image.

Knowing there are no words to describe it, I smile warmly, wink at her, and tell her, “It’s a walk in the park.”


I didn’t give birth to him, and he didn’t fall out of the sky into my arms, but my stepson Matt has been a gift from Above for me.  I married his dad when he was eight years old, and he has always been a part of our family.

He is holding our firstborn,


going through the rite of passage into adulthood,


and now with his own reproductions.


They live in Wichita now, not even 100 miles away–closer than ever before.  We are thrilled.


My siblings and I grew up with one cousin.  He lived in Wichita with my mother’s older sister and her husband.  He, too, like my aunt and his dad, was blind.  My mother’s two younger sisters were considerably younger, and didn’t have children until we were adults ourselves.

I remember being jealous of my childhood friends who would talk about the fun they had with their cousins.  We didn’t have cousins that we got to hang out with on a regular basis.  I never forgot the feeling that we missed out on something great; this cousin thing.

I am so thankful that my children have cousins their ages they got to grow up with, and hang out with.  We always took whatever opportunities we had to get together as adult siblings, which meant our children got to hang out with their cousins too.  Gail and Suzanne sent me pictures of our children together, and I found a few myself.

There were many others with our brothers’ children as well, but it was hard enough to narrow the field down to a few with these:












We are the women we are, as well as the sisters we are to each other–in part –because of our children.  They have taken us on a journey; a trip to a place far more beautiful than Hawaii.  We had one of the best examples of motherhood to follow with our mother, and for that, we are forever grateful.



Mom taught me all I know about motherhood.   She made it look so easy.


Thank you, Mom. After childbirth, it is mostly a walk in the park. 


Mom with Julia, the birthday girl.










Actress Mary Tyler Moore.  Olympic swimmer Gary Hall, Jr.  Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.  Author Anne Rice.  Baseball great Jackie Robinson.  Pop singer Nick Jonas.  Actress Halle Berry.  Rocker Bret Michaels.  Gail’s daughter Lydia. 

The answer is:  They all have/had Type One diabetes.


I am guilty too.  I worked in the medical field for twenty-plus years, and I didn’t know the difference.  That is, until I had a patient who had Type One.

I knew there was Type One and Type Two, but I really didn’t know the difference; didn’t pay attention.  It wasn’t important to me.

I learned a lot from “Thomas.”  I learned it can be a matter of life or death.  I learned that even small amounts of things like ketchup must be counted into one’s daily carbohydrate count.  I learned it is not an easy road to be on, and it is a lifetime road.

Most importantly, I learned that unlike most Type Two cases, it could not have been prevented through diet and lifestyle choices.  His body simply turned on him.

I felt for Thomas, I still do.  I wonder from time-to-time how he is doing; he had had a stroke in his mid-fifties, and was forced to leave the job he loved.  I still wish him the best on this doubly hard road he is on.

On October 16th of last year, Gail’s 17 year-old daughter Lydia was handed this diagnosis.  I quickly recalled the difference between Type One and Type Two.  She quickly learned it.

And I am paying even closer attention to the difference now.  It is even more important to me now.


Lydia hadn’t been feeling well for some time.  She complained of feeling vaguely ill, tired and lethargic.  Also, her appetite increased so she ate more, but at the same time she was losing weight.   She then began to suddenly experience extreme thirst, and frequent urination.  Then, her eyesight began to suffer.  Her local physician diagnosed it, and immediately sent her to a pediatric endocrinologist in Denver, some 3 ½ hours from their home in western Kansas.  His medical expertise and dedication to her health began the quick, but lifelong change in Lydia’s lifestyle habits of food and liquid intake.  Gail has taken her back three times since then, and is scheduled to return every three months.

Depending upon her daily carbohydrate intake, her daily routine now consists of finger pricks at least four times daily, and up to four injections of insulin into either her leg, arm, or stomach.  She, and every other person with Type One diabetes, aims for a blood sugar level of 100, with a range of around 70 to 150 considered acceptable.


This will be done every day for the rest of her life.   The future may hold a pump for her, which is what some people with Type One diabetes use instead of regular injections.


Because I didn’t know a lot about diabetes, I may have been one of those who tried to offer people well-meant encouragement toward a brighter future, one that may include “recovery” from this disease by watching their diet; changing their lifestyle.  Because I didn’t understand the difference.

Which is why some people have tried to offer the same advice to Lydia.

On one of her first visits, Lydia’s endocrinologist offered her two pages of inspiration, two pages that opened my eyes to the realities, the misconceptions and the management of Type One diabetes.  Following are excerpts from those two pages.  No author was named.

“No one ‘causes’ Type One diabetes to occur.  It’s usually an autoimmune process that might have been slowly going on for years within the pancreas.  The pancreas cannot produce a sufficient amount of insulin to meet the patient’s metabolic needs.  Then, and only then, will blood sugar levels rise outside the normal range.  And it’s only then when the classic signs and symptoms of diabetes happen:  increased thirst, increased urination and maybe weight loss…The patient is not ‘broken’ by this condition.  They can and should do all the things they did before, and strive to fulfill whatever plans they had already set for themselves.  Diabetes should not be an obstacle to this, unless it is placed there by the patient, family or a health care provider.  Since the child is not broken, there is no reason to have pity.  While the diagnosis is unfortunate, it is not to be used to diminish the person.  It is a medical prejudice we just don’t need.  You will find plenty of pity served up your way for the less informed.  Let it roll off your back.  Don’t let any of it in.  It can be a poison…And in dealing with the less informed, I advise new patients to beware all the free advice and counsel from others.  Some of it may be helpful, at the outset it’s best to verify any diabetes statements you hear or read with your diabetes educator…just remember the average diabetes IQ of most Americans is quite poor…never use the words ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the same sentence with a blood sugar value.  Blood sugar levels are not measures of morality.  They are simply measures of the amount of glucose dissolved in a small sample of capillary blood from the fingertip at a given instant in time…The path to living well with diabetes is full of detours, potholes, narrow roads, false idols and at times open highways with no speed limits whatsoever.  It’s just life.  Don’t give it any more dominance over you than it deserves.  Respect it, then master it.  Make it work for you.  Stay one step ahead of it as much as you can.  It is then you will have learned the secret to living well with diabetes.


Insulin:  a hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood.   Glucose is transported through the bloodstream and used to provide energy for every function of your body.  Glucose is to your body what gasoline is to your car. 


Lydia didn’t create this problem through poor lifestyle choices.  Her body’s immune system mistook the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas as invaders, and wiped them out.  Now, she must replace these cells daily through doses of insulin self-administered with shots.   The amounts are determined by her blood sugar levels she reads after she pricks her finger multiple times a day.  It is important to remember that Lydia, like many Type One diabetics, doesn’t feel as well overall as she once did.  Mornings are especially difficult for her, because the overnight hours can throw her blood sugar off-balance, and she simply doesn’t feel well.

Imagine having to pump your own heart, or to have to tell yourself to breathe in and out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365…forever.    Some people with Type One diabetes have likened it to that.  When your pancreas doesn’t secrete insulin, your body cannot control blood sugar levels, and your body cannot live forever like that…

Type One diabetes is known as an autoimmune disease, whereby the immune system of the body doesn’t recognize its own good cells, and attacks them as invaders.  Other autoimmune diseases include lupus, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as a long list of others.



Let’s cover some ugly, but necessary facts about Type One diabetes:  All information is taken from WebMD and/or

*It was formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes, because its onset is typically in childhood.

*Symptoms usually start in childhood or young adulthood; the average age of onset at 14.

*Type One accounts for 5-10% of all diabetes diagnoses in the United States.

*1.25 million Americans are living with Type One Diabetes, including 200,000 people under the age of 20, and more than one million adults over age 20. 

*By 2050, 5 million people in the United States are expected to have Type One Diabetes, with 600,000 cases in people under age 20.

*Between 2001 and 2009, there was a 21% increase in the prevalence (existing cases) in people under age 20.3 years of age. 

*Research is ongoing, but there currently is no cure.  It cannot be prevented.


In contrast, Type Two diabetes can typically be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including eating sensibly, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.  There may be no symptoms before diagnosis.  It is typically discovered in adulthood, but increasing numbers of children are being diagnosed with Type Two diabetes.  Insulin is typically produced, but it is either not enough, or the body doesn’t recognize it and use it properly.


In her usual take-charge style, Gail stared down this diagnosis along with her daughter, sending it their message:  “You’re not the boss of me.”

And it’s not.

Lydia has continued down this new road, the road she didn’t want to take, the road she will take for the rest of her life.  But she is doing it with grace and style, even when her blood sugar isn’t quite on the mark, and she doesn’t feel great.   In her last visit to her endocrinologist, her reports were stellar, which means she is figuring out how this thing works.

Her mother’s sense of humor is a boost to any one struggling through any tough times, but having Gail for a mother during these challenges is truly a gift.  Gail has also had to be her cheerleader on the tougher days, as well as her coach.  She makes her get out there and play the game of life, even when she doesn’t feel up to it because of the diabetes.

People have asked Gail how Lydia is handling her new diagnosis.  Often, she replies that Lydia is handling it better than she is, because it is so hard to see your child not be as healthy as they once were, and as a mother, you always want to fix things for your child.

Gail purchased this shirt for her daughter:


We know the value of laughter during tough times.

Suzanne, with her trademark sense of humor—as well as her now-absent thyroid, also faces a lifetime of treatment.

“It’s okay,” she told Lydia. “Only the REALLY cool girls get to see endocrinologists.”


Every day I work with illness, injuries and diseases as a speech therapist.  In one second, someone’s life can change forever with a stroke or a head injury.

Unbeknownst to her, Lydia’s life was slowly changing long before she knew it.  Her pancreas was slowly shutting down its production of insulin before diabetes made itself known.  In that one second the diagnosis was delivered, her life changed.

When I see people in the aftermath of perhaps their one tragic second, or as they try to navigate their way through a new life they didn’t sign up for–the new road they must take, there is one element of progress and peace-making with this new life that I realize more and more as I practice is crucial:  optimism.

I don’t see gains made when the patient has given up and given in, resigning to their new diagnosis and letting it rule their lives.

Real progress simply doesn’t happen with negativity.  A positive attitude is non-negotiable for leading a fulfilling life when that life doesn’t look like it once did.

With her mom’s and her dad’s help—as well as the rest of her family, and all of us too, Lydia will continue to lead the fulfilling life she always has.

Type One diabetes didn’t keep any of the incredible people in the list at the beginning of this post from following their dreams and achieving great things.

Nor will it stop Lydia.




As a new student in the diabetes classroom, I am learning.  In the interest of keeping this blog short, there was much more information that could have been included, but wasn’t.  I wanted to provide information to allow others who may have not known the distinctions between Type One and Type Two diabetes, just like I didn’t not long ago.  I wanted to share the inspiration that Lydia and Gail are demonstrating for anyone else who struggles.

Unfortunately, I know that at least a few readers will find this information all too familiar, because they, or a loved one struggles with Type One diabetes already.  You all have been experts at this for a long time, and I have only finished Diabetes 101.  If I have misrepresented any information, please let me know.


This post is dedicated to Lydia, and anyone else who struggle with Type One diabetes as a  child or  an adult.