The book, THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron, a birthday gift from my step-mom a year after she married my dad, sat on my book shelf for nearly a year before I opened it. I knew why it took me a year to read the book-I didn’t want to get to know my step-mom. I was still grieving my mother’s unexpected death in 1992. Although R was nice enough, and she and my dad were happy in their new home in South Florida, I wasn’t ready to form a relationship with the lifelong Floridian who I felt sure would keep my dad in Florida. That was my grief speaking. No one could replace my mother in my mind, and after a few years, I realized R wasn’t trying to take her place, and they weren’t moving back to Northern Virginia, either. Then, the Army sent my husband to Belgium, and we moved abroad.
I saw my dad and step-mom during our family home leaves to the US, and we grew closer. In 2006, I moved back to Northern Virginia with my children after 13 years abroad, and knew their decision to remain in Florida would mean fewer family visits, and hardships all around if one or both of them became ill. I was now a single, working mother on a limited budget, I couldn’t fly down at the drop of a hat, and neither could my sister, also a single mom. Despite the distance between us, we finally managed to become a family.
My step-mom has taken wonderful care of my father over the years as he battled colon cancer, and she dealt with her own cancer scare. She remains a courageous, loving, and committed caregiver as they both deal with my father’s advanced Alzheimer’s. Just this week, doctors discovered a cancerous tumor growing in my father’s skull, so my step-mom and 84-year old father are looking at a tough end of the year. His surgery will be extremely delicate because of his advanced age, and the location of the tumor. I’ve been told putting my dad under anesthesia could speed up his dementia or cause a stroke, so I’m headed to South Florida with my youngest sister in early October to care for our father, and give R a much-needed break.
I had all intentions of writing today’s blog post about THE ARTIST’S WAY, a book that changed my life and helped birth my writing career. I wanted to tell you how I read a chapter a month for a year, and discovered the world of words and journaling. I wanted to share how passionate I am about this book (actually, all of Julia Cameron’s books), the impetus for inviting six friends to ‘do’ the workbook with me the following year, and many years after that. Julia Cameron is one of the reasons I wrote A DECENT WOMAN, and why I write full time today…
but after writing the seventh word in this blog post, I knew I was going a different route, taking a healing detour I needed. I realize what’s on my mind and heavy heart today are my dad and my step-mom, not The Artist’s Way, not Julia Cameron.
I’m thankful to have you in my life, R. I love you both. XO