Because most of the women in our golf club only play on dry days, Oregon golf season can reasonably be considered to last from July 5-September 25. And so it came to pass that for one entire season during the ’80’s Carla, as the 9-Hole Captain and I, as Eclectic Chair, giggled our way through recording golf scores for members and grew to become rock solid
Years later while recovering from head and neck cancer radiation treatment I was left unable to speak above a whisper for some months. Carla realized I needed a little extra motivation to get through the final days of a treatment that had already swollen my throat to an opening no larger than a dried pea.
Knowing my favorite color was purple, in the last week of treatment Carla gave me a Get Well Basket filled with several purple gifts with instructions that I was to open one gift on each of the remaining days of radiation.
Carla had actually put more gifts in the basket than days left of treatment but I had been keeping the smallest gift among them to open on the final day of treatment.
As a child my mother had always told me “the best things come in small packages” and the wisdom of her words rang true again because it was the smallest gift among all Carla had given that proved the most empowering and especially important for one who could barely make herself heard to people sitting in the same room with her.
Wrapped in purple tissue was a silver bell with a note attached that read, “Ring this bell as often and loud as possible to summon your husband whenever you need something.” Could a gift be more perfect!
I confess that I made good use of this empowerment tool; so good in fact that after about a month or two my husband wanted to bury it in the gardens! I rescued the oft referred to by husband and son “bell from hell” and tucked it away believing it may come into good use some day.
I am eighteen years out from radiation treatment and the other day while cleaning drawers I came across the silver bell. I decided to ring the power bell vigorously just to see what might occur and then burst out laughing when once again my husband and son came rushing into my office with a look of absolute horror that I had managed to resurrect that small tool of great power they had grown to despise! After I reassured them all was well, I placed the bell on my office desk.
Today I found myself thinking about Carla and a time when I felt most vulnerable in my life and how her gift of empowerment helped me build back my courage one ring at a time.
One other great gift of learning I gleaned from having cancer is that I believe there are many who deserve acknowledgement for facing challenging times and the reason I give purple hearts for get well gifts.
PS: Just so you know, after writing this post, I called to tell Carla once again how much I appreciate her insight, support and treasure our friendship. She’s sailing in the San Juan Islands!