Shirley Melis writes about dancing through grief

I feel so grateful that I got the chance to interview Shirley Melis as she participates in her WOW! Women on Writing blog tour. As I'm no stranger to grief I was interested in how she deals with it and writes about it. Ultimately for both of us, we've learned to survive. Thank you, Shirley, for being here at Choices today. About Banged-Up Heart:  is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again. When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend’s husband, she asks him to marry her! What foll … [Read more...]

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Remembering Mom and Dad

This Mother's Day weekend I remember both my mother and my dad. My dad was born on May 7, 1903 in Poland (the first location in my historical fiction work). He died at age 72 from cancer of the bile duct system. My mother, born on February 12, 2008 in Lithuania, died at age 94 from old age.  Lucky for me, they met and married in Chicago Illinois, making me and my brother and sister first generation Americans. Here are a few photos of them.     … [Read more...]

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Read about David Kalish and his debut novel right here

WOW Women on Writing has done it again. They have introduced David Kalish and his first novel, The Opposite of Everything, to me and my reading audience. And I'm sure you won't be disappointed.  The Opposite of Everything is David Kalish' debut novel that explores the comic side of tragedy.  Inspired by his own brush with cancer and divorce, author Kalish makes comedy out of his past. Equal parts love story and Job-like allegory, The Opposite of Everything traces the hilarious descent of a man stricken with disease, divorce, and an over-supportive father – and the contrarian strategy he uses to resurrect himself. When Brooklyn journalist Daniel Plotnick learns he has cancer, his fortunes fall faster than you can say “Ten Plagues of Egypt.” His wife can’t cope, his marriage ends in a showdown with police, and his father accidentally pushes him off the George Washington Bridge. Plotnick miraculously survives his terrifying plunge --and comes up with a crazy plan to turn his life … [Read more...]

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Father’s Day sadness

On this day I think a bit about my dad, but just a bit. He’s been dead since 1975 - over thirty-seven years. He’s vague in a lot of ways. Yet I still remember vividly his last year and half and his courageous battle against cancer. I think he waged the battle to please my mother. His own heart wasn’t in it. Finally, and I was so proud of him for this, he said he was through. He just wanted more and more morphine to aid him in dying. That was the most courageous part. Standing up to her and dying on his own terms. Dad and Paul, 1973 What makes me more sad today is what Bob has been through. He was the father of three sons and now only one is living. His first son, Eric, was born with Down syndrome during his first marriage. He died in 2004 accidentally, choking on a peanut butter sandwich. Bob and Eric Our older son Paul was born perfectly healthy and was fine and brilliant until his first manic break at age twenty-one. He was then diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder. At age twent … [Read more...]

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Patty "Next Door"

Beautiful Manhattan Beach Sunset The sun is setting on my neighbor next door. Everytime I look toward her house - just on the other side of our wood slat fence, I feel sad. She's been battling pancreatic cancer for about two and a half years, and we were all optimistic at first because the chemotherapy seemed to be working. We've never been very close, but it's always nice to know she is there. And we're shared some good times - her daughter's wedding, a few special birthdays. We've also shared some tough times - our Paul's death and the death of her daughter's infant. We'd have conversations from our deck or patio and a few dinners together. But that's over. We tried to visit last weekend, but her husband said it is too late. She stays in bed, sleeping most of the time because of doses of heavy painkillers, and has only days left. Recently visitors arrived next door with flowers and sad faces. Made me wonder if it’s Patty’s time. She’s been struggling with pancr … [Read more...]

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Another survivor

What's been going on in my life all came into perspective when I opened the mail yesterday and found in the Cancer Support Community (formerly The Wellness Community) newsletter a survivor profile on the front page. I looked at the photo of this survivor and immediately recognized a man I’ve known at the gym for years. We’ve only exchanged Hi’s and smiles and once in a while a local restaurant recommendation – I don’t even remember how we got into that – and that’s the extent of what I knew about him. I noticed he always wore a cap, and lately he was looking thinner, but I had no idea that he has been battling cancer since 1997 – first for a melanoma that started on his skull and metastasized to his neck, spleen, liver, and colon and a later diagnosis of prostate cancer. After years of radiation and surgical treatments, as of Thanksgiving 2010 he was pronounced cancer free. And through it all I've seen this man at the gym always with a smile on his face – a guy who looks like he has the … [Read more...]

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