Thursday, November 12, 2009

Picture Perfect... and This Too Shall Pass

Every weekend since the dawn of creation our family has persistently declared its intention to get Family Photos taken…and every weekend we have been inundated with aggressive opposition. We have all been mugged by chronic Life Interruption.

Our mission is to capture our particular Nikon moments for posterity, but so far, posterity has been SOL.

How does life become so congested it is nearly impossible to assemble in one place at one time a dozen of the finest people I know?
Where do I begin?

Here is a comprehensive inventory of all the distractions that have thwarted our attempts on behalf of said posterity:

1. Soccer games
2. More soccer games.
3. Weight – either too much or too little.
4. Cleavage – either too much or too little.
5. A preponderance of root re-growth and insufficient platinum to cover.
6. Tantrums – by tired children.
7. More tantrums – by tired adults.
8. Post-menopausal facial hair growth.
9. Pre-menopausal pimples.
10. Diapers loaded with primeval muck.
11. Nasal glut resembling Metazoic ooze.
12. Recreational appendectomy.
13. Multiple hernia repairs.
14. Utah’s 3-season weather: it’s either just been too cold, or it’s going to be too cold, or it is too cold.
15. Inability to get on plastic surgeon’s schedule in spite of tantrum (see # 7) after years of full-throttle uglying up.

But Saturday, in spite of adversarial efforts by the Dark Side, The Twelve assembled at Grandma’s house. And so began the process of preserving the moments that will all too soon become memories.

With dangerous simple-mindedness, I am ashamed to admit we stooped to bribing the children with chocolate and candy to remove fingers from nostrils and sit still until the shutter clicked. We wondered if we would regret letting them out of their cages. Behind our smiles, pleas and empty threats were mumbled out the side of our mouths through clenched teeth.

Meanwhile, the adults were desperately mainlining caffeinated beverages through central venous catheters in an heroic effort to survive the exasperation of kids clashing with cameras. (The punctured-air clicks of opening Coke cans were nearly as rapid-fire as the staccato clicks of the photographer.) Eventually, inevitably, the sugar and the caffeine collided, with moments so hysterical, they were snort-cola-out-your-nose funny.

Beckham and Asher, however, soon became clear on the concept, and began to mug and pose for their close-ups like tiny divas. We could almost hear them singing “…if you want my body, and you think I’m sexy…”
But with yellow roses blooming in November, leaves drifting through the air like balsa wood gliders, and backlighting from the early morning autumn sun, we actually captured those elusive moments…in spite of diversions and distractions.

Time slips so easily into the past…and the future.

Posterity, whoever that eventually entails, will be given the photographic evidence of one brief shining exquisite hour on an early Saturday morning in autumn, when a dozen of the finest people I know gathered together at Grandma’s house for Family Photos.

It is November, the month of Thanksgiving and counting blessings for harvests and abundance. But did you know that November is also Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month? Of course, for the past two years, there has never been a moment when we were NOT aware of pancreas cancer. But perhaps this is a good time to profile the little fellow whose existence is so unobtrusive, and yet can create such havoc.

The pancreas is a pear-shaped gland located between the stomach and spine. When functioning properly, it is programmed to secrete digestive enzymes and make insulin and other hormones that regulate metabolism. And, if not trifled with, nobody gets hurt.

Its very efficiency causes us to take it for granted.

However, the pancreas lies hidden behind other organs, and doctors cannot see or feel any tumors or irregularities during routine exams. Thus, this cancer is particularly deadly because early detection is difficult. There are no reliable screening tests, such as a colonoscopy, to indicate the presence of cancer before symptoms are manifest.

The symptoms themselves can be deceiving, because they are subtle and routinely misdiagnosed. Abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss are associated with many other maladies, and do not necessarily indicate specific problems in the pancreas.

So here is an inventory of symptoms and signs to take seriously:

1. Jaundice, with or without itching, dark urine, light stool.
2. General symptoms: back pain, fatigue or weakness.
3. Other illnesses: pancreatitis, diabetes.
4. Digestive problems: unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, malnutrition, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain.

Cancer is a soulless demon, and a diagnosis disrupts the choreography of our lives, altering the body, the mind, the universe.

But there is so much that can be done to treat this plague. Dr. Mulvihill and the people at the Huntsman Center are leading a crusade to obliterate the obscenity that is cancer. And we have been inducted in the army who battle this disease. We are committed in the quest to eradicate this black evil.

Recently, Dennis and I were walking along the Jordan River Parkway, in companionable silence, when we looked up and saw a little piece of serendipity in the form of a 300-pound biker barreling straight at us – NO helmet, NO hands on the handlebars, pedaling DOWNHILL with the sun directly in his eyes, iPod in his ears, TXTNG! NO KIDDING!

There was absolutely no way to avoid blunt force trauma should his bike veer the width of a single hair in our direction. It reminded us of Indiana Jones and that infamous rolling boulder looking for road kill.

Through immense good fortune and a protective magic amulet, colossal catastrophe was averted. It would have required “jaws of death” just to extricate our mangled bodies from his bike.

But that biker was a literal vision of how adversity can strike with stealth and silence. It seems when you least fathom a crisis, that’s when it occurs. Be aware and prepare. This is a good thing.

November is a glorious season for family photos, awareness, and gratitude. I heard Christmas carols on the radio this morning…it is not too soon at all.

Happy Thanksgiving and love to all,

The Clot


jerry said...

loved the post, love the pic's, love the peeps.

margaret said...

I wondered what you were all doing dressed to kill wandering your back yard on an early Saturday morning -- I know it was odd I was even up! --And I thought Dennis was making up that story about the biker - I should never doubt!

Paula said...

Loved the photo. What joy!!

Anonymous said...

Glad the wait was worth it and the numbers came down. What a great treasure your family photo's will be. Keep up the good work and have a great Thanksgiving. We do always have much to be thankful for. Chris C

Anonymous said...

Pancreas is one regarding which there is a varied understanding in today's day. There are many discoveries around the pancreas.. I made these flashcards to ensure that everyone can understand the many details about this organ.

Marilyn Larson said...

That was a great picture and comments of life, loves, cancer, etc. I hope you are sending out Christmas cards with the photo so I can have one for a keepsake. Looking forward to seeing you at the Cousins' Reunion Sat. at Capitol Hill Ward. Love to you. Marilyn A. Larson