I have now spent over a year living with and caring for my slowly crumbling, now 99 year old mother. During a global pandemic. A bittersweet and challenging honour to say the least.
This COVID Pandemic has exhausted me so I am turning my back on it. I could be journalling about all the crazy/funny shit that I have experienced or seen. But I shall let all the meme-makers cover it.
I have spent more than a year trying to be good. It sucked.
I hate trying to be good. If you have read my posts thus far, you know how my DNA is twisted on a slant that makes sainthood for me as likely as me ever shopping at Goodwill to retrieve my button pants.
And speaking of DNA, I am afraid that I may have inherited the longevity gene of my parents. I look at my mother and see how much I fear growing old.
Because I didn’t plan my life well. I chose to not reproduce. I didn’t have a daughter who would choose nursing as a career. Who would feed me, mix my drinks, and wipe my arse when I could no longer manage. A female offspring who would freely navigate the financial/medical/equipment-requiring/long term care nightmare with me. Failed again.
Mitochondrial DNA (or mDNA) is inherited strictly from the mom. Because mDNA can only be inherited from the mother, meaning any traits contained within this DNA come exclusively from mom—in fact, the father’s mDNA essentially self-destructs when it meets and fuses with the mother’s cells. So my claim that “I am truly my father’s daughter” only really goes so far as my brown eyes and skin with lots of melanin.
So given how weak (and purposely unaccountable?) male DNA appears, I guess it stands to reason that people assume that breast cancer (like thinning hair) is inherited from our mothers. If you recall, I wondered this myself when I was first diagnosed. Narrowing my eyes and whispering “Why me? Who should I blame for this crap? Who else peed in our family gene pool?” I found a sister, some aunts, and one uncle. Not enough for any kind of pool party, gene or otherwise.
My mother? Nope. Nada. (Other than some basal cell skin cancer that a redhead who never wore sunscreen could expect.)
So my research indicates that the mDNA may have carried the handgun, but the shooter acted alone. I was the trigger-puller.
MY life choices, MY stress, MY alcohol consumption, MY hormones, My cigarette smoking, MY consumption of all things fried or sugary. MY love of foods containing monosodium glutamate, artificial colouring, sodium nitrite, guar gum, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, carrageenan, sodium benzoate et al. MY free handling and inhaling of insect sprays and fertilizers. MY sleeping in a crib that likely had leaded paint. (Ok THAT one I’ll put on Mom.)
I also think that there is also the possibility that NONE of the above has shit-all to do with my getting breast cancer.
Maybe it was just a matter of a couple of normal cells who decided to become asshole cells that got together and decided to have more baby asshole cells. No promoting was required. No offer of a free toaster. It was just a slow Saturday night and there was nothing on Netflix for them to watch.
So I will not look back.
I will not try to find the answer to the “What did I (or my mother) do wrong?” question.
I also will not try to find the secret to a long life. Because I don’t really want to have as long a life as I thought I once did. And because if a 99 year old doesn’t know the secret….
I will instead try focus on and celebrate what each day of my life will hold. A laughter-filled and horribly played game of (distanced) golf with a friend, a self-applied facial, a joke shared with my Mom, the removal of a chin hair on the first try, a sunny sky with heat enough to bring spring buds alive, a cocktail in the afternoon, or any one of a thousand different things that make being alive actually worthwhile.
Pandemic or no pandemic.
Maybe THAT is something I inherited from my mother. And I will be grateful for her no matter how long a life I live.