Outside Looking In
Mitzi Buckingham passed away this past week. Many will feel she didn't lose her fight with cancer. If anything, she will long be remembered as a winner.
Cancer is a vile, thoughtless disease that wants to inflict pain and agony on each of its victims, hoping they will break them down into giving up, thus speeding up the process of its goal of taking another life.
Sometimes, though, the victim doesn't give up so easily.
Mitzi not only wasn't afraid to step in the ring with this heartless foe, she stood toe to toe with cancer for 2½ years, taking punch after punch but refusing to go down.
On Tuesday, June 7, Mitzi's journey on earth ended. She is now in a better place, being celebrated for her faith and the positive way that she lived her life up to the final minute.
When I last spoke with Mitzi, I offered her the chance to express herself to me "off the record". She refused to use words like scared, lose hope or give up.
"I wouldn't be human if I wasn't scared. But you have to play the hand you're dealt," she said. "I'm not giving up, but I've had a good life and when it's my time, it's my time."
Mitzi wasn't ashamed or afraid to publicize her journey on Facebook, no matter how grim it might have appeared to others. She detailed everything she was going through, always including a positive spin on it. An example of that was when she had to have an ostomy bag, telling all the problems she encountered with it, even making light of it at times when others would have been devastated.
Mitzi urged others not to feel sorry for her during her cancer battle because she refused to feel sorry for herself.
In all honesty, Mitzi was not only the strongest woman I've ever known in my life, she was the strongest person I've ever known. I have yet to see anyone go through something like this with the open attitude she presented to others.
I have known far too many people that have gone through cancer, including my mother and sister, who both passed away young from a brain tumor. It not only takes a toll of a person physically, but also mentally. Somehow, though Mitzi was able to maintain her mental strength.
When I spoke to Mitzi's grandson, Jayden Gamrak, after graduation ceremonies, he too, was amazed at his grandmother's positivity.
"It's unbelievable how strong she has been through all of this," he said, shaking his head for emphasis.
Mitzi wasn't able to attend the graduation ceremony, but Gamrak was pleased that she could watch the streamlined commencement exercises online.
When the day came recently that news of the cancer had progressed to the point that Mitzi went into Hospice care, she posted the news on her Facebook page in a positive way, thanking her family and friends for supporting her along the way. The photo she included showed her lying comfortably in a bed with a big smile on her face as she often did when posting throughout her cancer battle.
If only the rest of us could deal with adversity in such a positive light.
When Mitzi passed, the messages posted online were overwhelming. She had touched a tremendous number of people with the way she fought.
Goodbye, Mitzi. Rest in peace.
It's very frustrating when you spend time and money to purchase a watermelon, only to find out it's not sweet when you cut it open.
I was purchasing a watermelon recently when an elderly man taught me how to pick out a sweet and juicy one. He said he was a nearby farmer and claimed his technique is foolproof.
First, check the stem, he said. If it's green, it was taken from the vine before it had a chance to ripen. Always pick a stem that is brown.
Second, make sure the watermelon has a yellowish marking on it. That indicates it had time to "bake" in the sun and ripen.
Third, tap the watermelon with one of your knuckles. If it sounds hollow, it means it's full of water and ripe.
If none of these signs are among the batch of watermelons you are looking over, he said, you are better off eating something else.
I tested his methods. When I found one with that fit all three of his descriptions, I bought it. It was sweet and juicy, just as he predicted.