Saturday, August 21, 2010

Oh, Sisters!

Fern Forest hosted our first sisters last week. Christine is a retired teacher from Ontario and brought along Lois, who will be teaching second grade in Vancouver when school starts in a week. Christine is a widow and Lois is recovering from breast cancer surgery, and they thought a dip down into the States would be just the thing.

These two bubbled in from a long drive and appeared to be not the least bit fatigued. We gave them a little glass of wine, and they bounced off to the Bobcat for a bite of dinner. When they came back, they climbed into their pajamas. Lois wears a pale green satin number, and Christine was bundled in flannel. H gave them flashlights and they marched out to the treehouse for the night’s adventure.

In the morning Christine was up first. She slept like a baby in the lower bunk under a down comforter. Lois in the loft was a little distracted by critters skittering across the roof, but she persevered and finally fell asleep until the sun streamed in the window in the morning. Rarely have I met mature women with such zest. Christine asked about everything—H’s lamps and stained glass work, the house design, the artwork—and ahhhed with enthusiastic appreciation. Lois gave us a verbal tour of the cottage she’s designing for herself and hopes to get her hands dirty with some of the building. She also told me about the seven surgeries to remove the cancer and reconstruct her right breast. For the reconstruction, doctors took fat from her stomach and muscle to hold the fat in place like a sling inside the skin.

"I'll show it to you," she said and without waiting for a reply she lifted her shirt and revealed her beautiful, natural looking breast. I didn't reciprocate. My own surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my left breast was 25 years ago, a lumpectomy followed by six weeks of radiation. I was able to keep most of the breast and the nipple, but Lois and I weren't in a competition. We are survivor sisters.

H was reading the paper in the other room and missed the show. Christine was with us and sat quietly, smiling support. A different kind of sister.

After breakfast, Christine suggested there was no time to dilly dally. They were off to Portland to dip their toes in the ocean and then planned to make their way to Boston where they’d sightsee for a couple days. Then Christine would put Lois on a plane from Logan to Vancouver and would head back to Ontario solo. She lives in a small town on Lake Ontario and next door to a hundred-acre conservation area five minutes from Presquile, a Provincial Park renowned for birds and butterflies. Her home is big enough to host Airbnb guests, so you might get a chance to meet this ebullient lady. She and Lois get two thumbs up from us.

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