Author Archives: Bobbie DuBose

A Life Well Lived

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“Her life was not an easy life.  She experienced heartache and hardship, but it was a life well lived.” This is a phrase I found myself repeating to mourners who came to pay their final respects at my mother’s funeral this week.

I’ve penned more than one post in the past (As is the mother, so is her daughter. Ez. 16:44, Happy Special Birthday, A Very Special Mother’s Day) that offered a glimpse into my mother’s 86 years on this earth.

The Great Depression.  The deaths of two husbands and one infant daughter.  Life as a widow raising four children—two of whom gave her more than her deserved share of trouble (yours truly among them). The deaths of both parents and five siblings—three sisters and two brothers. Decades plagued by the effects of emphysema (chief among them—a susceptibility for pneumonia).  Cancer.  These are a sampling of challenges my mother faced in her 86 years and seven months this side of heaven.

 

Love.  Laughter.  Family.  True, genuine, nurturing and caring friendships.  Travel.  A 25-year career working for folks who weren’t only employers but dear friends as well. Secure knowledge in her place in heaven upon departing this earth. These are the things that made for a life well lived.

Ruth Ann Cassella;  born January 6, 1931 – died August 4, 2017, following a life well lived

A Very Special Mother’s Day

Have you ever met someone so unassumingly tough that when they demonstrate their power and might your jaw hits the floor?  That’s how I feel about my mom.  I’ve penned a few blog posts about my mother over the years, so this statement may not come as a shock to many of you.  I, however, continue to be amazed by this gutsy octogenarian’s exploits.

Shortly after her 86th birthday this past January, my mom was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma (lung cancer).  I don’t think this was truly a shock to anyone.  A former tobacco smoker, my mom has emphysema and a history of severe bouts of pneumonia.  The ultimate diagnosis, however, was perhaps more devastating to me than to my mom.  When I questioned her as to how she felt following the initial diagnosis, my mom said, “It’s going to be what it is.  If Saint Peter opens the gates for me, then I’m ready.”  That peace—her peace—became my peace.  There was no other way for me to accept the circumstances at hand.

So, here we are four months later, and my mom just completed her prescribed round of chemotherapy yesterday, May 11th.  Additionally, she began radiation treatments—a prescribed course of thirty treatments to take place twice daily over the course of fifteen weekdays.  The first two days of radiation piggybacked her final two days (6 hours and 2 hours, respectively) of chemotherapy.  I don’t know about you, but this schedule is daunting to even me.  But you know what—my mother handled it like Muhammad Ali handled Sonny Liston.  I am awestruck.

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Something and someone else I need to make mention of in this Mother’s Day tribute is my sister, Karen.  She has been a steadfast anchor for my mom for not only the past few months, but for years.  She is there, day in and day out, meeting what needs my proud mother sees fitting to share.  As a matter of course, she has always been there to tend the flowers and lawn in summer and snow-covered driveway in winter as well as all needs that fall outside of my strong (feisty) mother’s capabilities in seasons between. But since my mother’s cancer diagnosis, my sister’s responsibilities have grown exponentially.  She is the keeper of myriad appointments, the sole source of transportation to and from the many appointments, and the general caretaker of all things beyond my mother’s abilities.  Don’t misconstrue this, however.  I am certainly not insinuating my mother is incapable, because she absolutely is not, which amazes me, but I digress…

So, as we approach this Mother’s Day, I’m giving my biggest, loudest shout out to my mom for her continued desire, willingness and ability to kick ass.  (Yes, I cursed; butt just didn’t sound as effective.  #eyeroll)  Happy Mother’s Day, mom.  You are amazing!  You’ve put forth enormous (literally and figuratively) shoes to fill.  I hope to leave this life one day as a fraction of the woman and mother you are.

Unless…

This.  This photo right here.  You have no idea what this photo represents to G and me.  

Unless you have a child who has difficulties interpreting and comprehending the subtle nuances of social interaction, you more than likely don’t understand the magnitude of this photo.  Unless you have a child who doesn’t “get” the give and take of social interaction, this photo probably seems mundane.  Unless you have a child who doesn’t have a single real and true friend, you most likely don’t grasp the overall import of the seemingly simple interaction depicted in this photo.  Unless you have a child who comes home from school in tears, sobbing that his classmates think he’s the dumbest kid in his class and ostracize him from much of the day’s classroom and playground interactions, you can’t possibly comprehend the joy this photo brings to two concerned parents.   Unless your child pleads with you to “find a friend” for him, you can’t possibly understand how this photo shatters two parents’ hearts into a million tiny shards. 

A friend is something most of us take for granted, yet is so very vital to our complete wellbeing.  We were created to be social creatures.  When that simple, yet necessary component is lacking in our lives we are incomplete.  It’s a vacancy we feel in our soul.  And when you try your very best, oftentimes forcing the situation, the rejection can be gut wrenchingly debilitating.  

This weekend we had the pleasure of spending Friday evening in the company of a family we’ve been promising to have over for dinner for years.  They’re a family we instantly connected with at the skatepark years ago–G with the father, J-man with the son, and I with the mom.  Yet, as life oftentimes does, it got in the way of the six of us getting together.  Yes, G and I had a wonderful time conversing and laughing with “N’s” parents Friday night, but the highlight of the evening was how J-man and “N” related and interacted.  It was a beautiful sight to behold, stopping G and me in our tracks time and again throughout the evening.

Sunday, while out on our 52-mile pedalabout, I received a text from “N’s” mom stating he wouldn’t stop asking when he could see J-man again.  I replied, telling her we’d be back by one o’clock and he was welcome to come over.  The two boys again connected instantly.  They picked up where they left off, engaging in NERF wars, sword fights and playing Minecraft.  Even the video game had serious interaction–communication, teamwork, instructing and encouraging one another and trash talking.  I was in HEAVEN! 

I’m a firm believer in the adage it’s the little things in life that make life so very rich.  This photo is proof of that belief.  Thank you, God, for answered prayers. 

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love. ~Hubert H. Humphrey 

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder 

This morning I took a little ride along a canal I frequently traverse.  The canal runs parallel to an exclusive golf and country club.  Although I’ve never been in this particular club, I can see quite a bit of the golf course’s perfectly manicured fairways and greens from my vantage point.  The pristine landscape doesn’t hold a candle to an untended hedgerow of bougainvillea that runs along the backside of the property’s concrete privacy wall.  The people inside those walls have no idea of the beauty and splendor on the backside of that wall.  The colorful flowers beckon a wealth of birdlife and butterflies.  


Although I’ve not visited this particular club, I’ve been to several just like it, usually to play golf.  They’re all interchangeable with the same ostentatious surroundings and an overabundance of obnoxious people.   Case in point, one time, about 10 or so years ago, the mister and I were playing a round of golf with friends at a club where we were members.  I was pulled aside at the turn by a golf course employee who informed me my Lija golf shorts were considered to be too short by a group of ladies who were also playing that day.  I was humiliated, to say the least, and forced to purchase a golf skort that reached well below my knees on my 5′ 3″ frame.  Yeah, good times. 

All this to say, the folks on the inside of that wall can keep their perfectly manicured property and I’ll happily stick to riding my bike on the far side of the canal, taking in the breathtaking view of unkemp bougainvillea, birds and butterflies.  Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.  

Treasure to Trash

“I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all learn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair. That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life — it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed. And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed. She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.” ~Frances E. Willard, ‘How I Learned To Ride The Bicycle’, 1895

Yep.  This pretty much sums up my regard for riding a bike.  I recently came upon this passage from Frances Willard’s How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle: Reflections of an Influential 19th Century Woman.  Willard, who took up biking in 1893, at the age of 53, was (and still is) a well-known suffragette.  Originally published in 1895,  How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle was penned by Willard as a means to provide insight into both the profound impact of the bicycle at the turn of the century and the newly discovered freedom it afforded women in America.   

To me, bicycling represents many things.  I too, experience the unparalleled freedom Willard alluded to.  Perhaps I’m narrow-minded, but I think everyone must feel this sense of freedom and the deep, personal satisfaction one experiences astride a bike, to one degree or another.  Whether you ride a bike for fitness, exploration, recreation, the sheer freedom you feel, or because it’s your primary mode of transportation and/or transport, when you ride a bike your bike is a cherished and oftentimes necessary possession.  That’s why I’m troubled each and every time I encounter the following. 


I’ll never understand why someone would chuck a bicycle in a canal, lake or empty lot.  Aside from the wanton destruction of property, I give a hoot and would never intentionally pollute.  My first instinct is the bikes are stolen.  Whether or not that’s the case, I’ll probably never know.  What I do know is this.  Those bicycles, in their watery graves, are depriving someone of a lot of joy, freedom, fitness, recreation and transportation.   At least that’s what I think when I happen upon them, which happens far more than these four photos indicate. 

AM Commute


Boy, it sure does feel good to be back in a groove.  As much as I am a creature of change and wanderlust, I’m also a person who thrives on routine.  To say the first three months of 2017 took me off my game and out of my routine is a gross understatement. 

J-man’s seizure and subsequent testing, my mother’s cancer diagnosis and the death of a beloved canine companion truly sent me into a tailspin.  I’m usually a happy, upbeat gal, but these events, in a very brief period of time, sent me into a blue, blue, blue funk.  I’m talking the not-wanting-to-get-out-of-bed-all-day kind of funk that is unsettling and frightening.  These events, the depression (let’s call it what it was), compounded with seemingly never-ending, virtually drug resistant bouts of sinus infections and bronchitis for both me and J-man really upended my world.  And the “well meaning” folks who said, “It could be worse, you know,” made things even worse because that just made me feel like an overall crappy person who apparently lacks faith.  I spent the first three months of 2017 doing virtually nothing except existing.  I didn’t ride. I didn’t run.  I didn’t walk. Heck, I didn’t even walk the dogs.  Needless to say, my physical and emotional well-being suffered.  I felt horrible in every sense of the word.

Greg and I participated in a 61 mile off road Grinduro ride Sunday. Although I’ve done longer rides by far, this ride was the most physically difficult ride I’ve ever done.  I was completely out of shape, both mentally and physically.  I completed the ride but it was a sufferfest for me.  But you know what?  It was exactly what I needed. It kick started me mentally and jolted me out of the dark space I had backed myself into.  The ride illuminated, with a bright spotlight, just how far I had let myself go.   I’m not talking in just a physical sense, I’m talking in every sense of my being. 


As much as I hurt physically Monday morning, Jackson and I got back on the bike and I’ve since  crept slowly back into a (healthy) routine. It’s been a week of physical activity for me, and I feel better than I’ve felt in months.

Country Mouse

If you know me (present day), you know I’m happiest in either the mountains or the country.  This is ironic given that I fought long and hard to escape my upbringing in a very rural, small town in western Pennsylvania.  Growing up, I couldn’t wait to escape the country.  My dream was to live in New York City, due in part to the influence of the classic Doris Day, Rock Hudson movies Lover Come Back and Pillow Talk, both of which take place in NYC.  As a young girl, I fantasized of living and working in a big city, like Doris Day’s character, Jan, did.  

As I’ve grown up and older, however, I’ve grown to appreciate a slower paced, quieter lifestyle–especially parenting a young child again.  There’s much to be said about the peace and solitude that’s part and parcel of immersing yourself in the expanse of nature.  At one time I found a modicum of this peace and solitude on the beach and in the ocean.  That no longer appeals to me, however.  In fact, I now find the changing tides and raging waves deeply unsettling for reasons I can’t fully explain.  Perhaps this is due, at least in part, to who I was when I sought to live near the ocean.  I was a very unsettled person, seeking and searching to find meaning in life, when I migrated southward fifteen years ago.  Now that I’ve discovered who I am to some degree, the inherent by-product is peace and tranquility–both of which I experience in a pastoral setting.  

For the next two weeks I will be in my happy place, in the Rocky Mountains.  Thanks to Airbnb, I scored a cute little home nestled at the foothills of the Flatirons.  This morning while munchkin is yet sleeping, I’m sipping coffee on the deck while my man is swinging in a hammock, and I can honestly say I’ve never been happier or more at peace.  Oh, and the temperature is a lovely 64 degrees.  The mountains were calling, and I answered.