Through these years…
1975; I was young, restless and longed to experience life beyond Long Island, New York. I was twenty-one years old, married with two sons. I lived in a three bedroom ranch built with thick cedar siding in the suburbs. My husband and I chose Arizona as our destination. I couldn’t wait for my independence.
1977; we moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. We bought a three bedroom ranch built with desert stucco. We lived ten minutes from the lake, and bought a boat the first weekend. The four of us enjoyed Lake Havasu on the weekends. During the week, I drove my sons in our 4-wheel drive truck right onto Mud Shark Beach. Lake Havasu City lived up to our expectations.
1980; If I could offer anyone marriage advice, it would be, don’t buy your husband a guitar. He loved his Christmas gift and showed off for his co-workers. Women loved it. We divorced in two years.
1980; in a clouded vision, I made a bad decision to move back to Long Island. Our friend, Bob, offered to drive us across country in my Jeep. It was safer to travel with a reliable man. He was good to my sons and we opened our hearts and home to him.
1981; I missed the Great Southwest and my independence. We moved back to Arizona and chose Phoenix as our destination. We bought a two bedroom ranch and turned it into three bedrooms. I worked menial jobs before I started my own home cleaning service, Clean as a Whistle.
1985; I married Bob.
1988; I gave birth to my third son.
1993; I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. I substitute taught for two years before I secured a full time position. I taught fourth and fifth grade for three years.
1997; I divorced Bob.
I forced myself to evaluate my finances. A friend told me about Nevada’s Public Employees Retirement System. I researched the plan and decided it would be best to move to Nevada. I secured a job in Las Vegas via phone.
1998; I anticipated a bright future as a single mom with a good job and good health. I didn’t buy a three bedroom ranch, instead I bought an 844 square foot townhome easy to maintain. My son started fifth grade happy and healthy. My twenty-three year old son surprised us and moved from Phoenix to Las Vegas. He got a job and moved into his own apartment. We settled in to our new life.
I acted like a typical tourist, drawn to the lights and excitement on the Las Vegas strip. I sought live music with the excitement of my first David Bowie concert. I taught school during the week and in my spare time on weekends, I walked the strip and listened to bands. The House of Blues promoted unknown bands during the week and hosted popular bands on weekends; when possible, I was a regular patron.
I joined the Las Vegas Athletic Club. I worked out and added kick boxing and boot camp to my regimen. I felt great.
1999; my son’s girlfriend urged me to join the internet dating rage. It didn’t take long before I shared my passion for music with dates. I met a musician who played a mean trombone! He took me on his gigs and I experienced Vegas from a musician’s point of view for a year and a half.
2001; I continued to date and met other men who shared my interest in live music. I was involved in a relationship with a promised future. He moved in with us and we enjoyed the family unit. Life was good!
August 27, 2001; I received a phone call while I loaded my dishwasher. My oldest son died. He lived in Phoenix, he was 29 years old. Life as I knew it stopped, it just stopped. I felt like I drove my pick-up truck into a cement wall going 100 mph.
September 2001; my boyfriend failed to mention he was on medication since the day I met him. I threw him out. I couldn’t live with a dishonest man.
I worked every day in a hypnotic state. I took care of business and stayed strong for my sons. I was depressed, but denial was how I coped. I changed schools and I don’t remember the move.
August 2002; I earned my Master of Arts in Education.
October 2002; I scheduled an annual appointment with my gynecologist.
October 2003; I scheduled an annual appointment with a new gynecologist.
October 2003; I scheduled my first appointment with a Primary doctor.
November 2003; I scheduled my first appointment with an oncologist.
… A silent, slow-growing cancer lay dormant in my body.
From here, my life took an unexpected turn, from which I can never return….