Wow. Or, better yet: WOW!

It’s the Monday morning of Labor Day weekend, and I’m feeling especially grateful. Grateful that the heat has dissipated here in the LA area. Grateful that we didn’t have to evacuate because of flooding in Texas or a wildfire in Burbank. Grateful that our freezer seems to be functional after a really tough week of 100+ temperatures (and no A/C). Grateful to be cancer-free. Grateful for an amazing, supportive, loving husband, four fantastic stepkids and three black cats. Greatful (yes, it’s a typo but it works!) for this beautiful home and spectacular backyard that hosted 80 fabulous friends on Saturday night for a “Got Well” party to celebrate my cancer-freedom:

Friends turned up en masse on a hot September night . . .

I (temporarily) gave up my need for perfection and used a variety of tables and chairs in an eclectic mix …

My favorite musician, Andrew Johns, has an incredible vocal range. One guest, after parking his car on the street, was anxious to hear the black woman singing . . .

My dear husband, Scott, made a beautiful, heartfelt speech…

A sizable contingent of WOWees came to celebrate my health!

Grateful for social media, that has allowed me to stay connected and re-connect with people from my immediate and long-ago past. One such friend, Amy, was my best friend in high school. When I wrote a blog about my diagnosis last summer, and asked people – in lieu of gifts or casseroles – to do a good deed for someone, Amy – who lives in Iola, Wisconsin (pop. 1,301) did something that nobody else has ever done for me. She helped a neighbor deliver a litter of piglets!

This is what she wrote to me back then:

“You know, Marilyn, a while back you asked for random acts of kindness to support you. I live a life of small footprint on the earth. Sometimes not seeing people. Grow food. Have few interactions. You made me think by your request. I work hard to make ends meet. This is a choice, not a struggle. My struggle is in getting out of my head, doing something for others. So I was inspired to try, for you. My first was to offer those long green beans I picked from my garden not to the freezer, but to a person who just suffered a loss and was having meals cooked for her. My second was just yesterday (see, they don’t come easy!). My friend’s husband had 7-hour back surgery and I offered to help deliver 5 piglets, due that afternoon!! I actually didn’t get to do that, yet, it’s the thought that counts, right?! Thank you for inspiring me. YOU are an awesome woman!”

I wrote a blog about the most unusual random act of kindness I’ve ever heard of!

When I published the party invitation on Facebook, Amy was hoping to come and I, of course, was hoping the same. It’s been 40 years since we’ve seen each other. We searched for a not-unreasonable airfare, but when one chooses to live in a place like Iola, Wisconsin (pop. 1,301) – for which the closest airport is Appleton, Wisconsin – one cannot fly out of there without paying a premium ticket price. In our back-and-forth correspondence, I dared to ask about little (now big) Murphy … and if she was now (gulp) possibly breakfast sausages. Amy taunted me with a message about a “remarkable turn” to that story. She said she’d explain it in an email.

Just this morning, I sat to read all the emails I’ve been ignoring all week. And this is what Amy wrote:

“Murphy the piglet grew and grew, just not as big and fast as her litter mates. They picked on her, tried to stymie her spirits. She was not to be hindered by this. She ran faster, squealed louder, jumped and leaped with WOW power. While you went through chemo, Marilyn, her tail was in a crooked curl, she itched and scratched incessantly, yet she always had this grin on her snout. When your first round of chemo failed, her eye was nearly poked out by some big tough pigs. 

When butchering time came around, her owner told me that I had earned myself some pork, being the catalyst for naming Murphy (and you know that back story). I was scared. Scared to tell you, Marilyn, scared of – geez – killing that pig after all she had gone through with you! Months later, my friend called to tell me that she and her brother had butchered all the pigs and I could call and order whatever cuts I wanted. THEN she told me that Murph was too small so she was SAVED!!

She was sold as a breed sow to a pig owner IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD and I see her every Monday. She is happy, rolling around like a pig in the mud. All her yard mates are mud black and mud gray. She still shines a pure pink out from under that mud!! She basks in the sun and smiles like a queen.

I feel lucky to know her!”


Thanks to everyone who attended my celebration, everyone who wanted to attend, and everyone who supported me through my year-long adventure! You are loved … pass it on!