Lost and Found…

Upon mom’s passing we have been fortunate to be contacted by some of her family from Belgium.  Christian Gaule, first cousin to mom, reached out to Sabine and I and sending us pictures of mom.  I’d like to keep adding them to this blog; we love the pictures.  Christian has also confirmed mom’s nickname that she inherited at 20 months of age,  Poupette, which is French for butterfly.

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Milestone(s).

Got my chemotherapy power port removed today. True to my mom’s wish she was alive to see me through my treatment and double mastectomy for breast cancer before passing away from her own fight with ovarian cancer 3 weeks ago. My mom, my light and strength who taught me how to fight and be strong. I love and miss you every day mom. 🕊 — at Saint Francis Cancer Center.

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i love you mom

Marie José Kapoor 1943 – 2016 It was only 19 short years ago that Marie Kapoor was given a terminal diagnosis of ovarian cancer and a life expectancy of six months. Her response was confident and composed, “It is not yet my time.” Daughter of the late Victor Gaule and Julia Plainchamps Gaule, Marie was born on January 31, 1943 in Namur, Belgium. After receiving her master’s degree in business administration, she moved to Germany and accepted a position teaching French at a university. Marie met her future husband Raj Kapoor at a weekly dance hosted by the university, and the two waltzed their way to the altar within a year. The couple married in Belgium with Marie’s closest family present and shortly after moved to Arkansas where Raj pursued a master’s degree in engineering. While in Arkansas, they were blessed by the birth of their twin daughters, Catherine and Sabine. The next three years were spent in Kansas where Raj completed his PhD and finally after years of relocation the young family settled in Granby, Connecticut. The Kapoors cherished 43 wonderful years in Granby and consider it home. Learning English was a challenge for Marie. A brilliant woman who was proficient in many languages, Marie did not feel comfortable with her English upon arrival in the United States and dedicated herself to learning both the spoken language and culture. She spent countless hours watching television and reading books, especially the dictionary. Her mastery of the English language has made her the champion “Apples-to-Apples” player at all holiday events. Marie was eager to reenter the workforce and was hired as an administrator at Mount Sinai Hospital in Hartford. In a relatively short period, she had proven herself repeatedly and became a valued asset. Her beautiful smile and French accent complemented her magnetic personality and her natural ability to engage people and resolve conflicts. Marie was promoted to Risk Manager and was routinely called upon to settle disputes and clarify complicated situations when away from the office. After her diagnosis in 1997, Marie began her long journey of treatments and healing while maintaining a very active career. That same year and in 1998 she was deemed a “Super Responder” after successfully completing not one, but two stem cell transplant trials administered by Yale New Haven at Saint Francis Hospital. Marie was determined to survive and endured each day with grace and poise. She set a goal to continue sharing her life with her loved ones, colleagues, and patients. The birth of her first grandchild, Kelly, came in 1998 and motivated her more than any other force imaginable. Marie was an active and engaging Grammy to her three little ones and was always ready for trips to the library, board games, and sing-a-longs. Marie managed her illness privately and continued to work taking each challenge in stride. After Mount Sinai Hospital merged with Saint Francis Hospital, Marie saw an enormous opportunity and once again rose to achieve more responsibility within a larger Risk Management Department at the new location. Saint Francis became her new “home” and after years of dedicated service she retired in 2008. In recent years Marie frequently returned to Saint Francis for treatments and was always touched by the special care and consideration she received from the physicians, technicians, nurses, aides, and staff. Throughout her journey she was supportive of those around her and made sure to lessen the burden of others with gentle reminders, “I can fight this fight¿please do not be sad for me.” Marie constantly reminded her husband Raj and family that she was going to be okay no matter the outcome and that their love and presence were healing in and of themselves. Marie became a mentor and guide for women battling cancer, even her own daughter, and would counsel those new to this disease providing both education and encouragement. Marie did not lose a battle, she did not finish a race¿her time came and she elegantly exited the party. She is forever cherished by her husband Raj Kapoor of Granby, two daughters Catherine Garber and her husband Frank of Burlington and Sabine Zell and her husband David of Simsbury; three grandchildren, Kelly Garber, Jennifer Garber, and Nicholas Zell. She also leaves a brother, Ferdinand Gaule and his family of Belgium. Her family wishes to thank Dr. Susan Rabinowe and Dr. Beth Nelson for being ever present friends and champions. Marie’s services will be privately held and memorial donations in her honor made to Saint Francis Hospital by visiting http://www.saintfrancisdonor.com/Giving/Ways_to_Give/

**Information provided by Catherine and Sabine and written by Wendy Smith Thames, funeral director of Carmon’s Funeral Home in Windsor, CT.

Cold Mountain

Some excerpts that move me.

…but he did believe that there is a world invisible to us. He [Inman] no longer thought of that world as heaven, nor did he still think that we get to go there when we die.  Those teaching had been burned away.  But he still could not abide by a universe composed only of what he could see, especially when it was frequently foul.  So he held onto the idea of another world, a better place…

“The comeliest order on earth but is a heap of random sweepings.”

Nature, Inman was fully aware, sometimes calls attention to its special features and recommends them for interpretation.

The Tennessee boy peered up at the start so indicated and said, How do you know its name is Rigel.-I read it in a book, Inman said. -Then that’s just a name we give it, the boy said.  It ain’t God’s name. Inman had thought on the same issue a minute and then said, How would you ever come to know God’s name for that star? -You wouldn’t, He holds it close, the boy said.  It’s a thing you’ll never know.  It’s a lesson that sometimes we’re meant to settle for ignorance.  Right there’s what mostly comes from knowledge, the boy said, tipping his chin out at the broken land, apparently not even finding it worthy of sweeping a hand across its contours in a sigh of dismissal.  At the time, Inman had thought the boy a fool and had remained content to know our name for Orion’s principal star and to let God keep His dark secret.  But now he wondered if the boy might have had a point about knowledge, or at least some varieties of it.

Monroe [Ada’s father] would have dismissed such beliefs as superstition, folklore.  But Ada, increasingly covetous of Ruby’s learning in the ways living things inhabited this particular place, chose to view the signs as metaphoric.  They were, as Ada saw them, an expression of stewardship, a means of taking care, a discipline.  They provided a ritual of concern for the patterns and tendencies of the material world.  Ultimately, she decided, the signs were a way of being alert, and under those terms she could honor them.

When three crows harried a hawk across the sky, Ruby expressed her great respect for the normally reviled crow, finding much worthy of emulation in their outlook on life.  She noted with disapproval that many a bird would die rather than eat any but food it relishes.  Crows will relish what presents itself.  She admired their keenness of wit, lack of pridefullness, love of practical jokes, slyness in a fight.  All of these she saw as making up the genius of crow, which was a kind of willed mastery over what she assumed was a natural inclination toward bile and melancholy, as evidenced by its drear plumage.-We might all take instruction from crow, Ruby said pointedly, for Ada was clearly in something of a mood, the lifting of which lagged considerably behind the fairing sky.

-What are you doing up here? she said aloud to the heron.  But she knew by the look of him that his nature was anchorite and mystic.  Like all of his kind, he was a solitary pilgrim, strange in his ways and governed by no policy or creed common to flocking birds.  Ada wondered that herons could tolerate each other close enough to breed.  She had seen a scant number in her life, and those so lonesome as to make the heart sting on their behalf.  Exile birds.  Everywhere they were seemed far from home.

-I wish I had something to pay you with, Inman said. – I might not have took it anyway, the man said.

There were crows in the limbs above him, three of them, and the were harrying a rat snake  they had discovered up in the tree.  They sat on the limbs above the snake.  They sat on the limbs above the snake and grabbed at it, and now and again one flew close by and feinted at it with glinting bill.  The snake made the customary vicious displays of its kind, erecting itself and hooding out its neck and hissing and striking as if it were deadly.  But all its efforts were met with hilarity and ridicule by the crows, and the snake soon departed. The crows stayed on through much of the afternoon, celebrating their victory.  Inman watched them anytime his eyes were open, observing closely their deportment and method of expression.  And when his eyes were closed, he dreamed he lived in a kind of world where if a man wished it he could think himself to crow form, so that, though filled with dark error, he still had power either to fly from enemies or laugh them away.  Then, after awhile of passing time in such wise, Inman watched night fall, and it seemed to him as if the crows had swelled out to blacken everything.

Ruby pressed her lips to the velvet nose of the horse and then backed off an inch and opened her mouth wide an blew out a deep slow breath into its flanged nostrils.  The dispatch sent by such a gesture, she believed, concerned an understanding between them.  What it said was that she and Ralph [horse] were of like minds on the issue at hand.  You settled horses’ thinking that way.  They took it as a message to let down from their usual state of high nerves.  You could calm white-eyed horses with such a companionable breath.

News of the World: A Novel

Some excerpts that move me.

More than ever knowing in his fragile bones that it was the duty of men who aspired to the condition of humanity to protect children and kill for them if necessary.

Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we have just one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says; it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand through a life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed.

native Americans looked not at the color of skin but at the intentions, the body posture, the language of hands. That was how they stayed alive.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Some excerpts that move me.

She smacked her palms together to shuck off the damp grit and viewed the corpse of the fallen monster.  The tree was intact, not cut or broken by wind.  What a waste.  After maybe centuries of survival it had simply let go of the ground, the wide fist of its root mass ripped up and resting naked above a clay gash in the wooded mountainside.  Like herself, it just seemed to have come loose from its station in life.  After so much rain upon rain this was happening all over the county, she’d seen it in the paper massive trees keeling over in the night to ravage a family’s roof line.

She was on her own here, staring at the glowing trees [monarch butterflies].  Fascination curled itself around her fright.  This was no forest fire.  She was pressed by the quiet elation of escape and knowing better and seeing straight through the back of herself, in solitude.  She couldn’t remember when she’d had such room for being.  It looked like the inside of joy, if a person could see that.  A valley of light, an ethereal wind.  It had to mean something.

They must have some good reason; animals behaved with purpose, ti seemed.  Unlike people.

They all sat quietly for a long time.  Dellarobia had ridden out prayer meetings aplenty, but had no idea what to say to a family that had lost their world, including the mountain under they feet and the butterflies of the air. [Dellarobia’s son, Preston, invites his schoolmate, Josefina, and her parents to visit and they tell her of the mudslides in Mexico and the butterflies losing their habitat in the lost trees.]

[About a pull toy phone that Dellarobia’s daughter, Cordelia, is playing with.] “Why would she talk into it?  She doesn’t know it’s a telephone.”  Hester [Della’s mother-in-law] wouldn’t get this, of course.  In her eyes it was a phone and that was that.  Dellarobia could barely get it herself.  She’d seen something so plainly in this toy that was fully invisible to her child, two realities existing side by side.  It floored her ti be one of the people seeing the world as it used to be.  While the kids shoved on.

So how did it that an outsider [Ovid (scientist)] just get to come in here and declare the whole event a giant mistake.  These people had everything.  Education, good looks, boots whose price tag equaled her husband’s last paycheck.  Now the butterflies were theirs too.

Her husband’s family could kick the out and tear down the trees and the butterflies uncounted, at the snap of a finger.  There were two worlds here, behaving as if their own was all that mattered.  With such reluctance to converse, one with the other.  Piratically without a common language.

Her every possession was either unbreakable, or broken.

Every disaster proved useful for someone.

Dellarobia thought of the wooden ornaments her father made years ago, which must still exist somewhere.  What a complicated life cycle those must hav the point of so many storeis.  Jack London and Ernest e passed through: attic boxes, funeral upheavals, yard sales.  Like an insect going through its stages, all aimed in the end toward flying away.

[Dovey]  “Will you explain to me why people encourage delusional behavior in children, and medicate it in adults?  That’s so random.  It’s like this whole shady setup.”

So much human effort went into the alteration of nonessential components.  Especially for women, it could not be denied.

“I don’t see why you’re not just going for this.”  [Dovey]  “You are a rocket.  You go for things, Dellarobia.  That is you.  when did you ever not?”  Dellarobia shut her eyes.  “When there was nothing out there to land on, I guess.”  “Now see, that’s a woman thing.  Men and kids just light out and fly, without even worrying about what comes next.”

The butterflies had no choice but to trust in their world of signs, the sun’s angle set against the turn if the seasons, and something inside all that had betrayed them.

…but you couldn’t stand up and rail against the weather.  That was exactly exactly the point of so many stories.  Jack London and Ernest Hemingway, confidence staggering into the storm: Man against Nature.  Of all the possible conflicts, that was the one that was hopeless.  Even slim education had taught her this much: Man loses.

She was tired of telling people to put on clothes.  If her children and husband couldn’t figure out it was winter, the world would still turn.

It occurred to her how much was obscured in summer by the leaves.  With all those reassuring walls of green, a person could not see to the end of anything.  Summer was the season of denial.

If people played their channels right, they could be spared from disagreement for the rest of their lives.  Finally she got it.  The need for so many channels.

Every loss she’d ever borne had been declared the Lord’s business.  A stillborn child, a father dead in his prime.  “So we just take what comes?” she asked.  “People used to say the same thing whenever some disease came along and killed all the children.  ‘It’s part of God’s plan.’  Now we give them vaccinations.  Is that defying God?”

“Well,” she said.  “I guess seeing is believing.”  “Refusing to look at the evidence, this is also popular.”  “It’s not that we’re all just lazy-minded.”  She struggled to articulate her defense.  On first sight, she’d taken these butterflies for fire and magic.  Monarchs were nowhere in her mind.  “People can only see things they already recognize, ” she said.  “They’ll see it if they know it.”

Flying from pillar to post.  Strange words. … “Little hopes, you know?  There’s just no room at our house for the end of the world.

“You do everything you can,” she said.  “And then, I guess, everything you can’t.  You keep doing, so your heart won’t stop.”

“Information is all we have.  Everyone chooses.  A person can face up to a difficult truth, or run away from it.”

Dellarobia was not sure what she’d meant, beyond the impossible idea of returning to her previous self.  The person who’d lit out one day to shed an existence that felt about the size of one of those plastic eggs that pantyhose came in.  From that day on, week by week, the size of her life had doubled out.

She made herself breathe slowly, feeling numb.  It was an earthquake, an upheaval of buried surfaces in which nothing was added or taken away.  Her family was still her family, an alliance of people at odds, surviving like any other by turning the everyday blind eye.  But someone had seen the whole thing.

That must be lonely, Dellarobia thought, to have answers whose questions had all died of natural causes.  The trees were skinnier here and  the woods more open, though still as varied as any standing congregation of human beings.

And even while he [Ovid] warned her of these caveats, Dellarobia felt a settling down of her lifelong plague of impatience.  He did not claim that God moves in mysterious ways.  Instead he seemed to believe, as she did, though they never could have discussed it, that everything else is in motion while God does not move at all.  God sits still, perfectly at rest, the silver dollar at the bottom of the well, the question.

Dellarobia watched Josefina lay out her complicated lunch without self-consciousness on a cloth napkin, and wondered what it would feel like to be in that kind of a family.  Or any kind, other than the one whose walls contained her.  Whatever incentive she might have for flying away, there it was, family, her own full measure, surrounded by a cheap wire fence built one afternoon a long time ago.

It was hard to feel the remotest sympathy for any of the different fools she had been.  As opposed to the fool she was probably being now.  People hang on for dear life to that one, she thought: the fool they are right now.

Sorry, Ben. Sorry, Jerry.

one of the side effects of chemotherapy is the severely impacted sense of taste. it’s not that i can’t taste foods, it’s that foods taste wrong — bitter and/or metallic. i no longer enjoy one of my favorite pastimes — eating – which is not such a bad thing. and 2 of my best and closest friends (Ben & Jerry) are no longer talking to me because i told them that their ice-cream (all their flavors are my favorites, by the way) tastes AWFUL lately. on the ever present bright side? thank you Taxotere and Carboplatin for kicking the shit out of cancer cells. 🙂 i will tolerate this for a few more months… 🙂