May 2021: Naples Botanical Gardens: Part 7

I walked in the Garden of Eden and found the serpent. Oh yes, I did. We all know the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent and the ruin he created. Today’s walk is through the orchid garden at the Naples Botanical Gardens. A place that I could have spent more time and money in if Richard had not been edging out. Added to that to buy plants and take them back to the hotel to care for may have been a bit too much.

A little bit about my love for orchids. Orchids have been a hobby in my family for years. My father had a huge shade house full of orchids, of which the more exotic ones were probably purchased by me. I loved to find the different looking orchids. This is my happy place, that keeps me close to my father. When Richard suddenly got sick my office sent me the most beautiful orchid that was in full bloom. It has lasted from February until this past weekend. Slowly the blooms are starting to die. But added to that a whole bunch of my orchids started to bloom and I felt like my dad was just wrapping his arms around me and hugging silently in his way.

Not only did my dad, grow orchids, but his older brother had a huge shade house and my favorite orchids to find there were the slipper orchids, of which you will see a few in the bottom. I do not have one but I am on the look out. My cousin has fantastic green fingers as well.

In addition, another of his brothers and his sister pottered around with their orchids as well. My mom also had a cousin that lived near to me in my first home and grew the most beautiful Cymbidium orchids. He provided my orchids for my wedding bouquet many years ago.

Recently I have begun to develop my own collection of orchids. We live on a small piece of land so there will be no big shade house, but I love seeing their beauty in my home.

The first three orchids remind me of Hippie orchids and I know that I have to buy at least one of them in the future. Apparently they are called Miltonia orchids and are often referred to as “pansy” orchids. They require moderate temperatures and bright indirect sunlight

The orchid below is called a Grammatophyllum orchid. These orchids like early morning sunlight and grow well in moderate light intensity. This species is normally yellow and brown.

Oncidium Orchids, or otherwise known as the “Dancing Lady” was another one of my favorite orchids in my dad’s shade house. Oncidium orchids bloom in the fall and usually prefer a cooler environment, although they do like moisture and humidity. I think that when I get one I will be keeping it inside the house. That is about the only place that is cool-ish.

The orchid below appears to be an Encyclia orchid also known as a “cockleshell” orchid. They have an octopus like shape and will bloom for several consecutive months.

I will confess I could be wrong here but I believe this is an Dendrobium orchid and one of about 1800 species. The tend to prefer cooler temperatures and less humidity.

I believe that this may also be part of the Encyclia orchid family.

A variety of Vanda Orchids to choose from. I have an orange, a brown and a yellow Vanda in my collection. Vanda orchids are well known for their fragrance. They require lots of light and humidity but my tag said no direct sunlight. I have just hung them on the fence in the shade. Hopefully they will grow well.

And I mentioned that while in the Garden of Eden, or the orchid house, I found myself face to face with the serpent. Yes, there I was photographing the flower obliviously, when I happened to look down. You have to know that snakes are not on my favorite list of things to run into. But here was the serpent and I did not hesitate to photograph him. I do believe that this snake is known as a Black Racer. And while the web tells me that they are non venomous, a snake is a snake and really not my friend.

Once again, I believe that this may also be part of the Encyclia orchid family.

I have read that the Black Racer can get quite large and I am glad that this was just a wee little snake, or I might have been running in the opposite direction. Like my father, I do not like snakes. Only problem is that my mother is not around to get rid of them like she did for my dad. I hear you laughing, but it really was no laughing matter, if my dad spotted a snake, the first person he called on was my mother. The poor snake did not stand a chance.

Cypripedium Parviflorum or the commonly known yellow slipper orchid, is what I think this is. What I love about this orchid is that I can clearly see a face in the body of the orchid. I do see faces in all sorts of things and apparently that is called Pareidolia. According to Wikipedia “Pareidolia is the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous visual stimulus. Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations. ” I am amazed at how many faces I see in things.

I believe the orchid below is called a Cypripedioideae orchid and it is definitely part of the Slipper Orchid family

The Phalaenopsis orchid is the most common in South Florida, however, there are so many different verities of colors and patterns that each one is uniquely beautiful. Currently I have about 15 Phalaenopsis orchids. As a rule Phalaenopsis orchids love defused lighting and moderate humidity. I have kept all of mine inside the patio in the shade. “Phallies” typically flower all year round.

Orchid growing is another outdoor hobby which I have come to realize that this is not something I can really ask Richard to help me with, given that he really should not be in the sun. So last weekend I set up my table on the grass and repotted my 25 orchids. That gave me a healthy respect for horticulturist like my cousin who has won many gold awards at the Chelsea Garden show, or someone like my dad or my uncle who is just a hobbyist. There is a lot of work to keeping the orchids healthy.

As we spend time in the sun I just want to remind you that the sun in Florida is super strong. Make sure to put on your sunscreen. Wear sunglasses and use a hat to protect your face. If you have any form of skin cancer or like Richard, melanoma, then make sure you are wearing UV protective clothing when you are out in the sun. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. Make sure that you are checking your body for moles that look different., or a mole that may worry you. Melanoma, we are told can spill over and travel from a mole site to another organ and go dormant for years. In Richard’s case it was 34 years before the melanoma made itself evident again. Take Care of yourselves. Prevention is better than trying to cure Stage 4 cancer.

This is my last post for the Naples Botanical Gardens. I hope you enjoyed them. The adventure is still not over. Look out for the post on Monday on the Cape Romano Dome house. I loved seeing this unique house in the middle of nowhere. Check it out on Monday.

Thank you for joining me. You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

May 2021: Naples Botanical Gardens: Part 6

This is just a fun little post. After we left the Asian garden we came across a circle of creatures and Richard joined the ring. While all the animals are joined together in a circle, for photograph purposes I took the liberty of separating them so that I did not see random arms. My removal of the other limbs may not be perfect, but I loved showing each one alone where I could.

Sometimes you just have to have a little bit of fun. Life has been so stressful these past months. I loved that he was able to just relax enough to be silly. This is what life is all about. Enjoying the moments, while we still have them.

Being African we really related to the Giraffe and Elephant. They are like home away from home.

Also another hot country when we get down to it. Summers can be brutal, just like Florida. So just a reminder, the sun in Florida is super strong. Make sure to put on your sunscreen. Wear sunglasses and use a hat to protect your face. If you have any form of skin cancer or like Richard, melanoma, then make sure you are wearing UV protective clothing when you are out in the sun. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. Make sure that you are checking your body for moles that look different., or a mole that may worry you. Melanoma, we are told can spill over and travel from a mole site to another organ and go dormant for years. In Richard’s case it was 34 years before the melanoma made itself evident again. Take Care of yourselves. Prevention is better than trying to cure Stage 4 cancer.

Thank you for joining me. You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

May 2021: Naples Botanical Gardens: Part 5

This section of the garden was closed off but very interesting. I will confess I am not sure I would want to walk through there in my dreams. Seriously scroll down a bit and look at the guy’s teeth. That’s kind of downright scary. This was not part of the Asian garden as per the website but we passed by it heading to the final gardens. Definitely very very interesting.

Beyond the area above we walked through another area that appears to have been part of the Asian Gardens. More water lily and statues. I have to confess I love water lily and I could see myself having a pond with these gorgeous flowers on them.

If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover as you walk around out in the sun, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. At this point we have no idea if the medication Richard is on is working, so each day has become a memory making day.

Thank you for joining me. You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

May 2021: Naples botanical Garden: Part 4

When I last left off we were in the area that showcased the plants native to Florida with their beautiful waterfalls.

Today we are walking through the Enabling Gardens and heading through the water lily Gardens. Lastly we visited the Asian Gardens. The Enabling Gardens was a garden that showcased various gardening techniques from growing tomatoes, to various plants. The enabling gardens depicts gardening in raised beds so that the elderly, who love to garden, don’t have to get down on the floor level to weed the flower or vegetable bed. I am all for that at my age. It also showcases the option of sitting and wheelchair gardening. I loved the various choices that this garden had to give.

Moving beyond the enabling garden we moved towards the lily ponds with their vibrant and beautiful colors. Once again we saw beautiful depictions of roots in the metal artwork form.

Lastly we headed towards the Asian Gardens with their vibrant colors and beautiful and peaceful resting places. Richard found a bench where he waited for me while I was sidetracked.

I love to meander around the gardens. It takes time. We are out in the sun enjoying the beauty and to be honest forgetting about the heat that is bearing down on us. The sun in Florida is super strong. Make sure to put on your sunscreen. Wear sunglasses and use a hat to protect your face. If you have any form of skin cancer or like Richard, melanoma, then make sure you are wearing UV protective clothing when you are out in the sun. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. Make sure that you are checking your body for moles that look different., or a mole that may worry you. Melanoma, we are told can spill over and travel from a mole site to another organ and go dormant for years. In Richard’s case it was 34 years before the melanoma made itself evident again. Take Care of yourselves. Prevention is better than trying to cure Stage 4 cancer.

Thank you for joining me. You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

May 2021: Naples Botanical Gardens: Part 2

Leaving the Caribbean Gardens we moved along through the River of Grass area towards the Karen and Robert Scott Florida Garden that features plants that are native to Florida and also plants from around the world that grow and thrive in the Florida Climate. The paths meander through this beautiful vegetation past man made water falls, and thatched roof huts. I don’t know the names of the plants but so many caught my attention.

Again the image of roots in amongst the garden were evident.

Gorgeous colors and beautiful Phalaenopsis could be seen growing from the trees.

The wildflowers made me think of happy faces blowing in the wind.

There were man made waterfalls in the gardens which lent to a very restful stop.

There is so much to capture your interest along your pathway. Vibrant colors and beautiful flowers. Scenic pathways and softly falling water. This was definitely a treat.

Just a reminder, the sun in Florida is super strong. Make sure to put on your sunscreen. Wear sunglasses and use a hat to protect your face. If you have any form of skin cancer or like Richard, melanoma, then make sure you are wearing UV protective clothing when you are out in the sun. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. Make sure that you are checking your body for moles that look different., or a mole that may worry you. Melanoma, we are told can spill over and travel from a mole site to another organ and go dormant for years. In Richard’s case it was 34 years before the melanoma made itself evident again. Take Care of yourselves. Prevention is better than trying to cure Stage 4 cancer.

Thank you for joining me. You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

May 2021: Naples Botanical Gardens Part 3

I left off at the Brazilian section of the gardens in my last post. Today we venture into the Caribbean Gardens.

The garden shows off the plant life of the Caribbean plantations rich with fruits such as banana plants, papaya plants. There is also succulents and cacti. Richard found a bench to hang out on while he was waiting for me.

Walk with me through this gorgeous garden and enjoy the beautiful creation of nature.

This Anhinga was set perfectly out on the lake sun tanning his wings. Anhinga are interesting. The are often known as a snake bird because that is all you see when they come up for air while fishing for their food. Once the bird is finished fishing it needs to find a place to dry it’s wings before it can fly any distance.

I spotted this pair of Osprey high up on the pole.

While I was busy taking photos, Richard walked ahead to find a shady spot to sit and wait.

Cacti that we found along the way.

As I mentioned before, Roots appear to be the artistic theme in the gardens right now and this is just another beautiful example of what we got to see.

The Caribbean gardens has this beautiful oolite pergola which held me up for a while.

Moving through the garden, Richard was diligent to keep his hat on and look for shady spots to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Before we headed out to the gardens, he lathered himself with Factor 50 sunscreen. We wanted to be able to enjoy this time together in the gardens.

If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. At this point we have no idea if the medication Richard is on is working, so each day has become a memory making day.

Thank you for joining us. Look back for postings of the previous days.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: June 2021: Negative Space

It was my turn to choose this month and I decided to choose {Negative Space}. I am not sure if I related to the topic because our year so far has just been so negative or just because I really like the style of photography. If you read the previous two blogs you will know that we have decided to work on our bucket list of things we want to do. So we headed to Naples, Florida for a short 2 night away vacation.

I was not consciously thinking about negative space while we were in Naples, but I did manage to shoot a few of what I thought would fit the theme. The gardens were so peaceful and I thoroughly enjoyed walking around them.

According to Wikipedia Negative Space is “Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject of an image.” So here is my take on the {Negative Space} theme.

The next image was taken during a walk in the wetlands. I love to get down low with the boardwalk railings and shoot whatever is lying on them. This was an interesting combination of possible leaves, flower and some mucky looking stuff.

The image below is taken out in the garden after the rain. We have these rather annoying multcolored leaves all over the back garden which drop their leaves when they die. Ever since I had to be invested in the garden I have been trying to catch these leaves before they hit the floor and make a mess. However, when it rains the leaves hold perfect waterdrops, and often the colors are just so soothing.

And last but not least, this image was taken in my “home studio” which is made up of backing board and a few lights. Every so often I will buy fresh flowers and wait for them to die. I love the different shapes that they take.

This is my take on {Negative Space}. I know that we would love to see yours. It has been nice to get out and get away and think about something else rather than, health, life and what tomorrow brings. Nature is a soothing balm and a weekend away was just what we needed.

We have always been outdoorsy people. We have lived to be in nature. Life and death, has suddenly become very relevant in our lives right now as we focus on Richard’s health. If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. Each day has become a memory making day.

This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly artistic friend Ceri Herd Photography is up next is up next. I can wait to see what she has to share as I have seen some of her work recently and love it. I would encourage to have a look at what she has to offer. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook page or Instagram page.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_light inspired

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Tell me a story: May 2021

Day two of the short trip away to Naples, Florida. I like to walk in nature. My brother is a big fan of botanical gardens and when ever he is here we tend to try and visit one. Some are great others, maybe not so much. However, since we had a gap in our day, and this came recommended, I suggested that we do the Naples Botanical Garden. It certainly met and exceeded my expectations. I will probably split this into 2 or 3 blogs because there is just so much to see.

First stop was the route to the Brazilian Gardens designed by Raymond Jungles, and it introduces various plants that are native to Brazil. The walk heads up to to the beautiful waterfall and a gorgeous colorful mosaic wall, as shown below. There also appeared to have some kind of root artwork theme staged throughout the gardens. I wish there was a directory of plants so that I could share names but sadly there isn’t. Enjoy your walk through the first part of the garden.

The water lilies were beautiful and staggered around the gardens.
Fortunately I had the smaller of my zoom lens and was able to catch this Blue Dasher Dragonfly on the lily.
Richard tended to walk ahead of me and find a spot out of the sun to sit and wait. This one was not out of the sun but I loved the color in the background. This is 8 days after treatment, and it leaves his skin looking a little red. A new addition to the clothing line is a big hat.
I have no idea what this tree is but I found this nodules of growth really facinating.
Keeping the sun off his face is now part of the day to day routine, or it should be. He was really good this weekend about wearing the hat and putting on sunscreen.
This was another plant that I really found captured my attention. It was like a water reed, but has a type of bamboo feel about it as well.
The art was not small and this one towered over us.

Join me for the next post of the Naples Botanical Garden in a couple of days. I am going to be heading to the Caribbean part.

If you are interested in reading about Day 1 in Naples Florida, then click here and enjoy our sunset cruise.

If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. At this point we have no idea if the medication Richard is on is working, so each day has become a memory making day.

Thank you for joining me this month.  This is a circle blog so take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Lupji of LUPJi Photography is up next. I look forward to reading what he has to share.

30 Minutes in the Life: May 2021

Life has become day by day. It is precious and moments are not to be wasted. Given that we do not know what the time frame looks like we have opted to make the most of it. We both have a lot of vacation to take this year or we loose it. So for the month of May we decided to take a short 3 day vacation to Naples, Florida.

I am not sure that we have ever stayed there before but I left Richard to do all the planning. The only input was that perhaps we consider heading to the Naples Botanical Garden on our second day when we did not have a whole lot of plans.

Wednesday we headed out. From our home is is about a 2 hour drive across Alligator Alley. Short, quick, and before we knew it we were there. Richard booked into Cove Inn. The room sat on the edge of the waterway, and it came with a room, kitchenette, bathroom and a balcony. Only change I would make would be to go to an upper level. Our balcony looked more to the boats than the bay. That said the place was perfect for what we needed.

Once we had settled in, we did a 30 minute walk down town to the historical district. We wanted to check out restaurants and breakfast places. Turns out that Cove Inn had it’s own breakfast place and it was more than adequate for us. Extra large eggs means you get three instead of 2 even though it is a 2 egg breakfast. Below is a cell pic of some of the Cove from the dock across the way, where our sailing ship would leave from.

One of the purposes for going out there was that Richard wanted to get back out on the water. Planning is a little more challenging now. We both love the sun, but he has been told to stay out of the sun. It is hard. Your default is that you want to go back out and do all the things we have done for the last 34 years.

We planned a sunset cruise. So today’s blog is about getting back out on the water. However, Richard has factor 50 sun screen on, a factor 50 shirt and a hat. All things that we did not think about before. It was a perfect sky and I was convinced I could see a bird in these clouds.

We are ready for our cruise. Just a few steps away from our room, was a restaurant called The Dock. We chose to go there for dinner before heading out on our cruise.

Dinner was a share of calamari and mussels. Filling for both of us and done in time for us to settle the bill and leave to walk down the dock to our boat. The Sweet Liberty crew do not offer drinks and snacks on board but you were able to bring your own. While the boat was not full to capacity, there were enough people on it. We headed to the back where we shared space with a couple from Nashville. If I have to say anything negative, it was that a young girl was on the boat with her entourage, doing a photoshoot. So every where you moved you kept tripping over a model, her mother, a camera man, and 6 other people. Beyond that the boat ride was perfect.

The cruise itself was so enjoyable. The captain was informative and his crew got the sails up and had us under wind power and on our way. Heading out to the ocean, I think they took us on the scenic route through the waterways. It was a lot shorter coming back. Like the east coast the waterways are lined with big, fancy houses and impressive boats.

I was pretty impressed with the clouds and the formations in the sky, that was until sunset and then it was too much.

My thirty minutes officially ends here but I am going to continue so I get all the images from our cruise together. The picture below is looking to Marco Island and I will share more about that in a few days.

It was so good to see Richard smiling and enjoying the outdoors, wind in his face, and the smell of sea and factor 50 sunscreen. I find myself wanting to take images where ever and when ever I can because I don’t know what tomorrow may bring.

Our cruise is over but we have more planned. Check out our walk through the Botanical Garden on the Thursday, and our boat ride on the Friday through the 10 000 island and towards Marco Island. One of the views that really impressed me was the dome houses, so look out for that blog.

If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. At this point we have no idea if the medication Richard is on is working, so each day has become a memory making day.

Thank you for joining me for another 30 Minutes in the Life. This is a circle blog. It’s a small circle this month. Please follow the link to see what my very talented friend Kim, of This One Ordinary Life, has to share this month.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Melanoma: An Unexpected Journey

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Do you wonder what tomorrow may bring? I am feeling both. It has taken me a while to put the words to paper, but I feel that if this makes a difference in one person’s life, then sharing Richard’s story will have made a difference.

February 15th, 2021, became a day that changed our world. One of my worst nightmares came back to haunt us and we do not know where this journey is taking us.

Lets back up a bit. 34 years ago, newly married and living in South Africa. Our dreams are ahead of us, our future is ours to make.

18 months into our marriage, Richard scratched a mole on his back. For whatever reason it was not healing. I suggested he see a dermatologist. Like me, he tends to not want to see doctors. We have an ostrich philosophy. Bury our heads in the sand and it will go away. The dermatologist removed the mole and Richard headed home. All was good, until it wasn’t.

The call came for him to go back and see the dermatologist. The outer areas of the cut showed signs of melanoma cells. The area they had cut was too small.

So he headed back, they did a bigger cut, and then they did a skin graft. The doctor showed me how to clean it. I thought I would loose my stomach. I almost did. I remember thinking “I am not a nurse, I don’t know how to do this”

The pathology on the mole came back melanoma.

34 years ago is a long time. I don’t remember all my emotions, but I remember the fear. I remember the disbelief. I remember thinking we have just started out life together. I remember praying for his life.

I was 24 years old, we had our lives planned, where did we go from here?

Richard had treatment for the mole, radiation. All seemed good. Life carried on, until it stopped.

One year later he felt a lump under his arm. A trip to the doctor indicated that the melanoma had spread. All of his lymph nodes were removed. He went back for radiation and therapy. Everything under his arm was killed including the hair growth.

For 5 years we lived with the melanoma in the background. With the fear that it may come back. Each year Richard went back for checkup, and each year he got a clear report. After 5 years we were told that he did not need to come back anymore. For all intents and purposes he was cancer free. We could move on.

Richard and I both grew up in a coastal town. He surfed, did body boarding, loved to be in the waves. He was a runner, ran a marathon, canoed the Duzi (a well known South African river canoeing competition). He cycled, windsurfed, sailed a dingy, played soccer.

We camped through Europe, scuba dived South Africa and Mozambique, camped in game parks, slept in a cave, hiked in the mountains, and spent many a day on the beach. Our life was outdoors.

We watched our children grow. In 2001 we emigrated to the USA. Home away from home. The climate was the same hot humid weather. We had the beach. We had brought all of our camping equipment with us. We planned to play as much as we worked, and we had the perfect climate to do that. To be transparent, we were in the sun a good deal of our lives. Jamaica was a fine example of being exposed to the sun, and to be honest loving it.

In October 2020, the year of Covid, our European plans were killed and so we headed with the family to the mountains. We had a cottage in the middle of nowhere on the top of a mountain. We hiked, we climbed, we explored, we even took in a wine farm. Richard was healthy and energetic, and it was a great de-stressor after the year we had had. He wanted to do more hikes, I wanted to slow down. It was a good time for the family to be away together.

November 2020 brought a change in his life, while mine carried on as normal. He complained he had a bloated feeling in his stomach. Then he was feeling pains in his stomach. He saw a GI guy and did the standard colonoscopy and endoscopy. Still nothing. Christmas was a nightmare of good and bad days. For me to see Richard lying on a recliner chair with a blanket over him for days on end was not the norm. He is the energizer bunny, on the go all the time. By now he had lost about 25 pounds and was suffering from dizziness due to low iron levels. I had begun feeding him liver to try and boost his iron.

In February 2021, Richard was set to have a CT scan to try and establish what was going on. Our insurance declined to pay for the CT scan. I was frustrated and fearful, because his pain was real. Richard is not one to fake pain. At that point I told him to go to the ER. He did. I dropped him off at the ER but was basically told I can wait in my car or I can come back when he was done. I felt alone, frustrated and I felt like I was abandoning him, while not knowing what was going on. Little did I know what tomorrow would bring.

In the ER he explained the pain he was having. They took him for a CT scan of his stomach. They took him back for a second scan of his lung. The started asking him for his medical history. I am communicating with him by text. Next thing he says, “they want to do a MRI of my brain”. My first thought is what does your brain have to do with stomach pain.

Then he text me, “I am staying in, they are doing surgery tomorrow, they are talking melanoma, there are 3 blockages in my small intestine and they spotted something on my lung”.

My heart dropped. Our world changed. 34 years later Richard has been diagnosed with multiple melanoma in his small intestine and one in his lung. Thankfully they could not pick up anything in the other organs or in the brain. If you do not know, it appears melanoma from a mole, can spill over and go dormant for years. In Richard’s case, 34 years.

I am going to continue to blog this story. I am going to continue to share what we are going through. Some is good, some not so good. Emotions, transparency, moments of joy and laughter and moments when the only place to cry is in the bathroom.

If this makes a difference to one person, this story will be worth telling. Remember the story comes from the caregivers side. I cannot even begin to share what Richard is going through. My husband amazes me. His strength and his character is unbelievable. But it has to be hard to be the person dealing with this, because I know as the caregiver, I have had my breaking moments.

If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. At this point we have no idea if the medication Richard is on is working, so each day has become a memory making day.

Stay well, live wise, and enjoy the moments life has to give you.