The Influence of True Love
by Mackenzie Crowne
Hello. My name is Mackenzie Crowne. Mac to my friends. I’m a romance author. One of eight kids - yeah, I said eight - I was raised in a middle-class, Irish Catholic clan. I’m also a five year, stage III breast cancer survivor. I was honored when SMP invited me to share a bit about my lighthearted survivor’s guide Where Would You Like Your Nipple? I immediately began crafting a piece on early detection because I’ve seen first hand, the benefits of catching this senseless disease in its early stages. But if I learned anything from my battle to survive, it’s that life throws you curve balls. This week, life threw my clan a big one when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time.
Mom is a funny, strong, pragmatic woman, but at eighty-three, her health is already on shaky ground. Consequently, many of the debilitating treatments that allowed me to beat breast cancer, simply aren’t available to her. Like the strong woman she is, she’s taking the diagnosis in stride. My youngest sister has been caring for her the past several years, and when she sat her down to tell her about the diagnosis, Mom replied, “Oh, thank God. I thought you were going to tell me you’d wrecked the car.”That’s my mom. As you can imagine, my mind is full of her and all she’s been to me throughout my life. Babysitter, nursemaid, teacher and cheerleader. She and my dad encouraged us all to chase our dreams. My dream was writing. So, how does a chick from a middle-class, Catholic upbringing end up writing romance, you ask? Simple. I had a front row seat to a world class love story from the day I was born.
I admit to not always appreciating the experience. I mean, can you imagine how embarrassing it is for a teenager to witness her father patting mom’s butt in appreciation as she passes by him in the kitchen? Gross! But as a grown woman, the memory of the sparks that flew between the two of them, well into their golden years, reinforces my belief in true love. And where true love exists, it can’t be contained in the souls of two. It spills out to enrich the lives of others like a living force. I can attest to the fact that it spilled out to me and my siblings, but it also touched others, like the local florist in my parents’ town.
Every year, a few days before my parents’ wedding anniversary, Dad would stop by the little shop. A jovial man, who referred to himself as the fat Irishman with eight kids, he lived his days with humor and hope, and made friends wherever he went. The florist was no exception. Like his yearly order of carnations (Mom’s choice. Carnations last - and they’re cheap. I told you she was pragmatic) the conversation went pretty much the same way every time. “I need some flowers for What’s-her-name,” he’d say. The florist would laugh and hand over a tiny card on which he would pen a cheesy poem beginning with Roses are Red, Violets are Blue. I can’t tell you how his many poems ended, especially not the ones that made Mom blush, before she tucked the card in her dresser drawer.
Fast forward to 2004. We lost Dad on a clear July day. He didn’t make the trip to the florist’s shop that year, and yet, several months later, on the morning of their anniversary, a clutch of carnations arrived at Mom’s door with a simple card that read: “To What’s-her-name.”
You see, true love not only exists, it doesn’t die. It lives on in the hearts of those it touches. It also reaches out to those in need. My dad was an incredible man and I expect, the best soul I’ll ever have had the privilege to meet as I walk this world. Mom is my rock, the strongest woman I know. Together they understood the power of love and their door was forever thrown open to those in need. I like to think both Mom and Dad approve of my story of humor and hope. Born of their loving example, Where Would You Like Your Nipple? is my attempt to lesson the fear of those facing breast cancer.
This week, I may need to re-read Nipple myself.
So, do those self exams, ladies and guys too. They may just save your life. And don’t forget to hug your mother.
Where Would You Like Your Nipple?