Courage to be seen

Thursday, April 04, 2013

I have to admit that I go to great lengths to keep old friends and classmates from seeing me at my current size. Although I see others going to reunions, etc. with all those extra pounds on them, it hasn't been enough for me to face it. I think they are lucky that it doesn't matter to them. It seems I just can't divorce myself from my self-image as an obese woman and I get mad at myself when I throw away opportunities to be with old friends, in person.

That brings me to think about my cousin. A few years ago, he learned that he had cancer in his salivary glands. As the cancer spread, he had several surgeries to remove tissue and bone in his mouth and jaw. Each surgery changed his looks, until he had no jaws at all. He was unable to eat or drink, and took all nourishment through tubes. As you can imagine, he was terribly disfigured.

He could have gone into hiding because of his facial deformities, but he chose not to. He lost quite a bit of weight, so with his new face, it was difficult to recognize him. Before he had cancer he was overweight--I guess you could say "portly." So here was the new look, with no jaws and mouth pulling together from the sides to the middle, kind of like kids do when trying to look like a fish. He said this was what he looked like now, so what? Even though he was unable to eat, he took a lot of joy in creating a cookbook about cooking one dish meals in a rice cooker. I can't imagine cooking and smelling all those wonderful smells and not being able to eat them! He also continued to work at his craft--reviewing movies.

Roger Ebert died today, and I am saying goodbye to my last cousin, not the film critic, although I will miss that side of him too. He made the best of everything, even when it was difficult. He still saw and reviewed movies, wrote up reviews for the print media, and recently wrote his autobiography. He had a good life and a full one. He also had the courage to be seen, in spite of the changes in his appearance.

RIP, Roger Ebert

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    My condolences. What a beautiful & touching tribute!

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    1872 days ago
  • SPEEDY143
    My sincerest condolences to you and your family... I loved him too and had such admiration for his courage and willingness to continue to live in the public eye regardless of his physical changes and limitations. Another beautiful soul that will continue to shine on emoticon
    1874 days ago
    What a beautiful tribute and blog. I admire you courage.
    1874 days ago
  • JILL313
    Roger Ebert had such courage in spite of his cancer. I really liked him before and admired how he dealt so admirably with his cancer. You are so right why should we be so concerned with our looks as it's what's inside that really counts.He's one of my heroes and will be missed. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1874 days ago
    Thank you for sharing. Important things for us all to think about. I saw a film clip of him last night after his surgeries and marveled at the way he was able to interact with people. I'm so sorry for your loss. Hugs, Jeannie
    1875 days ago
    Thank you for the lovely tribute. I'm from the Midwest and University of Illinois people claim him as cousins too. Thank you for sharing-- he made a wonderful point of living to the end.
    1875 days ago
  • ANNIE924
    My condolences, we should all show the courage that Roger did. I always enjoyed his reviews.

    Take care of yourself, and remember you are worth seeing now matter what your weight is.
    1875 days ago
    What a beautiful tribute to Roger! My heart broke when I heard the news yesterday of his passing, and I didn't "know" him....bless you, for sharing this with us.

    May we be able to take a page from his life...and step up and out for ourselves, no matter what comes, with acceptance, love and joy.
    1875 days ago
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