Preface to Winter Sun
She entered the world as Janice Mason; she came into my life as Janice Greene; she left us as Janice Rice. Her life’s story is beyond the scope of my talents. What I hope to preserve with this writing is some small measure of the loving light in which she moved.
There is sadness in the story, but it is a memoir of love. As a memoir it is not overly concerned with medical facts or historical data; rather, it is a telling of my personal experience and perceptions as Janice, my companion and fiancée, is diagnosed and treated for stage four Glioblastoma Multiforme (GMD), more commonly known as a brain tumor. Some of the writing is journalistic in the form of email updates to friends and family as the disease progressed. The bulk of the text was composed during and after a period of healing. All of it is from the heart.
And, too, this is a memoir of hospice. Although I am tempted to use a euphemism for death in my reference to hospice, I will instead say that hospice is about life. Because of hospice, Janice was able to symbolically clasp my hand and take me with her as she slipped beyond the physical surface. She took me with her to the source, and then she gently let go.
There would be no way to individually mention all of the folks who reached out during the events covered by this story. Though I can’t list all of the names, please know that your love made all the difference. And with the knowledge that I am unintentionally leaving vital connections out, I am nonetheless compelled to offer deep thanks to the following:
My mom, Joann, for being a loving mother in season and out. My dad Charles for preparing me. Janice’s mother, Helen, for believing. Jennifer Mason Wilson, for being a loving sister to Janice and to me; John and Susan Mason and Joy Mason Price for treating me like family. Christi Lyn, Pati, and my sister Maggie for a lifetime of love. Starr Ivester Adams, for not letting 800 miles keep her from staying close; and my other Ivester-clan cousins—Eddie, Mike, Doug, Jo, Danny, and Donna—for always being there. My aunts, Barbara Murray and Mildred Ivester-Sterchi, for sharing their love and wisdom.
Tom Tyner, Dave Easton, Will Kern, Jennifer Jackson (Wid), Sandi Sapar, Paul Teerlinck, Beth Hannabass, Beth Seiber, Susan Gatlin Brent, Lisa Conners, Susan Russell, Frank Baltazar, Jeff Bumpus, David Acuff, Chip Carrier, Andreas Wiebe, Bettina Tipp, Angela Bejarano, Wilson Nova and so many others for the love and friendship. And likewise to Bob Jenkins, Kelley Reagan, Jackie Cobb, Beth Smith, and the rest of our Smoky Mountain brethren—with a special nod to Charlie Livermore and our many friends at Trinity Episcopal Church.
Andy and Jane Limone for pointing the way. Rethabile Masilo and Ciretta Martin for the poems. Kris Opat for being a marvelous priest. My friends Steve Parham, Tim Sasscer, Tim Pfau, Will Kern, Phyllis Gardner, Marc Charles, and Cat Johnson for spending time with this writing on my behalf.
Jim Gray for his art. Chris Gray for allowing us to use—and for providing a hi-res file of—his father Jim’s marvelous painting, “Winter Sunset.” Georges Stratan for designing the cover around Mr. Gray’s art. And the hundreds of online friends and voices who reached out.
The hospital doctors, nurses, and caregivers for doing what they do, and especially to Dr. Barbara Swan for her compassion and wisdom. Without Dr. Swan the memoir has a very different ending.
Nan, Marty, Joyce, and everyone at Odyssey Hospice for their remarkable skills and dedication.
My son Paul for steadfastly standing with me before, during, and after. Paul is the hero of this story.
And Virginia for being in my life. Her patience, love, and understanding made this memoir possible.