Do Your Best
Tomiko is a three-time cancer survivor. She lost her stomach and rectum. She has been using a stoma* and disposable bags attached to it to pass and collect stools. Tomiko can hear only through her right ear and use eye drops to slow the progress of her glaucoma condition. The treatment she received for tuberculosis in her teens left numbness in her legs. Since her husband passed away last year, Tomiko has been living alone in her two-story house. One of her daughters visits her weekly to help with her medical appointments, grocery shopping, and other errands. Otherwise, she takes care of herself: she cooks balanced meals and keeps her house clean. She walks between her bedroom upstairs and the living and dining rooms downstairs. She shows up for monthly neighborhood cleaning. Keeping her physical and cognitive abilities is her priority. She does gentle stretches every morning, followed by crossword puzzles and Sudoku. If the weather permits, she steps out to walk around her house. She recently added singing to her health regimen. "To keep my voice," she smiles. Living alone means staying silent most of the day. She knows whatever physical function she doesn't use will be lost soon. She intends to call her friends between her daughter's visits, but she often gets too busy with her routine to do any extra activities. "The day passes quickly!" she chuckles. Tomiko says she is ready to leave this world anytime. "But I'm not called yet. Meanwhile, I had better do my best to keep my body strong and able." She is thankful for her mobility, family support, and life itself. Tomiko Fujimaru is my mother. She will turn 89 next week. * An opening made through the abdominal wall to connect the bowel to the surface of the abdomen.