About the Author: Tammy Wilson Smith, PT is owner of Healthy Transformations and founder of Fun Fitness and Fabulous Food, a compilation of 3 programs to strengthen your body, nourish your soul and open your heart. Safe & Savory, Play with Purpose Retreats and Hiking to Happiness all offer opportunities throughout the year no matter the weather, your experience or your health goals.
Here, we combine fun movement and nutritious food with new friends in a safe uplifting environment. We encourage vulnerability in trying new things from new moves, new food, to new thoughts and experiences. Tammy's expertise as a Physical Therapist for over 30 years and her recent Wilderness First Aid training assure you are well taken care of in any circumstance. Visit www.tammywilsonsmith.com to experience past events, new registrations and a hiking calendar coming very soon.
It’s been 18 years since my sister Nancy was diagnosed with leukemia and my world was shaken. She was my person and to this day gifts me with wisdom, compassion, love and understanding. She introduced me to Louise Hay, Caroline Myss, Deepak Chopra and many others. She tried to teach me about protecting myself from toxic energy fields, setting boundaries, and loving myself unconditionally. She is still teaching me those things and I hear her voice and feel her hugs daily. It was such serendipity, that just last week, I was feeling especially sad thinking of her. And the next morning received this email asking to write about the gifts I have received from someone who has passed to the other side. That is no accident. . .just love from her.
We were states away from one another, and I could hear it in her voice, that she was leaving soon. Oh, she would try her best to muster up the strength to portray to others that she was on the mend, all while needing several platelet transfusions every week. Nancy decided a few months earlier, she was not going to go the chemo route, as she truly believed in the power of complementary medicine and alternative healing. Being an ARNP herself, and a psychotherapist, she also knew the power of the mind and heart in healing the body. But, I was worried and anxious, afraid of not being able to help her in some way, fearful of not getting to spend more time with her. I took a leave of absence from work, despite the lack up emotional support from other family members, particularly my ex-husband. I ended up taking our daughter out of Jr. High school to spend the second half of those six weeks with us. It was the first of two big decisions I made that year in order to spend more time with her. The second happened a couple months later. They were two of the best decisions of my life.
During those first weeks while she was in the hospital having chemo, bone marrow biopsies, IV’s, contracting C-diff and fungal infections, her body languished, but her spirit soared. There was a little pull out bed in her isolation room that I slept on many nights, and she would often waken at 3 or 4 in the morning, unable to fall back asleep. That was when she would share memories of her childhood, of my childhood. You see, she was 12 years older than me, and being a twin, Nancy was essentially assigned to me, while Mom took care of my brother. I was the twin who slept better, ate better and was a bit healthier. We often joked about how she once tipped me out of my stroller and I’ve never been the same since. And we’re not sure if it was accidental. During those early mornings, she would talk of how mad she was as a teenager, having to give up cheerleading practice in order to come home from school to babysit. There were two other siblings between us as well, and she was the highly capable older sister. I missed her so much when she went off to college 300 miles away, just as I entered first grade. When she came home from college on break, she was dressed like a hippie, smoked cigarettes (which my brother and I promptly broke) and said the word “SHIT” a lot. I admired her. When she married and had twin girls, I wanted to parent just like she did. . free spirited, mud pies, and homemade play dough every day.
Nancy had a way with words, and could make you laugh with her Norwegian accent, and stories from a time that seemed much different than mine. The stories that affected me the most were those she told of our older sister Julie, who died when Nancy was 4. The family was on a summer vacation from ND to the PNW when Julie became acutely ill. The folks had dropped the girls off with family in Walla Walla, and then left for a second honeymoon on the coast to Seaside, OR. I only understood much later why it was MOM never wanted to visit the OR coast when they would come to visit. Julie died in a few days from viral meningitis. It was 1953, long before grief support groups or even encouragement to speak of loss. Mom had already lost both brothers, and the Norwegian way, was to not speak of it. Nancy remembered the trip home on the train and a black porter (the first person of color she had ever seen) tell her in his drawl, “li’ miss, your sister, your sister is going to be just fine”. Nancy had a way of taking you right into that train car with her, seeing and hearing that porter. She also shared of days in the garden with Grandma Wilson, who could just be with her in silence and talk to the clouds, as if they were Julie.
Grandma was a fit 70 something during that time. She lived 30 years beyond that time, to 100 years old and always had a special spot in her heart for Nancy. And I I think me too, since my twin and I were the youngest of all the grandchildren.
Nancy was the one who encouraged me to find myself, to leave an abusive marriage, and to trust men again. She taught me to not be afraid of my emotions, to let the tears come, to speak my heart, and to give big hugs. I think she was match making in heaven 6 weeks after she passed over, with my current husband’s late mom.
She has been very present for me during these last couple years as I’ve started a new career and gone down the negative belief path a time or one hundred. She’s the one who says, “atta girl”. I met an intuitive last fall at an event, and within a few minutes she said to me, “your sister is here with you all the time. She’s right there on your shoulder. And she is so proud of you for continuing her work”.
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This Guest Blog will feature contributions from experts & other advocates on topics that speak to integration of mind, body & spirit wellness.