Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tree Street Tuesdays: Meet Becky Ellis

Becky jokes around with me about her hair loss. Humor in the face of frailty = Becky's strength.

Remember that story I told you about the woman riding around the Tree Streets on the back of a big orange chopper? A short recap: My next door neighbor saw Becky Ellis, who has been very sick with cancer, riding on the back of her son's chopper.

What on earth is Becky doing? She's dying! She thought to herself. Then, a switch flipped and her heart corrected her:

No. She's LIVING!

That has always been Becky's style. Having been a dancer her whole life, teaching for decades at BYU, she is more sensitive than most with regards to feeling life in her entire being. She has never had the attitude that cancer would stop her from getting the most out of life, even up until her last breath. And while that last breath has felt very near several times, Becky has rallied and made multiple comebacks. However, after deciding to discontinue her chemo treatments, time is now very precious.

The Glediator and I had the chance to visit with Becky on Sunday. We sat on the edge of her bed, stroking her arms, remeniscing about Gleddy's days as a teenage hoodlam with her son, Jake. She never opened her eyes, but laughed and then cried right along with the big, tough Glediator, expressing how much fun those teenage years were. Really? I thought to myself, having heard all of the wild stories from Jake and Gleddy's high school years.

Then I got thinking about how many of us with teenage boys in our lives really dwell on "how fun they are." Sometimes, in moments of frustration, we just can't see the larger scope of things and how precious each person in our life really is.

I took my boys to the zoo yesterday. In all honesty, I was miserable. The boys were being so bratty and fought the whole time. I felt like a loser parent with no control over my children. Then I felt guilty for not enjoying taking my boys on outings. And if that's not enough, I seriously considered throwing Jackson out of the car window on the drive home. Today, rather than throwing my son out, I'd like to toss those feelings out the window and choose to focus on the few shining moments we did have. Like seeing a baby snow leapord snuggle with his mother, or the boys wanting to pose for pictures with every single statue, and even laughing out loud together when a buffalo laid some cable right before our very eyes.

Thank you for teaching me to see only the good times, Becky. Thank you for teaching me to live.

Becky's Senior portrait. Isn't she a beauty?


  1. Thank you for this! Your post, along with Nie's today, really caused quite a few tears to flow!

  2. Becky is beautiful and such an inspiration. I'm so glad you and Ryan went to see her.

  3. What an amazing woman!

    I know I too sometimes feel guilty when I don't feel like I think I should around my kids. I read a great book by Christiane Northrope once that talked about the big spectrum of motherhood. On one end are the women who just adore their children and are completly fulfilled by them- on the other end are the women who have no maternal desires at all. Along that spectrum are the rest of us, and it's ok to be on that spectrum- on any side!

  4. I LOVE being a Mom to boys.
    I also dearly appreciate the courage of amazing people in my life (like your Becky).

  5. what a beautiful woman and mother! thank you for sharing a little more of her story with us, mindy! i agree with your first bolded sentence; what an amazing quality!

  6. what a great outlook Becky has... and I'm glad you didn't throw Jackson out the window yesterday!

  7. Thank you! I feel inspired and better for reading your words and Becky's journey!

  8. A friend sent me your blog on dancing with Becky because of my interest in creative dance. I hadn't known she had passed away. She was a genius at working with boys and teaching elementary teachers how to incorporate dance into their classrooms. These pictures are a treasure. Thank you.

  9. Loved this post! Loved your honesty about your frustration as well as the precious moments! It amazes me how motherhood can be so irritating one second and so heartwarming and fulfilling the next and then back to exasperating. I love the thought that we need to hold on to the precious times and throw out the rest! That sounds like a good way to live!

  10. Mindy,

    I loved your post about Becky - she was an amazing inspiration in my life. She truly lived! I have a blog if you wish to read my post http://bridge-cast.blogspot.com/

  11. I love Becky Ellis and her family. She will always be in my heart. I'm very grateful I got to meet her and know her. I will forever be grateful. Mukon Ngoyi