Family, Cancer and Caretakers
Let me tell you a story,
This story starts out with an unexpected hero, a cowboy hat. The hat made its debut in Sandy Neal’s life at her high school prom when her date and future husband wore it for the special occasion. Like most high school proms, it is the simple things that turn out to be the really big memories. As it would turn out Sandy would marry her prom date a few years later and at their wedding, he wore the hat. They had three kids together and the hat was brought out on special occasions. At their son’s prom Sandy’s husband passed along the hat to his son. The hat would be a superhero cape for their son. The hat means everything to their son and the memories mean everything to Sandy.
Now let me tell you about Sandy. I met her at Mile High Ink when she arrived for her tattoo and had agreed to share her story and experiences with me. Sandy’s tattoo is a memorial of her family, but in minutes you can see that Sandy’s soul has archives of love, anxiety, family, abandonment and selflessness. Sandy is a hospice nurse and her entire life has a theme of her taking care of those around her. This is her superhero power - her ability to love regardless of the environment, context and demographic. As she puts it, she has strong empathy but not sympathy. She expects a great deal out of anyone. Pull your head out of your ass and get to work - these are her words. She says it with love that you can tell is honest. In the last year Sandy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She says that this has increased her sympathy and made her a softy. To me, Sandy is the Sequoia tree that cares endlessly for animals that need protection from the elements and can withstand the worst of any weather. She may be covered in snow, rain or moss, but her core is strong as granite that will live and provide endlessly.
This was my conundrum after we filmed her story. You can see that her family story is rich, but so is the story of her caretaking super power. Thus we split her story into two films. One of her family and her tattoo (Part 1 that was released this week - go here) and one about her.
Throughout this video series we have been blessed to see the depth of each person we filmed. It has strengthened my belief that everyone has an incredible story inside of them. Its method of surfacing may be through art, or raising amazing children. It may surface through writing or your work, but it surfaces - our joy is getting to learn it and share it.
I hope you see the same in the work we produce.
Here is to great stories,