Newsletter - Me and Martini - 08.30.12

by Lillian Lipson

It was 1962.

Mother and I went to Las Vegas for a $25 roundtrip bus fare. We had reserved a room at the Stardust Hotel for two nights and we had $10 gambling money in our pockets. Whoopee!

While in the hotel casino, we met some charming men, played blackjack seated next to them, and finally called it a night around 4 a.m. The next morning I ran into them again and asked them to join me for breakfast. Finally, we introduced ourselves and I learned the names of the mysterious men – Monty and Larry (the handsome one). Smile. Big smile.





Monty was a very verbose man with many stories to share and Larry and I just listened. Out of nowhere Larry spoke up, “I have a trip planned on the boat to Catalina for Friday evening only. Would you like to come with me?" I accepted with a smile – a big smile.

The weekend was perfect. We played scrabble, sunbathed and danced in the rooftop lounge of the Riviera Hotel. It was so romantic – he swept me off my feet and 10 weeks later we were married. That was 50 years ago this Sept. 16.
Our life together was exciting. Larry was a very well-known food critic for the Daily News. In fact, he often had to go out incognito – wearing a hat or glasses – to not be recognized. We ate well, drank well, went to the Playboy Club on regular basis and hobnobbed with the rich and famous. We rounded out our family with two sons, Jeff and Matthew. Life was good and we were happy.

Fast Forward to 2001.

Our son, Matthew, died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the age of 35. I was devastated, and nothing I did seemed to ease the pain. I felt my life closing in around me. I was not smiling.

When it was time for our annual anniversary vacation, I decided it was time for a change. Normally we visited Italy to celebrate our vows, but that year we found ourselves in Costa Rica. For reasons I cannot explain, the rich lands and quiet people of Costa Rica made me feel happy. We bought a small condo there, and visited four times a year. I was smiling again.

In 2007 we sold our home and were ready to move to Costa Rica – ready for a new and exciting life. Then the phone call came. I had lung cancer. After successful removal of the lower right quadrant of my right lobe, I spent a few weeks recovering at home. Six weeks after I received my diagnosis, we bundled up our faithful dog, Beige, and moved to our new adventure!

Life was good again. Until…I had a mammogram in the States. I had breast cancer, and the treatment was going to be swift. Once I had the cancerous tissue removed I received radiation twice a day for five consecutive days. Wasting no time getting back to my new home in Costa Rica, I recouperated there – among the beauty of the flowers and the howling monkeys at 3 a.m. It was where I needed to be.

I have learned a lot these last four years. I am ready to tackle whatever life throws at me. My days are still filled with wonder and life is still good. We have made wonderful friends in Costa Rica, and we enjoy listening to Martini in the Morning every day. Brad and Miriam cheer us up, though I’m not sure how Miriam puts up with all Brad’s antics. Smile.

It is true that cancer has affected my life, but I am a survivor. And no matter what happens, I will always laugh…and smile. Always.

                                                   
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