before i continue on our wednesday story, there is something i need to say. since this is my therapy a little bit and i’m bringing you along for the sorted ride (insert evil laugh) i need to share. there were so many people in our family’s lives who dropped off at this part. my parents got divorced, lots of gossip…dad got remarried, got cancer and died and that’s all that they know. i hope they’re reading. stick with me here, because this story doesn’t go where you think it will go.
so we left off last wednesday at a pretty deep place.
how would you react to being told that you had a life expectancy of 4 months? no, really, think about it for a minute. you’re in a doctors office and he tells you that you “have a tumor the size of a football in your abdomen and that you have about 4 months to live.”
i will tell you this much, i still don’t know how i would react to that kind of news. i’d love to be on the motivation circuit talking about “4 months” but i couldn’t do it. here’s what i do know. it could be slightly controversial but remember, this is my blog and i can say what i want (smile).
1. know where you are going when you die. this is a big one. 4 months isn’t enough time to fruit around with experimentation and what is “in”. don’t say to yourself “no one knows…” that’s a very sad way of thinking and believe me, when you are looking at death – that is not what you think. have faith… and do some research well in advance. talk to someone who has also been through this kind of sentence or experience.
2. forget all the bullshit. are there people you need to tell a little somethin-somethin to? do you wake up in the middle of the night saying these things to these people in your head? what’s stopping you from telling them how you feel? you now have 4 months. carte-blanche to say: i’m disappointed, i’m sad, i’m hurt, sorry, happy etc.. you really don’t have any excuse now to not rid those conversations from your head.
3. don’t wait. every second is precious.
well, this doesn’t only apply to the afflicted, but to the affected. my dad got that sentence and let me tell you this much, there isn’t anyone else but the Almighty God who directed everything from there. our whole family was affected.
going to fast forward a bit here.
that just means you have to read fast. my dad went to sloan kettering first in new york and was referred to a doctor at baylor in dallas. katie, my sister, was actually on a business trip close to hilton head island where my dad and karen lived. with this tumor growing inside him, it was imperative that he get to baylor. katie went to hilton head and met karen for the first time. karen and dad got on a plane and flew to dallas. believe it or not, my mom flew to hilton head and helped katie drive with karen and dad’s stuff to dallas. she didn’t want katie to drive alone. <pause the fast forward>
karen is now introduced into the story here. i want you to know how much time we had spent not liking karen. she was the other woman. this whole part of the story was extremely challenging for everyone. because my mom mourned for my dad’s illness but couldn’t be near him, we had to just accept our jilted family – for the sake of the “4 months”. so much was forced upon us. you see, we didn’t have choices anymore.
i set dad and karen up in an apartment around the corner from mine in the gables at katy trail. it was a quiet, shaded complex very walkable to shopping (hello) and restaurants and close to baylor. they went from this very nice sized house on a golf course in hilton head island with not one but two security gates to an apartment on the first floor in dallas. and you know what? no one cared. i know that karen is nodding her head to that right now. no one cared. you’re in crisis mode and all you care about is spending what little time you have left with someone. boy. what if we lived like that all the time.
the cancer tumor in his stomach went away with chemo. and life became somewhat good. the chemo sure took a toll but dad was still dad but sweeter and more attentive to all of us kids. he made us laugh endlessly with his odd choice of food cravings. i got the impression that karen and dad ate pretty well in hilton head. karen is a fantastic cook who likes to experiment with recipes. but now she was running through the dicky’s bbq drive through at 8pm at night and mcdonalds breakfast at 7am. one morning, i came over and he wasn’t up which was odd. so i waited. and waited. and then saw their buick pull up outside the apartment. dad got out and walked in the apartment. keep in mind, he could barely walk. but he had to get his bacon, egg and cheese biscuit!
i spent every morning and every evening with dad. and it is very hard for me to write this, just remembering how very special those times were to me. it wasn’t like when i was younger and we talked about business and car sales and gave me motivational pep talks. he wanted to know about where i was going and wanted to talk about what was going on with my life outside of work. and we laughed and remembered. i rubbed his hands and feet which hurt him after chemo. we listened to sermons from his church back in hilton head. he knew the words to some of them. this was the year of hurricane katrina and we sat dumb-founded watching the horrific news. and it was raining in dallas a lot. all this was going on at once.
but i treasure the memory of seeing my dad’s bald head and his thin body lank across the apartment walkway and him knock on my door for saturday morning coffee.
there are so many good memories here. and we got to know karen very well too. and we liked her. mom did too. like the time he had both mom and karen over to my house for a mother’s day brunch.