What Could Be Pretty About Cancer?


I’d like to write about something inspirational, to focus on nature, something pretty in life or something hopeful. Instead, my mind is filled with sadness, anxiety, and despair. I suppose the same three words could easily be summed up into one: cancer.  What could be pretty about cancer?

Soon after my father married at the end of this past March his bride was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Together, they’ve been fighting the disease ever since with every ounce of strength imaginable.

I feel so very helpless because I am here in St. Louis while my father and his wife are living in Arizona. I can’t be there to hold his hand, run an errand, cook a meal or simply sit with him at the hospital. When he calls, his voice invariably cracks during his last few words. He struggles not to show his emotion, yet it is there, just beneath the surface. In my mind, there are tears in his eyes and I hear a choking sound in the back of his throat. My heart aches for my father.

Although not my decision, perhaps my father’s wife should have been in hospice for the last several weeks? There, she might have been more comfortable, able to hear her favorite music while visiting with her daughter and grandchildren? Yet, doctors and oncologists are willing to provide every treatment possible to prolong the inevitable end of life, especially when the patient has been sold on the slightest chance of more time.

More time for WHAT? More time for hair to fall out from chemotherapy treatments. More time to buy a wig. More time for a person’s skin to redden and dry from the effects of radiation. More time to lose the senses of taste and hearing. More time to wither away to skin and bones. More time to vomit and writhe in pain. More time to slowly die…..

If my father’s wife was a loved one to any of member of the team of doctors treating her, a wife, sister or mother, would the protocol of treatment have been the same?

Cancer…the only thing pretty about it is the love that has brought my father and his wife closer. For that I am thankful.

 

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Celebrating Mother


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Five years forever whispers in my ear.  Five…five….five…five.  Warm breaths with tender lips barely brushing cheeks.  Last kisses of inevitable goodbyes.

Life-time sentiments of love between a mother and daughter.  I remember gently climbing into her over-sized bed to fluff pillows of down.  Wanting to snuggle close.  Careful now. Fragility.  With every movement of the mattress her body cried out in pain.  An agony of my own if you will yet one I prayed to never know.

Clasping hands, hers was tiny.  Blue-white from lack of oxygen, but soft and smooth. The feeling of velvet with a faint hint of lavender lotion.  I held fingers to the rose-colored lamp under the tip of my nose to breathe in the scent of her, wanting to remember it always and forever.

Looking around the room, Mother reminded me of one of her treasured porcelain baby dolls protected behind doors of glass.  So infantile she was lying in a near fetal position in order to be comfortable.  If only I could do the same for her, much like her beloved cabinet full of heart, http://wp.me/p41md8-14b.

Still, we were awarded brief moments of heartfelt joy.  Memories of thankfulness never to be replaced.   Mother’s head resting upon my shoulder while movies of color played before our eyes of four.  Laughter.  Sharing cookies and cocoa.  Crumbs in the bed.  Warm, labored breaths upon my neck.  Closeness and bonding came full circle.  Sheets of cool cotton beneath chins of two.  Understanding. ComfortAcceptanceLovePeace.  We had it all during that those last few days before she was ready to go.

When lids opened from brief respite, it was a time for conversations in the shadows of the night.  Insignificant at first, we danced around the truth before the music stopped.  “Take care of Daddy…”  Near the end of my mother’s life this was her main concern.  She feared the love of her own would be left alone.  Squeezing her hand lightly, no more words were needed.  She had her answer then.  She rested.

Prologue:

It’s ironic that today, five years after my mother’s passing my husband and I are attending a neighborhood potluck of Thanksgiving.  Before realizing the date, I searched for a special recipe to cook, one that I knew my friends would enjoy.  Digging into mother’s mixed box of handwritten 3X5 cards, I finally discovered exactly what was meant to be.  Pulling the recipe from a clear plastic container, there was her familiar handwriting, scripted in wooden pencil.   Now faded, the yellowed index card is curled in the left hand corner where it’s nearly torn.  Splashed upon it are droplets of tomato sauce, dried from my mother’s days of cooking long ago.

I’m celebrating Mother today by sharing her recipe with all of you.  An unusual one perhaps, but delicious!

Wieners in Tomato Sauce (I think my mother simply made up a name)

1 lb. wieners

1 large can diced tomatoes

2 slices of chopped sweet onion

1 large chopped green pepper

½ c sugar

Dash of salt & pepper

Bring all of the above to boil-then turn down flame & thicken with 2 T mixed flour & water.  Simmer approximately two hours, covered. *Serves 4-6

**I tend to cook in larger quantities, doubling or tripling the recipe (except for the sugar) and putting it in my crock pot to cook the whole day through.

Recipe