Tag Archives: cancer

The Nothing Burger

18 Jan

The forecast was for a “blockbuster” storm. When I stopped for a prescription last night I had to park on the lot across the street because the grocery store was mobbed.  As promised, the snow started falling a little after 7PM, but it was “puny”, to quote The Squire. When we went to bed a little after 10 it seemed to have stopped completely.

When I opened the shades this morning, the expression above popped into my head: A Nothing Burger. There wasn’t enough snow to even close the schools! Man, I can remember when I was in public high school having to wait one hour before trudging back home. The worst sound in the world was the clanking of the bus’s snow chains coming down Joppa Road – usually at the 55 minute mark!

We were also to have frigid temps, but it was 40° at 3PM. Maybe that’s frigid in Florida, but it certainly isn’t very cold in Maryland – especially in mid-January.

The daughter of one of our families died this past week, and the funeral is tomorrow. A lot of circumstances make this entire endeavor very tricky. The father is in a wheelchair and on oxygen, and the mother is in such bad shape – emotionally and physically – that the two sons don’t think she’s going to even make it to the service. We are allowing the viewing to be in the narthex – pretty much an absolute no-no in the Episcopal Church – before the service. The committal service will be read at the church door because neither of the parents can make it to the grave.

The mission is for the church to serve the people, not the other way around. My mum’s church only has Eucharist once a month, and I was absolutely livid when her minister refused to bring her communion when she was dying because it was “the wrong time of the month”.  And then, there’s that marvelous case where the Roman Church refused to allow a girl with severe celiac disease to use a rice wafer for Communion instead of the normal wheat.

A dear friend of ours moved to Colorado about thirty years ago, and I called him to let him know about this death; he was a long-time friend of the family. In the course of the conversation he told me he had what he called “a cancer”. He said he didn’t know exactly what sort it was, but he was not “pursuing” it, as he phrased it. He is in his mid-80s, and simply can’t see the point to dragging himself through all that mess.

Makes perfect sense to us. Give me pain meds, and leave me alone.

A Matter of Life and Death

29 Mar

I have just finished reading two books written by physicians,  about the ways people torment their loved ones when death is on the horizon.  One is Extreme Measures, by Jessica Nutik Zitter, and the other is Modern Death, by Haider Warraich, and I heartily recommend either, or both.  Dr. Zitter takes a more “human” approach, while Dr. Warraich discusses, among other things, the way cells die.  All cells die; if they did not, we would have 9 miles of intestines and almost two tons of bone marrow in our bodies by the time we reach middle age.  It’s the cells that refuse to die that cause cancer.

Dr. Zitter writes about how families either refuse to face the fact that their loved one is dying, or they want the doctor to do “everything possible”.  Neither is good.

Yesterday was the 48th anniversary of the death of President Eisenhower (yeah, that’ll make you feel old!) and I remember my daughter, who was seven, asking us why they kept poking him.  The wisdom of a child!

Ask your doctor what he wants done when he is in his final illness.  Chances are he wants to be kept pain free and then “go away and don’t bother me”.

Beginnings and Endings

27 Jul

Yesterday we went up to Eldest Daughter’s to visit with our granddaughter and her two children. Aubrey just turned two, and Wyatt is all of six weeks old, and growing like the proverbial weed. He was 8 pounds, 4 ounces when he was born, and weighs thirteen pounds now.

Aubrey has taken quite a shine to her great-grandfather, calling him Papa, with either a British or French accent. Much emphasis on the second syllable. Pa-pah, she says. She was up on the balcony, looking down and calling him to come up to her bedroom. There are two sets of stairs, and The Squire took the front way up, which she didn’t expect, and he surprised her. “Oh, hi!” (Fancy meeting you here.) She led Pa-pah into her room, showed him her toys, made him a plastic egg sandwich, and then read him a story. Her version was much better than the book.

When we got ready to leave, her mum told her to say good-bye to “Great-grandmother”, and Aubrey blew me a kiss and said,  “I love you, Gran-Mama.” It’s taken two years, but now we have “official” names!

Today, we went to a visitation for a fellow with whom both The Squire and I had worked at Equitable. We’d seen John at the reunion in June, and we both remarked that he didn’t look at all well. His wife, who had also worked at the bank, said that was one of the last good days he’d had. Within about two weeks he’d begun failing dreadfully. He had cancer, and she’d opted for a closed casket because he looked so dreadful.

He was younger than my sister and they had been married less time than we had. Life, sometimes she just isn’t fair.

Be kind to each other.