Sunday, September 23, 2012

Get Me Out of Here

My father's sister, Auntie Phyllis has a son, Cousin Wally. During the 54 years of Wally's life he and his mother may have spent 27 hours apart. Cousin Wally has never had a friend, earned a dime, driven a car or had an opinion. Their relationship is so symbiotic Cousin Wally doesn't eat tomatoes because Phyllis chokes on them.  My father and I have just about reached that alarming state. When I took him for chemo yesterday the nurse observed that we were dressed alike.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dinner with Doctors

My father idolizes doctors so when Mike's sister Kathleen and her husband Ricardo (both radiologists) invited us to a 6:30 dinner Mike was ready at 3:00. We met at a restaurant. Everyone, and I mean every single person in the restaurant knew my father. I've lived away from RI long enough that I forgot that about him. My father is a well know jazz trumpet player, he's played at just about everyone's wedding. Not to mention he just generally gets around.  Tomorrow at coffee with the guys he has a good story made even better by the doctors telling him he looked pretty healthy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We're all on the Lido deck

Every time my father introduces me to a new girlfriend I want to pull her aside and tell her she's dancing on the Lido deck of the Titanic and I'm the only one who sees the iceberg. What's stopped me from doing that with the last few was the thought that they may take care of him when he's old and sick. I liked that idea. Well  guess what, word's gotten out and they all DO want to take care of him, the calls, cards and letters are non stop. My father can be described in two words; Bill Clinton. He's magnetic, charming and isn't happy if he's not picking up some woman who looks like Linda Evans.  My father won't see them, he sends me to meet them for coffee to return whatever they have sent and remind them he's with Doris.  It seems his last girlfriend will be Doris. My father is 100% Italian but has always loved waspy blonds. Come to think of it I have mostly steered clear of Italian men…. Anyway, Doris is the queen of Wasp, she's from England. She's rich, rich, rich and brings five changes of clothing for any overnight. When she told me her only hobby is shopping I figured there was no common ground for us. For once I was wrong, I love Doris, she's funny, smart and real.  Doris won't drive on the highway so I chaperone many of their dates these days. She takes beautiful care of my father every weekend. Now we all see the iceberg.

Monday, September 17, 2012


My junior high best friend, Annette, had an Aunt Fay who would stay with Annette's family after drying out at Chapin Hospital. It was during one of these shaky, hopeful homecomings that she taught us to knit.  I don't have to explain to you the irony that I became both a knitter and an alcoholic.
Knitting is a soothing, meditative activity that gets me through any difficult situation.  Every time I've moved I find an AA meeting and a knitting group before I unpack and I'm home.

Today, as Mary Ann faces a rugged chemotherapy regime next week , for metastatic pancreatic cancer ,we sat and knit. It's our normal. This weekend Mary Ann taught her son's girlfriend, Ali, how to knit. It's an easy way to pretend that all is right with the world. Ali seems to be our kind of knitter, when breakfast was served she said "I just need to finish this row".

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Guys

My father likes my husband more than he likes me, most people do. Last night Mike was flying into Green and Mike the father wanted to pick him up with me. I lost my keys and Mike the father went ballistic and he finally found them, that hunt took a couple of months off his life expectancy. On the way home from the airport he said "do you know how I found your keys?". "You prayed to St Anthony". "I prayed to St Anthony" he said. He then recounted a few times when he prayed to St Anthony and the lost object was in his hand. Mike the husband was Mike the father's show and tell at McDonalds this morning.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jeet yet?

When my father was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer I found myself without a place to put my worry. If the worst thing that could happen comes to pass, there's nothing else anyone can tell you that could be worse so a calm sets in.
 If you're Italian though, NOT FOR LONG. I'm afraid my friends will realize they never really liked me anyway, my clients find a hairdresser they like more and I have no life left in Maine. But just in case I do still have friends, clients and a Maine life they will have to learn to communicate with me all over again, I've reverted to my native language. North Providence Rhode Islandese. This state is an opera, and everyone speaks in sort of a recitative. It's a musical place. At the gym this morning two women who remind me of me had a conversation that went like this;"How ARRRRRE you? Goooood?" " Yeah, you know……..ooooh those shoes are sooooo cute! Not for nuttin but ha much?"
So if you still like me study up.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Maybe I'm taking the "Make Sure Mike has Fun' tour to the extreme

The Hell's Angels were visiting Mary Ann today and I asked her if we could crash the party. One of the prospects, Francis, was from the same area of Northern  Ireland that Doris is from.   They do kind of resemble each other don't they? My father probably exhausted his entire bucket list by 1965 so I'm letting him share mine. On this day these were wonderful, caring men who helped my father down the stairs.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I'd Like to Solve the Puzzle

Mike is doing fairly well, and yesterday I wondered if I need to be here all the time, so I asked him. He said he couldn’t do this without me and I need to stay. I think the peanut butter and banana sandwiches I make for him to take to coffee with the guys are just as important as the morphine I hand him twice a day. But really, this cancer is a roller coaster, right after I took this photo Mike was shaking and doubled over in pain, yesterday he couldn't walk. Today, if you ask him he's perfect, he kind of is.
Mike waits for  'Wheel of Fortune' and the Red Sox. I got every movie channel there is and he changes back to Bonanza just when things are getting good in 'Manhattan'.
I've become a tour guide for a bunch of former hep cats. They still like going to the dives.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Daddy -O

It’s been my experience that cancer dawns slowly, first you notice the lump, ignore it for awhile, forget about it maybe and then some time later you realize it’s still resolutely there. In the doctor’s waiting room you’re nervous but certain she’ll say it’s nothing, a lipoma, a cyst and you’ll leave feeling reprieved. She doesn’t though, she says it could be something, probably not but let’s do a scan, a blood test, a biopsy. Still, you wait nervously for the results certain it’s nothing more than the closest call you’ve ever had. When the cancer call comes you’ve done enough research on the web to know what your options are and so you hope for the most benign cancer. So anyway, what I’m trying to say is that when the say it’s metastatic pancreatic cancer you aren’t as freaked out as you ought to be.
My father called me one evening and I ignored the call. The next morning on my way home from and a meeting I remembered he called and listened to his message, “I’m having trouble breathing so I’m going to the ER tomorrow”. I don’t care how sexist I sound, women just KNOW, and I knew that day. He had a chest xray, then a CT scan, then a biopsy, this took weeks, a crawl to diagnosis. He called me every day speculating on the biopsy, ‘it can’t be too bad if they haven’t called me back right away’, and more stuff like that. Oh Daddy. Daddy O.