Sunday, July 24, 2011


Evansville Wednesday
Have been here for a week now and we have well-established rhythms to the days. My bed is the couch in the living room, a somewhat formal room full of paintings and decorative accents chosen by Geneva, painted yellow, tall windows, pleated drapes, oriental rug. My luggage, two bags, sit on a couple of occasional chairs, mouths open and displaying my stuff. I roll up my jammies and tuck them in their place, then make some coffee and take it out by the pool. Since I have been waking up very early, the sun is barely up, and the birds are in full voice, their calls somehow blending into a beautiful morning song, chirping, trilling, cawing, all at once, saying good morning. The mama bird who I have named Geneva is already out looking for breakfast and the babies are still asleep. The sun rises over the back fence at about 6:45, when I am on my second cup of coffee. The sun seems to target my face directly, though I smile at the self-absorption of that thought: God aiming the sun at me for my individual pleasure.
Within an hour or so, Geneva comes down, all sweet smiles, in her Glory Gown (so named because she says when she puts it on at night, she says, “Glory Hallelujah.”) We chat by the pool, start puttering around the kitchen, share our stories about the night and our predictions for the day ahead. Dad appears in the kitchen doorway an hour later; he loves to peek his head around the corner, his hair neatly combed, smelling good, like Dad, with his shirt all tucked in and his sandals velcroed around his Gold Toe socks just so. He favors polo shirts or short-sleeved woven ones, but the other day, sported a t-shirt reading MICHIGAN GRAMPA. He gets the paper, and gradually, the business of dressing and washing up and doing the dishes gets done. Geneva drifts upstairs to put some clothes on and roll her hair; I smoke in the chair by the pool and watch Bella trot with such a sense of purpose around the yard, barking sharply toward the fence and whatever she hears on the other side, her stomach contracting and her front legs leaving the ground with each bark.
Sometime in the afternoon, there are naps, and dinner is a bounty of fresh vegetables and fruit: sweet corn, tomatoes, peaches, asparagus, all so delicious and somehow decadent in their simplicity. After dinner, a movie from Netflix and maybe some of geneva’s delicious strawberry cake. Bedtime early after carefully locking the doors and turning off the lights. The door keys are on old keyrings and have special places in the room. I am comforted by the sense of order in this house. It is the feeling of older people who have figured out a lot of things that are still a mystery to me.

For the past couple of days I have lost my appetite and am wary of eating much of anything because of the consequences. I understand that this is because my liver isn’t able to do its job correctly. I feel apologetic asking it to do more that necessary. I miss my robust appetite. I miss stuffing my face. It isn’t like me to pick at my food or even to hesitate.
My gut is sore and distended and only loose things feel good. Bella snuggles up to it when I lay down and acts as a puppy-heating-pad, soothing the irritated feeling.

Tomorrow, we return to Michigan and to the house I said goodbye to nine days ago. I look forward to seeing my flowers and sleeping in my bed. Next week we talk to a doctor at the University of Chicago who specializes in treating melanoma. In the meantime, the rhythm of the days will unfold.

1 comment:

Dana V said...

I came upon your blog a year or so ago via a link from Susan Loughrin. We have met too - I work at the Ottawa Area ISD and for the MW Brain & Learning Institute. I just want to tell you two things: Your writing is absolutely beautiful! and, I am very sorry to know your cancer has returned. I am praying for you and thinking about you, picturing your healthy and whole.

Dana VanAmberg