July 23, 2011

My father got a cancer-free diagnosis last week.   Having watched both my parents battle this disease and witnessed their bodies destroyed by the treatments meant to cure them, this news makes me as  happy as G and E on trash day (or “garbargubus” day as we refer to it around here).  I’m just so relieved  and giddily peaceful over this good news that I had to share a photo of my father.  So here we are in the lat 1970s.  As you can see my father has always had superb tastes in button-down shirts.

Not to over-share, but just a few months after my mother died from cancer in 2008 my father was diagnosed with a recurrent form cancer thought to have been cured back in the mid 1990s .  His chances of remission with this second round were statistically quite slim.  He began treatments, but they made him horribly ill.   He quit eating, lost a lot of weight, and it seemed unlikely he’d ever make it through effects of the medicine, let alone the cancer.

When I hear my dad say he’s had yet *another* cancer-free diagnosis I know that, chances are, he’ll be around for a while longer.  And I feel like, at least on some level, I understand the depth of that gift.  And for G and E, no one can top Pappa when it comes to awesomeness.  They talk about him every morning when they get up and every night before they go to bed.  He looms large in their imaginations, right up there with helicopters and fireworks and stars.  One way I know this is because any time they see an older man in a picture, regardless of whether he’s tall or short, thin or heavy, black, white, or brown, they yell, “Pappa!”   To them, the world is full of Pappa.

Back in his rodeo days.

My dad is the man who taught me how to tell stories, love music, ride horses, work on cars, budget and save money, live frugally, shine cowboy boots, embrace my rural, financially poor roots, and work with, and learn from, animals.  He help me to appreciate the aesthetics of a nice name-embossed leather belt, four-part gospel harmony, and a freshly paved road (he worked for the Highway Department for years).  Things I’m still trying to learn from him include how to tell the weather just by looking at the clouds, the names of every community in our great state,  and principles of applied math. The man can sit down with a calculator and a notepad and entertain himself for hours “running numbers and figurin’,” as he says.  Who does that?

I know what it’s like to hear that your loved one has cancer and I know what it’s like to watch a parent die. And sometimes I wonder, rather than only say silent prayers of thanksgiving, why don’t we throw a huge party and run around town honking our horns and screaming “cancer-free!  That’s right, you heard me! Cancer-free! ” out the window?  Since I live in Little Rock now and my neighbors don’t know my dad, I’m not sure that would work so well.  So instead I decided to write this blog post which is sort of my version of a parade.

If I may be so pedantic, call your own relatives and tell them how awesome they are.

3 Responses to “Cancer-free.”

  1. Sherri said

    Cancer is such a horrible thing and the treatments not much better. Having watched the effects on Dad was terrible. The good thing is that you have the opportunity to create more wonderful memories with you Dad.
    It is amazing the wonderful memories we have of our Dads. Since our Dads worked together at the highway department, I too have lots of memories of my Dad and the calculator at dining table. I connect the calculator with things that he taught me. Because of it, I was so excited when I got my first scientific one. It made math even more fun (guess that makes me a nerd).

  2. Jo Johns said

    I love good news!!!! Yes, let’s have a celebration party and schedule it in late October so I can join you.

  3. Becca Seay said

    Wow, I don’t think I’ve seen that cowboy picture of your dad. It is great. That’s how he looked when your mother fell in love with him. Can’t tell you how happy, and at the same time, sad that makes me. I think it makes me sad because I know those times are gone, but they are good memories.

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