Difficult Conversations


I am typing from my laptop as my desktop is in big trouble. Ordered the portable hard drive, and when I am not working all the time, I will take the back off my computer and see if my fan is malfunctioning. That would be a relatively easy fix. If it isn't, I will check to see if it is dirty inside, give a spray of canned air, and if it is still malfunctioning and giving me the black screen of death and safe mode, then I know soon it will soon have to be laid to rest. In the meantime, I need to get my files off it!

I have this great headset which I wear when I talk on the phone while I am working in the studio. It is hands free, the receiver clips onto my pants or fits neatly in my pocket, and is one of the best investments I have made. The battery on it goes forever, which can be a disadvantage at times as I don't have the excuse that the phone is dying, and I fade into the air waves. (I have a phone that gives 3 warning beeps and then I am gone...)

Yesterday I had a lot of work to do, and I was alone all evening, so I called my aunt. I am usually prepared for a long conversation with her, thus the headset.
One thing led to another, and soon the discussion about why wait to buy a nice car lead to events surrounding the death of my father at an age younger than I, some 31 years ago.

In May of my second semester at college, right around finals time, my father developed stomach problems and started feeling horrid. The family doc did all kinds of tests, finding nothing. Because my family was connected to people in NY, he traveled down to the city for more tests, which promptly confirmed that his body was riddled with cancer. Doctors suspect that the swine flu shot of 1976 had something to do with his condition. My research cannot confirm this.

The doctors got him well enough to leave the hospital after a month so he could come home for Father's day. By mid July he was dead.

I did spent time with him that last month, where we would sit around the dinner table and pretend nothing was wrong. No one told him he had cancer and was going to die...the decisions of family and doctors. It robbed us of being able to come to terms with some of what had gone wrong within our "perfect little family", possibly forgive, and maybe, just maybe, to love.

His death was traumatic to me. Hearing details I never knew bought back all those old feelings of loss, anger, sadness,and guilt. Thirty years later I still can't talk about it without falling apart. I have never been to his grave.

A year ago my 23 year old daughter was diagnosed with LMS a rare and deadly form of cancer. I worked hard to heal all of our wounds, and have a fabulous relationship with her. Perhaps the pain of the past had a purpose...and I have made things right in the present with her, and in some ways, with him.

This Saturday, ironically, is the opening of the art show at BSP in Kingston called "Touched by Cancer". I have three pieces in the show. One on the death of my father, one of the illness of my daughter, and one on the hope of healing. I will post the invite later in the week.

Oh, and after the phone call ended (thank God she had to go to the bathroom!) I called her sister, my other aunt, and ended the evening with a delightful conversation about books and movies. She too has cancer, bone cancer, but has survived it thus far. Though partially invalided, her Irish will is strong, she maintains a positive attitude, and uses her wheel chair to navigate the city streets and to help support her while she shops. (she won't sit in it, she claims it is better than a walker, and holds a bunch of stuff!!)

Patti o Survivor

ps a detail of the piece I am doing on Megan...encaustic/mixed media assemblage.

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