by W. Reese
Story about dealing with & battling Cancer. Testing our limits.
| Every evening for a week, I've been working from 7-8 in the tack room in our barn. Cleaning saddles and tack, checking condition of the trees and the stitching. This had been neglected by me for over two years. The C.D. player would have some mellow music playing softly, as I worked. To me, this was therapy. An hour every night, I could escape the loud voices of thoughts in my head. My concentration, so deep I would barely notice my son entering the doorway. Sometimes, I would hear a plank squeak as he walked through the door. My sixth sense would tell me he was starring at my back. A few minutes would pass, then he would turn mumble something about stubborn old man and stomp off. |
Two years prior, my love, my wife of 25 years was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. For two years I had to be strong, as I watched my hearty, God fearing country girl, grow weaker as we fought the battle. Having Hope that with every surgery, Chemotherapy, alternative medicine & diet treatment, would grant a total remission.
As the bills piled up, our lifestyle changed too! Our meager health insurance policy wasn't worth spit, and creditors don't have any compassion when it comes to money. I had to sell off most of the items it takes to run a farm/Ranch. The last season, I had bring in our crops with barrowed equipment, with the help of my friends and neighbors. We fought the battle for a year and a half, then after a positive remission check-up, my son called me, one morning. "Dad! Mom needs you! Come quick!" "She locked herself in the bathroom, I'm scared!"
When I got to the bathroom door my wife made me send my son away, before she would unlock door. Our son got angry, stormed out of the house, probably thinking at the time we had some deep dark secret we were keeping from him. Actually, my wife had passed some clotted blood, not a vision she wanted to share with him, still retaining some dignity. I loaded her up, and off we went burning up the road to the cancer center. More blood work plus an emergency MRI. The Oncologist (cancer specialist) come into the room about 10am the following morning with the worst news that keeps repeating in my head.
"I'm sorry to be the bearer of this!" he looked back an forth between us, luckily our son had gone to the cafeteria. "Terminal stage 4, the cancer is back and growing at an exceeded rate!" "Now! We can double the rate on chemo and try to knock it back down! There is a 35% chance that may help! If that is what you want to try, but I need to know in the next 30 minutes so I can get you in this afternoon for the first treatment. I'll give you a few minutes." Then he left the room.
I dropped my head and wept, "Oh Lord this can't be happening, thought we had it whipped, not again!" "I'll tell the doctor to arrange the treatment." What my wife said next took me by surprise, she pulled me down and kissed me then said in a soft voice; "No!" "I think we both know it's been a good run, but it is time to fold our hand! There is no bluffing in this card game!" I hugged my wife and cried buckets, she kissed my cheek. "Go on let it out Dad, my turn to be strong for you!" That is what our son witnessed when he returned.
"I'm suppose to be the strong one here!" I told her, hugging and still sobbing.
"I want to go home, get me out of here!" "I want to spend what time is left with the two men in my life."
The next days there was a constant flow of visitors, friends, neighbors, and relatives. I witnessed, her pain growing stronger by the day, robbing her of strength and clarity of thought. The angels came and took another angel home, one week after leaving the hospital.
My Son like me, has a heavy heart filled with grief. He and I have heated arguments because we have no way to ease the massive tension we both feel. I try to work the ranch, to work out the grief, but my son clings to me rambling about nothing, then the heated arguments erupt. Three days I've not spoken a word to him except telling him chores he needs to tend to. Though he tries, I tune him out. Like me he is stubborn and will not apologize, he feels he is the righteous one. .
I can find no peace any day or night except between 7 -8 when I'm tending to the tack. Tonight, I turned on the old FM two way radio, I transmit my call sign wondering if anyone still listens in. Before cell phones we shared a vast community of users and relied on these old radios as a way of contact with the outside world during power outages, phone lines down, major storms, and just a way of having remote contact. (Crackle Crackle) "Read you Robin's nest" "Flying Barn owl here" taken back I didn't know what to say "Robin's nest is everything okay there" "Aye shipshape! just too quiet anymore since the Angels came to Robin's nest! - over" "I think you and I are over due to wet a line and drown some worms, and maybe wet our whistles as well - over" "10-4 Sounds good to me want to make plans and meet up!" Then I added; "Say next Friday weather permitting 2 o'clock at the dock"
"10-4 Sounds good to me I got a fare booked to International Falls Thursday but my calendar is clear afterwards. so So Friday sounds good I'll bring a couple of steaks and a bag of potatoes -over" "10-4 I'll go open up the fishing cabin Thursday and air it out, sounds like a good get away to me" "Plus, I'll bring up the horses so we can fish that stream!" "over and out! on your final"
"10-4 See you at 2 o'clock at the dock Friday" "Flying Barn Owl KLB _ _ _ Good nighty night to all Over and Out!"
Flying Barn Owl (Bob) is an old friend of 40 years and my fishing buddy. Bob has a air commuter service that goes into remote areas hauling mostly supplies, into Folks that live off the beaten path. He fly's a plane with pontoons, so he can land on a runway or water.
A bit later, when my son come to peer in on me he saw a different sight! My saddle on it's roll around rack was in the middle of the room, bit, harness and breast strap draped off the horn saddle bags and scabbard on a chair and I was setting at the bench cleaning my 30-30 and my pistol
"What the heck is going on?" come my son's voice from the door.
"Just getting things ready for tomorrow, I'm going to go check the North fence line tomorrow. Jim called said he found one of our cows and her calf on his place, he said he would meet me at the fence line in the morning" Figured my old horse, needed some exercise too!" "I'll be ridding out about daybreak I thought maybe you would like to hang out around here." I paused for a second to let it sink in. "Mrs. Dawson's daughter is coming by to pick up her horse Maggy in the morning" Before Mom passed, our Son had been working up the courage to ask Tammy Dawson for a date. I did not look at him at all during this time. My son turned to walk away(board creaked) "Hey! I know You're hurting, angry, and feel like you are going to explode, so I'm going to give you some space. When I get back tomorrow, I'm going to load Mom's horse and head to the fishing cabin for a few days." "Bob's going to fly in, I'll be back early Sunday."
Before he could get angry I continued "You ought to think about going & supporting Tammy at her barrel race event, Saturday. That will do three things. You will be around people your own age for one. That will put you one wrung higher on the picking ladder, in her eyes, and give you time away from here! ... Just a thought!" "Hank(our Ranch foreman) can handle anything that comes up, go take a break from Me, and this place, plus it might ease some of the tension."
"I'll think about it, I don't know if she likes me or not!" he looked at the ground "I probably won't be good company!" "Would like to see her Kick Roberta's ass though" "Maggy is fast and strong, I think Tammy holds Maggy back wanting to make every turn perfect." he replied.
"Tammy and Maggy need someone cheering them on, it makes a difference when you have a fanfare!" "Tammy is a nice girl, you could do a lot worse!" "Give it some thought!" It's getting close to my bedtime, I'm going to call it a night. I know I don't say this enough, I love ya, Buddy!"