She leaned forward and peered around with her nearly one blind eye … she spoke quietly even though she was in her own living room.
“Your sister’s cancer is in her bones now too.”
I’d gone to visit mom and see how she was doing as it had been over a year and well, she is no young spring chicken any more. For the first time I am seeing mom beginning to turn a bit frail at 82 years old.
Her words stopped my heart cold. Sister had fought breast cancer 16 years ago. In 2009 she was pronounced clean and good to go. A mere 3 years later. Cancer. Liver, spine, kidney, spots in all three places. Chemotherapy once a month might give her time maybe even up to years. She never wanted to talk to me about it. So here I am with a sibling who won’t speak to me who is going through her own personal hell.
I raised my eyebrows, “Jesus,” was all I could muster up as a response. I was thinking curse words too but was silent.
Mom looked at me. “You are not supposed to know. I wasn’t supposed to tell you.”
“Don’t ask me about it ’cause she won’t tell me anything. I don’t know if she is dying fast or slow,” mom said.
Then I proceeded to continue to make phone calls and inquiries as to pet euthanasia costs. Mom’s dog had cancer and the tumors on the outside of the body were almost obscene in appearance. I found a place that would put her dog to sleep and take care of everything else for a reasonable price.
My mom…leaned forward again and this time she actually turned Judge Judy down so I didn’t have to strain to hear her words.
“You know the VA wouldn’t touch Don’s cancer. They let him die. They told him to go home. Why did the VA take care of your husband?” Her eyes bored at me. I realized she was angry with me. My husband was alive and not dead yet. Don had stage IV pancreatic cancer and by the time they found it, nothing could help. Don had been her significant other for many years. He was a creep and a jerk, but he was mom’s creepy jerk. Of course I’d been shut out of that ordeal also. For many years I was on mom’s no speak to list. In fact she told many of her friends that … I had died.
I stood up and walked into her kitchen and grabbed a bottle of New Glarus Beer out of her frig. Someone thank god, had left beer at her house. I popped it open and answered her. “My husband’s cancer was small and in an early stage, it was HPV-16 marked, which is very receptive to chemo and radiation. He may be clear now mom, but…” I shrugged, glancing at her dog who came up to see if I had a treat for her.
Really, here I’d had members of the family who had been dealing with cancer for years. But see I have one of those … families that takes dis-function to new levels.
My mom was angry with me because so far my husband had survived The Cancer. My sister was angry with me because she got The Cancer when I should have gotten it. She never deserved it, I was the problem child, I should have gotten it. [Okay that is how I found out it so many years ago. I’d gone to see her to express my heartfelt concern and she threw me out of the house with mom and her creepy guy looking on.]
Oh well, now you are probably wondering why on earth do I even have anything to do with mom. Because she is mom. Sister? She told me off on that day. She also was angry with me for moving to the other side of the state to follow my dreams. If I call or try to visit, she is too busy, please try again.
Mom didn’t get it. She still blamed me for her Don dying and my guy not dying. My sister, I imagine she’s let go of that grudge from 16 years ago, but who knows?
I wasn’t supposed to tell you…dear reader, how happy I was to get in my car and head west away from Judge Judy blaring and the family curse.