In 1997 my father passed away after a tragic last month at home battle with skin cancer. My brother Wayne and I were just sickened by making funeral arrangements during his last two days but they were required because of my brother living so far away and my Mom being just a tragically heart broken soul. My brother returned to his family in Connecticut and sure enough my Dad died in the early morning hours that followed.
The next day, Monday, was spent picking up my wife from the airport to help my grieving Mom, as well as notifying out of town relatives. Tuesday came, and with it the first viewing at the Funeral Home at 7pm.
I got a call from my friend Gary from Washington DC about an hour before the viewing. I had worked with him at Ritz Camera in Washington in the 80's and we became fast friends. He said how sorry he was to hear of my Dad's death...we were all hunting pals through out the past decade. He asked me "So where was the funeral home?" I told him it was a friend's place right here in Ellwood. He replied, "No, I figured that, I am in Ellwood, I need the address of the place..."
I was just in shock that he had made the trip. He had found out of his death through the secretary at Ritz. I hadn't got around to calling friends yet and I felt kind of funny doing so.
Gary had taken three vacation days and borrowed his Mom's car to make the trip unannounced. And over the next three days I can't tell you how supportive it was to have him nearby for an escape, a hug, or a laugh.
A week ago today I got a round a bout email from a mutual friend of mine, Michael, and Gary through my brother and my work email address. My home email and phone service was interupted because of a billing mix up with Verizon, my DSL ISP and Vonage, my home phone provider (Did I tell you that I hated needles AND public utilities?). Michael said he was trying to get a hold of me and I should contact him. I did not like the sound of this and I called Mike right away.
It seems that Gary had gone to the Movies the previous Friday and while there, had a fatal heart attack. Dead on the spot at age 49. To make things worse---if they could be---I had missed all of the funeral services that happened that Sunday. Gary was gone. I was just crushed.
I looked up his obit in the Washington Post, printed it, and took it upstairs to show Kim who was on the phone with her Mom. She read it and we just made that horrible eye contact that brings the really deep tears. We three had been friends for 20 years, and I more like 27 years. Gary had taken our wedding pictures in 1992, and he had visited with us countless times in both DC and here in Ellwood.
Over the past 4-5 years Gary had become very political. I would say he was radically Conservative. I of course am a hopeless Kennedy Liberal throwback Child of the 60's Hippie wanna be. Gary and I would get into incredible email tussles in regards to our differing views; he a staunch McCain-Palin supporter, with me unwaveringly in support of Barack Obama. Oh it could get ugly...but in the end we always agreed to disagree, and kissed and made up...so to speak.
These political tiffs could never outweigh the friendship we had. I exposed him to firearms and target shooting (Yes, me, the Kennedy Liberal...but a Western PA Kennedy Liberal)for the first time, that became Gary's greatest passion. What fun we would have when he would come up for a "vacation" or two over the summers...at the target range or in the fields nearby hunting groundhogs. (Sure hope St Peter is not a groundhog).
Gary got such a kick coming to Ellwood City. What a stark contrast to his Metrpolitan upbringing in Silver Spring, MD. He used to say that "..it was five o'clock in DC, four o'clock in Chicago, and 1957 in Ellwood City..." How right he was.
I'm still in shock over losing him. I talked with his mother last Tuesday and it just broke my heart even more. Rose Kennedy said that the most unnatural act was for a parent to bury a child. Kim's parents did it with her younger brother Mark seven years ago, and I witnessed that heartbreak first hand. Now Gary's Mom Carol was struck with the shock of losing her son so suddenly. Carol is such a Saint! During the height of my Chemo and radiation treatments, she sent me homemade chicken soup overnight delivery that I am sure has had to do with my recovery!
For her, my grief and sorrow is complete. I had not seen her or talked with her since the late 80's but email kept us close over the years.
So my internet friends, would you find the time to pray for my dear friend Gary, and even moreso for his loving and grieving Mom, Carol? I have lost a great friend. She has lost a loving son. The world has lost a good Man. God bless you and keep you Gary...and you as well Carol. We love you!
Hi dear readers!
Just a note to let you know that I am still out here working, treating, living, loving, and praying. Another CT Scan first week of March, so I sure would appreciate all those prayers.
After that scan's Dr report a week or so later, I will bring you all up to date on what has occured since my "Gary" post....lots has happened to be sure.
Thanks for stopping by,
Wow has it been a long time since I have really tended to this site, and I am way overdo.
Sometimes after a long hiatus it's hard to know where to start. I guess first should be to say that I am doing well. Last summer I dealt with a reoccurance as a CT scan saw "something unusual" about my right adrenal gland. That led to a CT guided biopsy, which was inconclusive. The normal treatment at that point was to remove the gland, which they did with an arthroscopic procedure.
As Kim relates her post op with the surgeon, she states that there wasn't a tumor as much as a "spot" that showed as cancerous cells/growth. The doctor held the opinion that the gland showed that this abnormality looked "old" to him and may have been concurrent with the original time period of the lung tumor.
Well anyway, that led to another course of chemo "just as a safety measure." For as well as the first two courses of chemo went, this course went very badly. As before, I had to work during the 1 week on the chemo, three weeks off, 1 week on, three weeks off, and one last week on to finish up. I was just so sick.
Light headedness, nausea, cold sweats, fatigue off the scale, all were my constant companions for the better part of three months. A dear friend and one of my customers in a Giant Eagle photo lab later told me in the sweetest way she could, "I felt so bad for you, when you came to our store you just looked so sick you looked green." It's no fun being green....
I have been referred to in many ways in my life, but this was the first time I was described as green. This was during the first two months of this year. Since I have recovered pretty much fully and two CT scans have been clean so far this year.
The big deal in this time period was the tragic loss of my father in law, George. It was the result of about 8-9 months of a diagnosed bout with pancreatic cancer. He died on Fathers Day at age 71, way too soon. But with my case being an example of how well things can go, his was exactly the opposite, costing him not only his life, but it cost Kim her Mother, Sister, and two of her three neices and nephew. I can't even put into words the horror my poor wfe Kim went thru, and just how ugly people can be during these times of stress. Details here would have to be with her permission.
About a month from now I will be facing another CT Scan and as always, I sure hope some of the readers can share me in their prayers. I WILL relate the power of prayer that came to my wife's aid in her dramatic struggle over the past 11 months. Prayers for her welfare would also be so greatly appreciated.
All for now gang. I will be back to recount some of my adventures over the past year and the parade of UNBELIEVEABLE treatment circumstances. Thanks for checking back in and I am glad I have your interest and support. I will open up the blog for responses again, until the spam comes back.