Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cancer and the Whoopee Cushion


Michael Di Gesu is hosting the Big C bloghop. The stories will be published in an anthology to help pay the medical costs for Melissa Bradley's cancer treatment. I am proud to be included, even though my story is a day late. I hope you enjoy it. It's dedicated to my daidí (daddy). 







                                     

                                          Cancer and the Whoopee Cushion



“It’s cancer,” Dad’s voice sounds steady and unwavering.
Mine, on the other hand, is as shaky as the California ground I’m standing on. After listening to him explain the chemotherapy versus radiation, I finally manage to say something. “I’m coming home. I’ll grab a flight out asap, Dad.”
After I hang up, I call my husband.
“You should go. I hold the fort down here.”
“Then it’s settled,” I mumble.
I make reservations and pack my bag. Before I know it, my plane lands in my hometown, Key Largo Florida.
I check my face in the mirror before moving off the plane. Red, swollen eyes, won’t do. I grab a wipe from my purse and clean my face with it before snapping my purse shut and trudging down the ramp.
There’s Dad. Shaking his head at me.
“Last one off the plane. It figures.” He smiles and pats me on my back. He’s still my dad−still so strong. How could he have cancer? He’s never been sick a day in his life.
The treatments begin right away. There is no time to lose when you’re facing the big C, Dad’s doctor says.
Dad has always been a stout Irishman living life to its fullest. He’s the go to person in our family when someone needs a boost. But as I look at him now going through the chemo he seems so fragile. Like he could break.
“Dad, eat a little more than that,” I urge him on. But it doesn’t work.
“Sorry, honey. No appetite.”
Day after day we traipse into the cancer center for his treatment. Night after night he’s in the bathroom throwing up.
And I clean. Because he’s my dad. I scrub the bathroom at least five times a night. While he goes back to bed, I sit on the floor and feel the cold sweat mixed with warm tears seeping down my face. I call my husband for comfort. He always says the right things.  
Dad’s skin is the color of paste. He is a shell of his healthy self. I thought the treatments were supposed to make him better. I suck it in and smile at him. He needs to see a positive attitude.
It gets harder and harder to do that. But I keep on.
For him.
Until finally, the chemo ends.
I wait to see if he regains his strength before deciding when to fly home.
He doesn’t. Not really.
But the thing that amazes me is his sense of humor. He’s still pulling the same jokes on me that he always did when I was a kid. He’s made great use of the whoopee cushion.
He still tells his endless stories about the good old days.
He still chuckles in that same way he always has, and the most important part is his eyes still have that sparkle. Never mind the pasty skin. Those eyes of his still gleam when he looks at me.
I dub Dad my inspiration. He is serious about kicking cancer.
He wakes up early and brings me breakfast in bed.
I hear him humming during the day, so I start singing our favorite song Danny Boy. The next thing I know we’re dancing through the living room.
“I wonder if the neighbors hear our shenanigans?” I ask him.
“Don’t mind if they do,” he says.
Every day we dance through the house singing Danny Boy at the top of our lungs. Never mind that we can’t sing. We think we can.
Every trip back to the doctor brings news we’d rather not hear. But it doesn’t affect our dispositions. We stop at a restaurant and have coffee and pie, and he tells me his stories. I map them out in my head. I don’t want to forget any of them.
He laughs his Irish belly laugh and the entire restaurant turns and stares. Dad doesn’t even notice.
We take walks in the rain.
We buy balloons and write notes to God and send the notes to Heaven.
We eat ice cream at three o’clock in the morning because we can.
Sometimes I think he’s cured. But even if he isn’t. He believes in his head that he is. So he has me believing it too.
He is beating the cancer one story at a time. Every time he tells another one he says he feels better than the day before.
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I only see the glow in his face today. That’s enough.
My attitude gets better. Now I only scrub the bathroom once or twice a night. I always walk him back to his bed after washing his face, and I listen to his stories about the old days. Even though it’s dark, I can feel the sparkle in his eyes as he watches me double check for that whoopee cushion.




54 comments:

  1. Hope he keeps up the good fight.
    One thing that's consistent among those who do fight it - a sense of humor.

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  2. Thanks, Alex. I see that too. The sense of humor cures a multitude of woes. Thanks for reading, my friend.

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  3. Ahhh, such a sweet story. Daughters and their daddies... a special bond. May laughter indeed be the best medicine!

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  4. And that whoopee cushion, Bish. Thanks for reading, pal.

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  5. The love, worry, sadness, hope, and humor really shine through here. So touched!

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  6. Thanks, T! So glad you came by to read it. xoxo

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  7. HI, Robyn,

    We have to admire their spunk.... Keeping up the laughs in the face of death... Laugher is the best medicine after all...

    A real and inspirational story, Robyn. Thanks for sharing it with us...

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  8. It did me good to write it. Laughter can make most ills go away for a time, Michael. Much better medicine than yucky old pills. Thanks for reading.

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  9. Keeping your humor and perspective is such a key! We can be the strength for others when they have none. I truly believe that. :)

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  10. That was beautiful! So bittersweet and hopeful. I feel honored that you shared it with us.

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  11. What a lovely bond you have with your Daddy and how nicely you described it. I can hear the laughter and "Danny Boy." I'm so sad he is going through this and I wish him all my best. May he continue to laugh, love and recover! Big love and hugs to you and to him, BBF. Keep those laughs coming :-)

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  12. Hey EJ!! You speak the truth. Love and humor can just about get us through anything.

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  13. Teresa, you made my heart smile. Thank you, friend.

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  14. Thanks for sharing. In August, I lost a friend to Cancer. Oh, he made me laugh with the obit he wrote. Virtual hugs my friend.

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  15. Geez, Stacy. I didn't know. I'm so sorry. But see? His humor helped you through his passing.

    Virtual smooches and hugs to you, my sweet pal.

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  16. So glad you could be with your dad through his treatments. I'm sure that helped him keep his positive attitude.

    I think attitude helps a lot when you go through something like this. It certainly helped my sister when she went through her 15 year battle with breast cancer, most of the time on chemo. She was such an inspiration.

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  17. Your story had a lot of emotion in it, Robyn. I truly believe laughter is the best medicine. Second to hope/prayer. Thanks for sharing this with us. I hope he continues to laugh and share stories. <3

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  18. Oh gosh, Natalie. That is a long time to battle cancer. It sounds as though your sister's battle picked you up. Isn't that the way it is? They pick us up.

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  19. We did a lot of praying, Chrys. But the laughter and the music. That kept us going. Those times can be so dark. Laughter and music makes it all better. Thanks for reading.

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  20. Hi Robyn! *waving*
    I loved your story, and the thousand tiny details of special moments woven throughout - "his eyes still have that sparkle"
    "singing our favorite song Danny Boy"
    "his Irish belly laugh"..... shenanigans, the singing, the coffee, the pies, balloons, walks in the rain, ice cream at unearthly hours, notes to God...
    Really beautiful.
    Writer In Transit

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  21. Keep being strong for him. He knows you are and loves you for it...as you love him for being strong for you. I give you lots of credit for writing this. So much to face.

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  22. Great story, Robyn, and I really admire the whole attitude. To continue to be positive under such duress is a real testament to your spirit. Kudos!

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  23. I love the attitude and emotion in this. Wonderful piece, so sweet.

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  24. Michelle, SO GOOD TO SEE YOU!!!!!!!!!! Thank you. You made my heart smile. You'll never know what your comment did for me. Miss you. HUGE HUGS. *waving back*

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  25. Liza, thank you so very much. Your words mean so much to me. Thanks for reading.

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  26. Yvette, thanks, Yvette. Your positive attitude throughout Sam's sickness is a testament to your strength. I mean that. xoxo

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  27. Medeia, a thousand thank yous Hug, hug, hug!

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  28. What a touching story, Rob. It's wonderful that his sense of humor shines through in spite of everything - laughter is the best medicine :)

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  29. It really is, Sus. Laughter makes everything better. You know I love to giggle. That's where I learned it from. My sweet daidí. Thanks for reading, my friend.

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  30. Iza, BBF, I thought I had responded to your comment. Imagine my horror when I realized I hadn't. GAH!

    I heart you my sweet friend. Thank you for your wishes. YOU make my heart grin. Love you sweet, BBF.

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  31. What a great story! I love that there is humor in it too. Hard to hear a whoopee cushion and not laugh. :)

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  32. This is such a beautiful story! Tear jerker, yanks my heart strings, the whole works. Whoopee Cushions are one of my fave pranks! Love, love, love this. So well done! XO

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  33. Your dad is so lucky to have you taking such good care of him! This is a deeply moving story, Robyn. Hope you keep dancing with your dad for many years to come! Don't forget to take care of yourself too.

    Julie

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  34. Hi Robyn - a wonderful post and reading about all the special times you've had .. and will be having - do you get down to see him now?

    Dads are special and those extra times we get to spend with near and dears who are ill can be so uplifting ... and give us a happy memory bank. The thought of the two of you dancing and singing at the tops of your voices - just so much fun ...

    Whoopee cushions - do just make us laugh don't they .. as do all the snippets you give us - laughter is definitely the best medicine ...

    Thanks for sharing with us .. cheers Hilary

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  35. Jess, whoopee cushions do bring out the fun. Haha. Thanks for reading. Thanks for liking my story too. Hugs.

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  36. Lynn, I figured you're a whoopee cushion gal. Thanks for reading my story. Your words made my insides feel all warm and cozy. You know I need that right now. xoxoxoxo

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  37. Julie, thanks. That means a lot. I will always love my daidí. He's such a huge part of who I am today. Thanks for reading.

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  38. Hil, mwah! Thank you for reading. Laughter is a cure for so much. Love your words, "Happy memory bank." That's what it is. xoxo

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  39. Oh Robyn, that's beautiful. I absolutely love it. These entries are hard for me to read, but so sweet. I think everyone has been touched by cancer at some point, some of us more deeply than others, but even with the sorrow, there is joy. Thanks for bringing that out.

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  40. Thanks, Crystal. That means so much coming from you. There is joy. (Whoopee cushion joy.) :-)

    Hugs, my friend.

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  41. You dad sounds so sweet and a charmer. ;) Thanks for sharing.

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  42. Holly, he has always been a charmer. And sweet and a gentleman. Thanks for reading. :-)

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  43. I'm glad he's keeping his spunk. Hugs and positive energy to you and your dad.

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  44. Mary, thanks so much. Spunk is a great word for people who have cancer. Thanks for reading. Love the hugs.

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  45. Robyn, your dad has a great attitude about life. What an inspiration he is. Thanks for sharing his story.

    (((HUGS))) to you my friend!

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  46. Thanks, Susanne. I guess you have to have a great attitude. That is what brings you through it. Thanks for reading, my friend. Hugs back to you.

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  47. Your dad got you with the whoopee cushion multiple times? The man's a genius! I'm sure that if I were to meet him, we'd get along! ;) Great story - great cause! :)

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  48. You and he would be very good pals. Trust me on that. I see many similarities. i.e. The haiku you left me on a blog post which gave me the giggles. Plus, the donut usage. ;-)

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  49. In this situation the only thing we have control of is our attitudes - let the whoopie cushions rip!

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  50. I love the way you think!!! It's all about the attitude.

    Thank you for reading, Nicki.

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  51. Hi Robyn, I kept the email about this post as I wanted to read it. I am so glad I did keep it. The story about your relationship with your dad reminds me of my relationship with mine. This was a beautiful, touching piece sprinkled with wonderful things like the letter to God and eating ice cream at 3:00 a.m. I hope your dad recovers. Simply beautiful, Robyn.

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  52. Hi Robyn, I kept the email about this post as I wanted to read it. I am so glad I did keep it. The story about your relationship with your dad reminds me of my relationship with mine. This was a beautiful, touching piece sprinkled with wonderful things like the letter to God and eating ice cream at 3:00 a.m. I hope your dad recovers. Simply beautiful, Robyn.

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  53. Hi Robyn, I kept the email about this post as I wanted to read it. I am so glad I did keep it. The story about your relationship with your dad reminds me of my relationship with mine. This was a beautiful, touching piece sprinkled with wonderful things like the letter to God and eating ice cream at 3:00 a.m. I hope your dad recovers. Simply beautiful, Robyn.

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