Wednesday, November 22, 2006

in memory of...

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

This is not a post about Tuna, whom I still miss every single day.

Thanksgiving is a very strange holiday for me. It is the time of year when I miss my mom the most. I think it was her favorite holiday. She got into it, cooking a huge meal, inviting friends to join us, and there was always a festive air at home. My mother collected people the way she collected animals, people who had had troubles. So in later years, when I would come back from college there would always be strange people mixed with a strange dog or two.

I never made it back to PA for Thanksgiving during my years in Chicago, and now I regret it, because those were the last Thanksgivings for her. About six weeks before Thanksgiving in 1986 she had surgery for recently discovered lung cancer. She had not been well, had been complaining of feeling generally awful, but still it took her doctor months before he ordered a chest xray (how stupid of him; she was a lifelong smoker). The tumor was on the xray was large, and during the exploratory surgery the surgeon found that it was wrapped around her aorta, so there was no way to remove even a small part of it.

After the surgery she was having radiation, and was in good spirits. She told me how during the radiation she would close her eyes and visualize the cancer cells dying. But it was while preparing the usual Thanksgiving feast that she first realized that things were not right. She called me, on Thanksgiving, and I got extremely worried when she said that she kept dropping things, losing her balance (and my mom was extremely coordinated, like all of us, so losing her balance was not a good sign). I remember sitting on the chair in my workroom in that Chicago apartment; it was a gray day like this one, and I felt sick. I had to go with C to her cousins' in Evanston, and I didn't know how I would function. Luckily her cousins were warm, fun people, and they knew that my mom was ill, and I felt comfortable at least, but stunned. The next day her doctor ordered an immediate MRI, and they found a large tumor in her brain. It was the beginning of the end, we all knew it, and that is why Thanksgiving, now, is a sad and happy day. Happy because of memories, but sad because of associations.

Now I am cooking, enjoying a little smoke, and waiting for the piano tuner to arrive.

1 comment:

lodgerlow said...

M, this was another of your sublimely sensitive and perceptive posts. Thank you for sharing it.