My mom’s dad died a few weeks before my 11th birthday. I watched this big strong man who literally built most of a city (there’re streets in Titusville, Fl named for my grandfather, his brother, and their children because they built so much of the town) waste, wither, and die from cancer. It started with a malignant melanoma on his face and it spread throughout his body, leading him to a slow & painful death. Then on Christmas Eve just two years later I got a call telling me my father’s mom had gone to sleep and her heart had just given out, with no warning. In my final year of high school, my mom’s mom developed a rare rapid onset melanoma in her brain and we did hospice care at home. I was grateful to get to be there for her in those last days.
Now I’m 41, sliding towards 42 in December, and thinking about the next 15 years. My father’s 68, mean and stubborn as his father, and blessed with the old man’s health. Mom’s made it to 63, and is doing relatively OK. But like I said I’ve got a host of issues, and I am broke and have no way to access any kind of medical care or treatment. Basic nutrition & a few other things others take for granted in terms of regular care are out of reach due to my present situation, which doesn’t improve my chances. My prospects for a solid living situation and regular sustenance level care for the foreseeable future aren’t spiffy. Add to that the research that shows people without a solid social circle and/or relationship don’t last as long, and my lack of prospects for either, and, well…
So in the midst of all that being on my mind, I heard from my mom tonight. Her younger sister, my 59 y/o aunt, is in the middle of some really painful & ghastly treatment for a rare melanoma that’s sprouted in her left eye, one they’re trying to treat before it can metastasize to her brain. It’s entirely possible it’s the same thing that killed her mom and that she (my grandmother) didn’t notice in time because she was already blind in one eye from a childhood accident. Even with early detection my aunt’s odds aren’t great, and she’s on a treatment course that’s doing awful things to her. Treatment, I might add, that I could never obtain if I needed it. Worst of all, my mom’s been having eye problems they haven’t been able to identify, so now she needs to go get checked.
A few hours after hearing that from mom, I found out a model friend of mine’s father passed away from cancer. She’s noted that she’s lost a number of relatives to it & is doing some benefit work to raise money for treatment & research. Those of you who know Wara won’t be surprised by the response, she’s a strong & wonderful lady.
My response is, admittedly, a bit more selfish. I have to look at this & wonder how long do I have. 15 years seemed like a long time when I was 15 & didn’t think I’d make 30. Now that I’m almost 42 & wondering if I’ll make 59, I look at my life where I’ve accomplished very little, and where most of my dreams & goals, even the simple ones, are unmet & unlikely to be met, and 15 doesn’t seem so long. Although knowing I’m likely to be alone for most of them makes me wonder how bad that’ll be.