There are days I feel weepy; that is, like weeping for no apparent reason. I begin a thought, and tears leak from my eyes. What kind of thought? Any kind. It’s snowing … weep. It stopped snowing … weep. It looks like it might snow again … And so on.
I accept it as is, and so does Sheri. It can be a little awkward when someone asks me a simple question, and I answer through tears.
Today, the weeping may be related to the fact that my daughters, Jennifer and Alison, visited us for a couple of days and left this morning to go back to their own families and challenges. The girls, as we call them, are in their 40s.
I am tremendously proud of both of them. They are terrific moms, kind and generous. Jennifer is a pastor’s wife and deals with the responsibilities that entails. Alison is involved in her kids’ schools parent-teacher organization and has served on a local library board. So both give back to their communities.
Sheri and I have been cocooned in dealing with my cancer since the beginning. Friends have helped. Jen, Alison and my stepdaughter, Kristie, who lives in San Francisco, have been involved, of course, but from a distance, because they have their own lives to live.
It was important for the girls to be here, though, because we wanted them to see what my cancer and its treatment look like. There are good days and bad days, and now they know what that actually means. My energy level fades in and out as the day goes along. They saw that. Sheri and I are no longer the only ones who understand.
And we laughed … a lot (weep). We made jokes at each other’s expense, as we always have, and laughed. We talked about my treatment in greater depth so they could get a better sense of what was going to be happening. But we did that within hours of their arrival, and it never really came up again. We gave my illness an appropriate amount of attention, and then talked about other things.
It was a joy having them here. So maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I am weepy today.
Thinking about them as girls, however, brought me to three years ago, when I visited my mother in Scotland after an absence of 50 years. My mother, who was 89 at the time, was quite sick and I wanted to visit her when we could enjoy our time together. Which we did. Except…
I had rented a car while I was there, and one night, I decided to go out by myself. An organization I belong to had a club nearby, and I wanted to see if their meetings were like mine. Off I went, telling my mother I would be home by 9 p.m.
There was virtually no difference in the way the group conducted itself, except the meetings lasted a half-hour longer, so I didn’t get home until 9:30.
I walked in the house to find my mother waiting for me: “Wherrrre have you been?”
“At the meeting I told you about.” It sounded lame even to me, but I was the only truth I had.
“Och aye. And de ye ken what time it is?!?!?!” She didn’t wait for an answer. “Ye should have been home half an hour ago. I’ve been worried sick, so ah have.” She was on a roll now. I just stood there feeling smaller and smaller. “It’s dark oot. Ye don’t know yer way around anymore. Yer no used to driving on the other side of the road.”
She paused for breath, and I offered the only defense I had. “I tried to call you, but the cell phones here are really different and I had all kinds of trouble.”
“Did ye get thrrrough?” I admitted that, obviously, I hadn’t. “Well it disne count then, does it?”
I remembered that I was a 60-year-old man, and I could feel indignation rising. Fortunately, I remembered, 60 or not, I was the baby of my family and stood there and took it like the 7-year-old my mother was addressing.
She eventually ran out of steam, but the next morning I woke to her telling my cousin, “So. Ye’ll never guess what Lord Muck did last night!” Whereupon, I heard all my indiscretions repeated and then repeated again when she called her friend of 71 years to let her know what Lord Muck had done.
Jim Arnold is a copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.
Editor’s note: To read the entire column about Arnold’s fight against cancer, visit his blog, findingthepony.blogspot.com.