Friday, April 29, 2011


It’s an insidious black, squirmy, wriggly beast, a grotesquely monstrous thing that stalks at will the halls and walls inside the 72 year old man’s body.  The ravenous spawn attaches its deadly spore wherever it stops, feeds off healthy organs in a frenzied orgy of activity – growing larger, stronger, more powerful with each pulsating movement.  Like the glutton it is, after a gorging, the brute rests for a while before finding a fresh spot upon which to feed and feed and feed again in its determined attempts to suck the life out of my stepfather.

Twenty three years ago, my father died of brain cancer. Twenty one years ago my brother introduced my mother to a wonderful man – they fell in love at first glance. Twenty years ago they married.  They have the most beautifully romantic marriage I’ve ever seen.  

My father was, well, let’s just say even though he was there, he was only a biological father to me.  My stepfather, however, is the true father of my heart.  I admired his strength of character, his faith, and mostly his treatment of and love for my mother, right from the start.

Pa, as I call him, is the guiding force in our family.  He is the one who dispenses sage counsel upon request but doesn’t offer unless asked.  He has a heart as big as Texas and freely gives of his talents and time to whoever is in need at the time, be they friend, family or stranger.  His faith is the quiet, deep kind.  Everyone always remarks how good they feel just being around him; everyone who’s ever met him invariably makes a comment about what a ‘good’ man he is.

I just got a phone call from my mother about two hours ago: Pa has cancer – again.  In fact, this is the fourth time in the last three years this yellow-bellied leech has attacked him.  This time, the fiend has dropped its seed in both lungs.  The blot of ugliness has already feasted on Pa’s colin, bowel and kidney.

However, Pa is a fighter.  He draws his personal courage from his faith.  He’s never uttered a defeatist word in his battle against this bruisingly dreadful ogre...not during the many surgeries, not during the painful recovery periods, not during the chemo treatments, not during his darkest moments has he ever shown any sign of surrender to this epoch adversary. 

My heart is heavy today for what I know Pa will have to once again endure in the next few days and weeks and months. 

At the same time, my heart is joyous in the knowledge that regardless of the arrows it may sling, the rocks it may throw, the blows it continues to deliver - this bastard called cancer will never fell the spirit of the giant I call Pa.

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