For many days I’ve been feeling autumn’s pull, even if the temps are warm. It was like this in England, around the beginning of August, when the long summer days began that fall-like shift. But fall there is autumn, a term which has followed me back to America, still clinging tightly. Summer is the same, trying to reaffirm its grip, but autumn hovers in the manner of how shadows fall, in the cooling of the evenings, in kids going back to school.
For all intents and purposes, summer is over.
However, being this is California, warm days will linger until November. Still, I started out this day in jeans; I haven’t worn jeans first thing since, oh my goodness, May? It’s been so dang hot in Silicon Valley this summer that even typing the word autumn feels ominous, like it won’t appear, rain won’t fall… Well, rain might not fall, but that’s a defeatist attitude, and since Dad’s chemo has ended, I’m trying to keep an optimistic mindset. Dad’s pretty darn upbeat, I should be too.
When I tell someone my dad just went through nine rounds of chemo, automatically they give me a worried gaze, which is probably normal. But having weathered that storm all spring and much of summer, now it feels strange, for chemo is done, Dad’s already thinking about the next weapon in the battle. Radium treatments are the most likely armament, and he was mulling those over well before chemo ended. The strange part is that none of this is going to cure him; prostate cancer has moved into his bones, and in a month, we’ll know just how much further that illness has invaded. Dad’s getting another bone scan, for his PSA went up to 16 after a low of 6.2. I realize these are small numbers, PSA-wise, but it was disappointing that as soon as chemo ended, the PSA shot right back up. We’d all been hoping for a reprieve, maybe a few months’ worth even.
Of course, this is much harder on my dad and mum than on any of us kids and grand-kids. But as a family we share in their trials, also in Dad’s triumphs. His willingness to dive back into the world of cancer treatments amazes me, for how all-out lousy he felt with chemo’s eight and nine. He’s not even back to feeling 100% yet, although his appetite has returned. Sometimes after a meal he feels sick, his legs are still weak. It hasn’t even been two months since his last dose of Taxotere, but here he is, investigating the next option. Life is short, I can hear him saying; you gotta git ‘er done.
Life is a season of many taskings, from novels and quilts to treatments and road trips. Sports come and go; football is right at the door, waiting for summer to wind its way into the past, autumn entrenched by falling leaves and dropping temperatures, and in some parts of this nation, an odd wetness that falls from these rather strange-looking gray blobs in the sky. Oh rain, yes, I remember it well, eleven years of English weather that couldn’t find its way out of a Californian paper bag. As this autumn knocks on the door, I’m thankful the words continue to tumble like sodden British days that made me pine for sunny American days that now make me ache for soggy English days and…. And on it goes, cycles of this and that and the next available cancer treatment. But I’m thankful for those treatments, for they mean my dad has something to anticipate, they mean he’s still around.
One of these pre-autumnal days, he won’t be.
But then, neither will I, isn’t that a mouthful? No one lives forever, which is even more reason to get the words down, sew the quilts, write a blog post. Okay well, perhaps not that last one, or maybe. Maybe you get what I’m saying here, which is more than weather and PSA numbers, but the fragility of the whole kit’n’kaboodle. It’s a precarious thing, life, for what we accomplish, for what remains undone. I have a quilt staring at me right now, with an unattached binding wondering when in the heck I’m gonna get off this darn computer and get my fanny perpendicular back to the sewing table.
It’s a colourful thing, so maybe the binding blends into it, but I can see it, out of the corner of my right eye. And more fabric beckons, as does tomorrow’s chapter of The Hawk, in which this writer finally moves the cast into 1963. But now 1963 is fifty-one years ago, fifty-one years! How does time move that quickly, how are we supposed to get sorted all that needs to be accomplished?
Git ‘er done indeed, as my dad would say. Because one of these days, believe it or not, 2014 will be fifty-one years in the past. I’ll be… Oh good grief, let’s not go there. Instead, let’s return to the mountain from the top of the post, a peak my husband sometimes climbs, a peak recently made even more accessible by a car park just opened for all from eight in the morning until an hour past sunset. A few nights ago my hubby drove us up there, and I purposely didn’t look past the front windscreen as he did so.
Yet, the view is stunning, all of Silicon Valley spread out like a vast English rain cloud. It’s 2014, my dad is seventy years old. I’m forty-eight, with words to write, comforters to sew, love to give. Cancer to address, a family to support, and rain to hope for, amid other things…