Thursday, April 07, 2011

Just Another Thirty Years...

Ever since my dad was diagnosed with cancer, he’s been getting radiation treatments from Monday through Friday. They wear him out. He goes in for a few minute at a time and when he comes back home, he sleeps most of the day. His appetite is next to none. He has lost over thirty pounds so far and has completely stopped smoking. He says cigarettes disgust him...(a prayer I prayed a week before he quit mind you.) I prayed that somehow, some way, he would pick up a cigarette and be entirely disgusted to where he would never pick one up again. Now it’s my mother he’s concerned about. We’re all concerned about her. While dad sits inside the waiting room of the clinic to get radiation, he is considered one of the ‘light cases’ there - while others are worse off, some with tumors on their hearts which are inoperable, and others with throat cancer due to smoking. For the first time in my father’s life, he actually sees what smoking can really do to people. For the first time in my father’s life, he’s now asking people around him to stop smoking. I never thought I’d see this day. I recall just a few weeks ago, I had written a post about being angry at my father for continuing to smoke. Since he has stopped, he can now move around better and has more energy due to increased oxygen levels. It’s amazing.

My mom’s been taking care of my dad - trying to cook, clean, and help him with whatever he needs. Since he hasn’t been eating much, her joy in life - her hobby, cooking has come to a bit of a halt. So now, her hobby has been replaced with smoking...much more. She’s stressed, and whenever mom is stressed, she cooks...and cooks...and then cooks some more. Whether it’s cooking for an army or not - the amount is the same. But now, her hobby has somewhat stopped and smoking has now taken its place. Sometimes, I’ll make extra for dinner and run over there with food or buy them sandwiches - whichever they prefer. But mom’s bored. Her highlight of the day is going to the radiation treatments with dad so she can socialize with people in the waiting room. Although that seems ‘grim’ - she actually helps them - talks to them and encourages them. She gives them a glimmer of hope. They walk in sad and hopeless, and walks back out feeling inspired somwhat. She tells me funny stories that happen in there - the lighter side of what goes on in a chemo/radiation clinics. It’s interesting what these people go through. She also tells me the sad part about it - some young, some older, some with nobody home to take care of them. Some already know the ‘time limit’ of their very own lives, while others are encouraged that the treatments will in fact, be the cure.

Yesterday afternoon, I asked my mom if she wanted to go out for lunch. I was expecting a “no”, since she doesn’t like to leave my father at all, but dad was like, “Go, I’m gonna sleep for a while.” We went to our favorite place, and I know she secretly loves to sit at the bar and eat - so I said, “Mom, do you mind if we sit at the bar?” Her eyes lit up with excitement. She loves to talk to people. Everyone she meets seems to gravitate toward her. She ordered her vodka and tonic & a turkey panini. She looked like a little girl sitting at the bar, smiling from ear-to-ear, clenching her arms together with new excitement that I haven’t seen in such a long time. She started talking about grandpa’s bar from way back when and then told me things about her childhood that I never knew about. After she was done eating, she placed her hand on mine and said, “Deb, please pray that I’m able to quit smoking like you did for dad?” She was sincere, but I knew right then and there, she was craving a cigarette. I know addiction is a hard thing to kick, but her eyes told me something different. As we walked outside the restaurant, there’s a section near the deck where people smoke. I gave in and said, “Ma, if you want a cigarette, go ‘head. It’s nice out anyway.” She fumbled through her enormous pocketbook for a long time with her cigarette dangling from her mouth, realizing that she didn’t have a match or lighter to fire it up with. I knew I could have gotten one at the bar, but I didn’t say anything. “It’s alright, I’ve gone all day without one.”

“I dun’ care if ya smoke right in frun' of me - I can’t stand da’ stuff anymore. Ya mudda’ needs to stop smokin’ - I’m worried ‘bout her kid,” my dad said when we got back home. But not only for the sake of just being supportive for my dad, I pray that my mother quits smoking so that she doesn’t have to go through medical treatments due to this awful habit. She’s fine now, but so was my father one year ago. I just wish it would finally sink in. I wish she would look at her surroundings and realize what smoking can really do to her. The cough she has is awful. Her lungs are clearly...not clear. I know this probably sounds really selfish, but I want my parents around for another thirty years. They’re too much fun. If all of my friends & readers can be kind enough to say a prayer that my mom quits smoking, I’ll be forever grateful. I believe prayer is very powerful and I know, that within weeks, I’ll be posting an article about mom finally quitting. I just want another thirty years.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com