Saturday, September 19, 2009

Twilight Zone Memories ...

This is probably the physically weakest I've felt during this whole chemo ordeal. My legs can barely carry me up the stairs. I tried to open a can today with our can opener and I almost couldn't do it. An empty dinner plate feels like a 10 lb weight.

I slept off and on most of the day. Chemo. Benedryl. Probably both of those combined make me especially sleepy. Dozy. Dizzy. I'm calmer today, though, and not so despairing. That's good. I'm just taking it one moment at a time and will hopefully sleep a lot of these moments away.

I'm not sure now that the Benedryl is working. My face is still hot, red, puffy and itchy and now it's moving down the sides of my neck. If it doesn't improve by Monday, I'm going to try to see my oncologist about it. It looks more "rashy" now.

Kevin thought it would be good to get me out of the house tonight so we went for a drive. He was right. It was good to get out for a bit. We just drove around and then we did Kevin's favourite thing ... we went through the carwash ... the new Co-op one on Clarence.

I spent a lot of time thinking about my Dad today. In our family, I think he and Hannah are the ones who, in other circumstances, would have been the most likely to have made their way in the world as mentalists or, at least, touring with a psychic fair. That's what Hannah and her Grandpa most have in common. I've never seen such a 6th sense in my brothers or myself, but in my Dad and Hannah it's almost eerie.

When I was about 8 or 9 our family went to the Calgary Stampede because my school unit's marching band was taking part in the Stampede Parade and my brothers were both involved with that. We later went to the fair grounds and something significant only for it's total insignificance always stuck in my head about that. I don't know where the rest of my family was at the time - maybe they were standing beside us - but I remember standing beside my Dad and watching the Bobsled ride. The music was very loud and they were playing "Clap for the Wolfman". For some reason, whenever I hear this song I think of that moment. Why? I have no idea. There is no reason for this memory to be taking up space in my brain. How many other rides have I been on or watched and I don't remember the music that was playing! Because of it's total insignificance, I have never mentioned this to anyone. Until ... until one day when my own kids were little and we were in the car with my Mom and Dad driving from the lake to the farm and that song came on the radio and I started to say, "Whenever I hear this song, I remember ...". Before I could finish the sentence, my Dad interrupted with my exact memory. I was a little freaked out because why on earth would I remember such a thing let alone anyone else?

When my Mom and Dad were in the States not so long ago, my Mom bought Dad a package of underwear in preparation for their bus tour to Alaska. When they opened the package, a small piece of paper fluttered out. It was one of those little "checked for quality" things but have you ever seen one with a checker's signature? I never have. I've only ever seen ones with numbers. This one had a signature and not only was it my name, at a glance even I would think it was my own cursive signature. Bizarre! I still have that little piece of paper. It still looks like my signature.

One afternoon, I was driving Hannah to her voice lesson when I noticed that one of my fingers was numb from the tip to the bottom of the nail bed. I pinched it a few times and then hung my arm down and shook it in an effort to get the blood circulating but still it stayed numb. I looked at it and it was ghostly white where it was numb. I showed it to Hannah. After about an hour the feeling came back. When we got home, I phoned Mom and Dad for no particular reason. Mom answered and said they'd just walked in the door. They'd been to Eston. I asked if they had Doctor's appointments, which is why they usually go to Eston. "N0," Mom said, "your Dad cut the end of his finger off in the table saw". She filled me in on all the gory details ... almost more than I could stomach. It was just the tip. Dad drove. It's all bandaged. Scary. Later, I got thinking about my own finger and phoned Mom back to ask again which finger it was and ... you guessed it ... the same finger and the same depth ... tip to nail bed. Same time, too. How crazy is that?! A few days later I experienced the same numbness in the same finger and I called home immediately. Nobody was home. I called again later to find out they'd been to Eston to have the bandages changed and there had been some problems changing the bandage because it was stuck. There is no explanation for things like this. Is there?

Hannah has always had what I've called incredible "insight" and "intuition" ... but it has often seemed a little deeper than that. Like some 6th sense. And if you've ever seen Hannah listening or watching something that interests her (and almost everything interests her), you'll have seen the focus in her eyes and will have noticed the constant, rhythmic swiveling of her head on her neck while she's absorbing information ... like some antennae tuning in to signals from who knows where. She would sometimes say to me, "Mom, I know what you're thinking", and then she would tell me. And she would be right. You might be able to attribute some of those "guesses" to her sense of logic, but sometimes I would really wonder how she could possibly have guessed. Hannah has always understood things that would seem well beyond her years. Yes, she and her Grandpa are the most "intuitive" in our family, I think. Both mysterious that way.

My Dad's Mom ... my Grandma ... came to Canada from Romania. We had a crystal ball at home that had been Grandma's. I used to romantacize about having a gypsy background but later I learned that Grandma wasn't actually Romanian, she was German and her family had fled Germany and had lived in a German community in Romania. So ... big disappointment ... no Gypsy blood. Still, there are some crazy "psychic" stories from Grandma's side of the family. So maybe this 6th sense, as I call it, is something my Dad and Hannah have inherited.

I think lots of people must have similar experiences but they can be so unsettling, we don't often talk much about them. I don't know exactly where I stand on "psychic phenomena" ... I'm an open-minded skeptic ... but I do think it would be arrogant to believe that the boundaries of my own understanding define the limits of all possibilities.

It's been nice thinking so much about Dad and my family today. I tried to phone Mom to tell her I was thinking about her, too, but she was out. I hope you're out having fun, Mom.



  1. I have been catching up on your story gradually, Heather, and am enthralled with your many species of flowers in your flower garden. Beyond that, you are one brave woman to be keeping an account of your day by day physical and emotional roller-coaster ride. Most of all, your writing flows so easily and draws one in. It is a calling you have heeded and should pursue well beyond this.

    Funny, I tried to phone your Mom tonight too, when memories of Bob seem in the forefront, and I could not get her.

    Cheryl D. Banks

  2. Cheryl! HI!!! I feel very graced to have you on my team, so thanks for that and for your kind words about my writing. Coming from you, that means a lot, you know. Everyone has teachers whose influence lasts a lifetime and you and Jerome are mine. When I hear kids complain about having to study Chaucer, I insist that they would enjoy Chaucer if they'd only had a teacher like mine.

    We have had some very pretty flowers in our garden this year, though I remind everyone that I don't take photos of the weeds and I crop them out if they sneak in. Kevin is really the mad gardener. I'm the assistant. If we have some uncommon species, those are usually his selections. I'm a good deadheader, though, and I do love the blooms. I'm already missing them as things are starting to look quite shabby and spent.

    I'm not familiar with "Moonlight". I'm not especially intrigued with vampires, though I did read some Anne Rice. My favourite vampire novel is "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova, which I initially picked up because it's about a book and a librarian. While I thought the story would have benefited from some further editing, the writing itself greatly overshadowed that. I remember the vampire parts less than the descriptions of the settings.

    That's my book recommendation of the day for everyone. I'd loan it to someone but it's already out.

    Thanks again, Cheryl!


Sorry for the word verification thing. Without the comment spammers are relentless!

Thanks for commenting!