I let him know that I was annoyed that I had gotten a second hernia and I wasn’t even forty. He called me back a few days later and said “I win. I have cancer.”. He had been given a three-year prognosis (not the good kind) for colo-rectal cancer before his fortieth birthday. My family and I had recently moved to the mountains of North Carolina and he still lived in the middle of Florida.
I promised him that I would drive down and visit him one weekend a month until he was better. He made it through all three years, many surgeries, many chemos, and radiation but never got better. Jen fully supported me in this even though it drove our business and several vehicles into the ground. Patrick and I spent the weekends watching his favorite, superhero movies, on a television in his bedroom.
On bad weekends, we would watch them in the hospital on the portable TV/DVD player that Jen’s folks had bought for me, especially for this purpose. The hospital personnel were wonderful and let me stay the whole weekend in a chair in his room, ignoring visitor’s hours every time I came.
Patrick never cared for alcohol but he liked a celebratory drink of IBC Root Beer from time to time. He gradually lost his capacity for food over that three year period. The last thing he was able to eat, with anything approaching enthusiasm, was Papa’s (Jen’s father) homemade pizza. Papa, the closest thing I had to a father figure, was also fighting cancer at the time. He lasted a few more years after Patrick’s passing.
So this year, as in all the years since he passed, I will be spending the day watching superhero movies. I will be eating pizza, drinking IBC root beer, and remembering the friends I have lost.
Always treasure the people in your life – they are the only thing that matters.