Friday, January 27, 2012

Smiling and Nodding on the Fringe

My aunt Dee is my mother's sister.  She and I are only 7 years apart in age.  We are more like sisters than aunt and niece.

My uncle, Aunt Dee's husband is 78 years old.  He wears hearing aids.

He always has a smile for me and a jolly "how ya doin'".   Since I am very soft spoken, I try to exaggerate my mouth movements hoping that will help him to decipher what I am trying to say.

I suspect that sometimes he may pretend to hear every word to avoid having to ask others to repeat what they are saying.  Usually the indication that he is pretending is a smile and a nod.

I wonder if he feels like he is living in a perpetual dead zone, with voices continually cutting in and out.  Does he feel as if he is living on the perimeter of life because most times he is not included in our conversations?

Aunt Dee is a very energetic woman.  She is six years younger than Uncle.  She exercises every day and is in great shape.  Uncle used to be able to keep up with her, but he has developed health problems in the last few years.

Aunt Dee refuses to let Uncle give up on life.   And Uncle still wants to please her so he tries the best he can.

Two weeks ago, Uncle was rushed to the emergency room with severe stomach pains.

The tests results came back.  Uncle has stage IV pancreatic cancer.  Aunt Dee and Uncle were in shock. How could this be?

 I know how that feels.

Uncle was sent home from the hospital to await his appointment and consultation with the doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC.  Aunt Dee is very nervous about that appointment.  She worries about what the doctors will say.

I know how that feels.

Uncle is depressed but Aunt Dee refuses to let him give up.  She fusses over him.  She does everything she can to try to get him to eat.   After all, the doctors told her he needs to build up his strength so that he will be able to tolerate the chemo.  Even though he is very weak, and is walking with a walker, she makes him stand up for a few minutes every hour.  After all, the physical therapist said that would be good for him because he needs to build up his strength.

Aunt Dee is very tired.  She looks scared and seems so tiny and vulnerable.

I know how that feels.

Today we got a phone call from Aunt Dee.  Uncle was again rushed to the hospital.  He is very weak.

When we got to the hospital, Aunt Dee was, of course, by Uncle's side.   She was clutching the note book that contains all of Uncle's medical records including a list of the 8-10 medications he is currently on.

Aunt Dee says she hates emergency rooms and cancer.  So do I.

Uncle was pointing to his hearing aids.  He tells Aunt Dee that the batteries need to be changed.

Aunt Dee is trying to stay strong.  But I can see the look of desperation in her eyes.

I know how that feels.

A nurse came in and asked Uncle how he was feeling.   Uncle just nodded and smiled.

Here is today's entry from Anna's Diary:
Sun. January 27 1929
Dinner at Dr. Bianchi's.  Left Junior there and Jean and I went to church to see Lucietta married.  Had supper at Mothers. Marietta and Corinne there for supper.


  1. LifeinContradictionsJanuary 28, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Many thoughts and prayers heading out to you Lynda and your aunt & uncle.  Heartbreaking.

  2. Thoughts and prayers for you, your aunt and uncle. Let God carry you.