Sunday, November 20, 2005

Getting ready for Thanksgiving
This year, I've been invited to my niece's for turkey and all the fixin's. It's a first for her. At 25, she's gotten settled and ready to grow.
My nephew and my brother's ex-wife are also expected in Rochester, MN. It should be interesting.
My brother was a junk food junkie. As a result, he died of colon cancer Nov. 10, 2003, at the age of 56.
It was all the fat in his diet. Chocolate and hamburgers and pizza, meats and cheeses, etc. That, coupled with the fact that he was frightened (this time) to death of doctors, sealed his fate.
Bob's fear of them began when he was tiny. He was diagnosed with bacteria endocarditis, a hole in his heart. He wasn't given much chance; in fact, my parents were told he'd be lucky to reach two years old. But, thank God, he hung in there. Always, though, because of his early experiences, he avoided doctors. He almost died of a gall bladder problem in 1998; our stepfather had to force him to go to the hospital that time.
As for the idea of getting a regular colonoscopy when he turned 50? There was no way on earth he could have been coerced into it. As a result, by the time they found the tumor, it was the size of a grapefruit.
So, for the next year and a half, he walked around with a colostomy bag. He was surprisingly positive about having to wear it, seldom complaining. He would sit in the San Jose, Calif., sun, while living in my trailer, and bask. He'd had enough of the Minnesota cold. At times he'd go in out of the sun and watch old Westerns on TV.
We'd often meet for coffee. He looked like one of the old sourdoughs in the movies he loved so, with his scraggly beard and plaid jackets. In place of a patient little burro, he had a canvas bag that had his round cushion to sit on, to ease the pain.
Finally it got too much for him. He went and lived with my sister for a few months. Then two Novembers ago, I got the telephone call I'd been dreading. "You'd better get out here quick," my sister warned.
I gathered his son and daughter, then away we went. My girlfriend drove through a nightlong blizzard to Reno, and I took over to get us through the Sierras, steering slowly through the blowing snow, the only four-wheel-drive on U.S. 80 that early morning.
We got to visit with him for a day before he passed away. God rest his soul.

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