The sun is shining today. It is warm, but not too hot. My walk from the RVH parking lot to the cancer clinic was quite pleasant – even without a coat. I’m never too sure if I am warmer than usual because of the scarf I have wrapped around my head to keep my hat in place? Nonetheless, the hat seems to match the new dress I bought yesterday to help me feel better about today’s pre-chemo appointment. I must confess it has worked – to some extent. I do feel lighter than I have for some days now, although I’m not sure whether this is because of the dress or the weather. There seems to be a lot of “not sures” these days. I do, however, have a sense of “move on” even when I am unsure. And that is good. And it is also good that the sun is shining.
People have begun to gather in the foyer of the main entrance now. I have another hour and a half to wait to see my Dr. Singh and my nurse Candy. What better to do than to catch up on my blog posts and to do a mental self-check? So, I ask myself, “how are you doing, Stacey?”.
The lady sitting beside me is slurping her water while checking out her phone. Her hair is jet black. She seems engrossed in her text.
“I’m great”, is the typical answer. Am I great? I do like my outfit today. Good purchase I guess.
It would have been Dad’s birthday today. This occasion was always celebrated with great pomp and ceremony. It is funny how a day that was so significant in my eyes has now been over-shadowed by a trip to RVH cancer clinic. I suppose I should not see Dad’s birthday as having taken second place – it was always such a happy day. It was always marked with delicious and extravagant food. Mom used to plan for weeks and then cook all day. It was her way of telling Dad that she loved him. I learned this from her. I tried to carry on the tradition when she passed away – from the lobster and seafood to the clam chowder soup to the rum cake for desert. Oh, we did celebrate. We tried hard. We toasted to, “good health” with wine. It was never the same, though, without Mom. Her absence was always the elephant in the room. Dad missed her. Especially on days like today – his birthday. I would ask Dad, “How are you doing today, Dad?”
“Great. Nine out of ten.”
A “logistics” man walks through the atrium. His head is slouched down. He doesn’t appear to be very over-excited to be here – but his pace is good. Where is he off to today? What will he fix?
Very seldom was it ever less than nine out of ten. Only when he was closer to the end did the nine slip to a six or a seven. He never complained – at least not to me. And that made a world of difference. He was known to the residents of his building as, “smiley”. Indeed, he always smiled. Well, that is, to everyone but Mom as she was his sounding board. It was always her with whom he confided, vented, and expressed his emotions. Even when she passed away, Dad never “dumped” on me. He never “dumped” on anyone. He was always so happy to see my family and I walk in through his door – and always so sad to see us leave. “Leaving so soon? I hope you come back soon!”
Two grey-haired volunteers walk out of the Cafe Royale. Their blue pinafores are a dead give-away to the fact that they are volunteers. They sit. Open the lids to their teas and take out the tea bags. Eye contact. They speak to one another without any distraction of a phone. How nice to see a “real conversation”. They smile at one another as they speak.
Dad’s love for family was obvious. His love of music, dance, and celebration was also obvious. One of the greatest lessons that he taught me was to, “think of the good things”. He reminded people to look at the bright side of things, to look for the opportunities, and to laugh.
Over to the far corner of the room walks a woman who appears to be a nurse. She is alone. Her pants are bright green. Her blonde hair is pulled back in a semi – bun. She is smiling the whole while she is walking to her table. Her smile lights my heart. She sits and pulls out her paper work to be productive while eating, all the while there sits a semi-half smile on her face.
Lately, I have not been able to laugh. It has been difficult to see the bright side of things. I hear jokes and don’t find them funny – unlike me. I listen to music and am annoyed by the lack of depth in the lyrics – unlike me (most of the time). I write but do not add “grin” – unlike me. I feel like a wet blanket during conversations. I cannot find purpose in small talk and light-heartedness. I think I am living too deeply and need to find my ability to laugh again. Laughter is good for the soul. I need to learn some new jokes.
An older woman, smartly dressed with matching purse and shoes, stands to leave. She smiles at the other woman who has arrived to sit at the table next to her. They exchange a greeting of sorts which seems to profess, “I’ve enjoyed my time here and now it is your turn to enjoy. I wish you well.”
Dad was the joke master. Not that I could repeat even half of the jokes he told.
A family sits together three tables from me. There is a little girl with them. She has white-blonde hair. She cannot sit. There is simply too much here to see. She nibbles on her treat. She moves to her dad and then back to mom. She is reminded to sit while she is eating. Her feet swing back and forth under the table as though defiant of her parents wishes to “sit”. They seem to be enjoying each others’ company. They are content. I wonder why they are here? Do they know it would have been Dad’s birthday today?
I know I will snap out of it, but it has been tough. If Dad were here, what would he say? I think I need to remember. I need to think about his outlook on life. I need to remember that he was a survivor and because of that – so too was I. When he was happy, it was easier for me to be happy. When he enjoyed a dinner, it was easier for me to feel I was doing a good job of taking care of him. Funny how those things go.
Another couple walks by pushing a stroller. They scan the dining area while they walk. Do they know anyone here? The carriage rolls smoothly. I can only assume the baby within is fast asleep.
Mom – from table three gets up to clear her tray. White-blond little girl gets up to go with her. It is an opportunity to move, to see, to live. She holds her mother’s hand and jumps with two feet over the line in the floor. It is a big jump although the line is small. That line, however, deserves a big jump.
One more hour until my pre-chemo meeting.
Two young ladies giggle while they share a text on one of their phones. Maybe they are sharing photos? They are likely talking about their children and the funny things they do.
My green-pant nurse is now reading a novel. I guess it makes a good way to leave one space for another – to leave one story for another.
I need a good book. I have forgotten how much fun it is to get into a story, and adventure. Maybe Chapter’s has some good “light” stories for me?
The family is greeted by a woman who appears to be the motive for their visit. White-hair-blondie is gifted with a variety of cute little girl’s dresses. She is not impressed. Mom is impressed. Having seen her mom impressed, blondie puts the dresses up to herself to see if she thinks differently of them. The stranger gets a big smile and a hug. I guess the dresses were a hit after all.
I knew it. It was a good thing to buy this new dress I am wearing. I used to tease Dad that I used his money to buy me a dress. He would gasp and say, “oh, dear”. We would laugh. He knew I had not done that. But he would always then say, “if you want a dress, then go ahead.”
People come and people go. I am a silent observer in the corner. At least now, after having witnessed such small and joyous moments in strangers’ lives, there is now sun in my corner.
“Happy birthday, Dad. It is always good to remember you. Today, on this particular birthday, let this post of remembrance, reflection, and observation be my gift to you.”