Our Father…

Beltane and the Recovery Moon

Father’s Day. A Hallmark holiday. Yes. A secondary holiday to Mother’s Day. For most, yes. Yet still powerful. Powerful enough to generate happy moments. Guilty moments. Moments of regret.

Not an easy day for me relative to my Dad. With Jon and Joseph, it’s wonderful. And when I extend the idea to grandfather, it becomes sublime. Why? They will live on, into the hot and dusty future, carrying the life of our family, its values. In a straight line? No. But that’s as it should be.

Not sure how often I’ve written about my father here. Let me say this. He was a man loved by many. In our small town of Alexandria most knew him and liked him. He walked its streets long after retirement, holding onto a small role for the Times-Tribune as its circulation manager. Oddly, a role I held for one year or two during high school.

I am his son. I write. I have strong opinions. I’m not afraid to express them and will not back down from a public fight. I’m curious about life’s strangeness, its uniqueness. After retiring, Dad would drive the roads of Indiana with his second wife Rosemary, looking for the river that suddenly disappeared into the earth or a small town with an unusual claim to fame. Like the giant paint ball in Alexandria.

I am not his son. I vowed to never let anything come between my children and me. Anything. Not choosing the military as a profession. Not repeated self-injury and a sometimes violent temper. Nothing will break my bond with them. Ever.

Yesterday we went to Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs. I had the day wrong in my last post. Underwhelmed by the coca-cola drenched onions. My German veal hot dog was, meh. The fries, too. The chocolate shake, yumm.

I’m not giving up. There were many other choices and I chose the original, just to see what it was like. Jon said he’d bought hot dogs from Biker Jim’s food cart before he transitioned to the restaurant. I’m not giving up because from now on hot dogs, bacon, salami, pastrami and the like are now off my grocery list permanently. Carne vale. Farewell to meat. Processed meat, that is.

Ruth introduced me to, wait for it, fried macaroni. Oh boy. This is state fair worthy. Shoulda been on a stick. She had a Jack-a-lope hot dog, cherries and jalapenos. Very good, she said. Jon got the classic hot dog. Not sure about Gabe. Kate’s stomach was in its delicate mode, as it often is, so she had a chocolate milkshake.

Gabe gave Jon a coffee cup that holds a half-gallon. It says, I’ll just have one cup. That Gabe. Ruth got him a thermos with super powers. Jon’s done well with them. Their relationships, all of them, are much healthier now than a year ago. Their affection for each other is obvious and touching.

Jon and Gabe made me cards. I’ll take a photograph of them, but they’re downstairs right now.

What I wore to Biker Jim’s

This is my last weekend before radiation and Lupron change me. Strange to consider, but true. Though life affirming in their essence, both will alter me substantially. Radiation has the potential for long-term bladder and bowel damage. Lupron has the potential for, well, lots of stuff, but it is meant to be temporary. It’s easy to get focused on the side effects and forgot the non-side effect: kill the cancer cells.

Lupron cuts off prostate cancer’s prime energy source: testosterone. Radiation damages cancer cell DNA. Lupron is systemic so it affects every part of the body. Radiation is localized and the more localized the better. However. If too localized, it chances missing cancer cells that, if they survive, will begin replicating again and cause a reemergence.

Wearing this one Monday

There is a fascinating book by Faiz Khan, The Physics of Radiation Therapy, which describes in great detail how radiation therapy works. Khan is a professor emeritus of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. His book is the practical manual for radiation oncologists, medical physicists, and dosists.

After having scanned some of the chapters, I have an appreciation for the difficulties and nuances involved in planning and executing my therapy. Without getting technical let me say, it’s really f…ng hard. Glad to have folks experienced in the 3-D version. They need (and have) both a high degree of knowledge and the leavening of that knowledge with experience.

This father, after this father’s day, will be irradiated. Weird. And, in a peculiar way, wonderful.

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