It’s an interesting thing, this life. You’re born, you live, you die. And along the way there are certain epochs, milestones, that mark the journey. Early on you don’t remember these things, like learning to walk, or, just as crucial, going to the bathroom on your own. Sometimes you do remember them, like your first kiss, or holding your own offspring for the first time. Sometimes the events are obvious milestones, sometimes it takes years before you realize they were signs along the road.

Sometimes these milestones are like the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, though. As much as you know they’re a part of life you’d like to put them back, take a do-over, and go back to blissful ignorance. Like the day you learn, for sure, 100%, that your parents aren’t immortal. Now, don’t confuse this with learning that your parents are human. At some point we all figure out that parents are, to some degree, human, making mistakes and being grumpy and irrational and all that. But at some point it’ll occur to you that your parents won’t always be around, and that’s a huge thought all on its own.

We learned of my father’s stomach cancer late in October 2000. Six months later he was gone. I was in denial most of the time he was dying, that it could be happening at all, that it was possible for it to happen to someone I cared about. It took me years afterward to wrap my head around the idea that he was gone. In fact, if you go with the five stages of grief, I was stuck at “anger” for quite a number of years. But I still had my mom, and while I couldn’t ask her for advice on replumbing my house she kept the immortal flame of parenthood burning in all the other good ways.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. Not coincidentally, it’s been about that same amount of time since I was reminded, again, that my parents are not immortal. This time, a brain tumor. Possibly operable, likely quite treatable, but still a shock.[0] Doubly so because this is a threat to the last bastion of the old ways, the homestead, and the status quo of my family. My father’s death, and the ensuing nine years, have given me experience to deal with this sort of thing, but it’s still been this inedible lump sitting there for me to digest. And while I’ve been nibbling away at it I lost all my will to write, to do link posts with snarky comments, or to even update Facebook and Twitter. In fact, I missed my annual tribute to my father on his birthday, recycling some of his own snarky comments. I really feel bad about that, but I suspect he’d understand.

I don’t write all this fishing for sympathy or anything. I’m not. While it sucks, we all eventually go through it, and if anything talking about it helps me sort some of it out. This post is more of an apology for disappearing and a pledge that, since I’ve found some of my words again, I’ll post occasionally on the topic. After all, this blog is about technology, and a hell of a lot of it is being used on my mom, by no less than brain surgeons. Most importantly, though, this post is a plea, in the sage words of a billboard along U.S. Highway 151 between Dubuque and Madison: call your mom. I’m sure she’d like to hear from you.

It sure is an interesting thing, this life.


[0] Anaplastic astrocytoma. If you Google it realize that while astrocytomas are not rare catching them in this stage (anaplastic, or WHO Grade III) is. They’re usually found when smaller or larger. As such, there isn’t a ton of data about prognoses or treatment. In fact, it was only a few years ago that they started using radiation AND chemotherapy together on these tumors, and there isn’t a lot of published data on the survival rates now, mainly because those people are still alive. Can’t argue with that. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Immortals”

  1. Thanks for sharing. I lost my mom around 5 years ago to melanoma. I’ve never been good at verbalizing so it helps me when someone does a good job at writing down things that are similar to what’s in my head.

    I wish you the very best of luck.


  2. Hello –
    Is there any chance that you are related to a Dr. Plankers who practiced in Dubuque in 1938? I’m helping my 89 y.o mother finish her memoirs of WWII and she was inspired to be a nurse in 1938 when Dr. Plankers treated her for a ruptured appendix at age 16. I was looking on the internet for his first name and found your post. Here’s what mom wrote: “Dr. Plankers had trained in surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and was considered the best doctor in town. A confirmed bachelor, probably as old as my dad, partially bald and with a definite paunch, he became my idol! He had saved my life!”

Comments are closed.