Saturday, April 12, 2014

Grump may be gone but not forgotten

We weren't particularly close. Once in awhile we would talk about the neighborhood, people we both knew, our kids and his favorite topic, old cars.
He was tagged with a nickname that fit his expression, Grump. He just looked like Grump but he didn't show that side of his personality, if indeed he was a grump. Serious, yes. Grumpy, I don't think so.
Saturday was one of those days we like to think about when the snow is flying, snow blowers drown out all the sound on your street or road and you come in to warm up, grab a coffee, then head out to finish moving the snow.
This past Saturday was different. It was eerily quiet in our neighborhood. As I sat in the backyard mentally going over my chore list, I noticed how quiet it was.
The birds were the only thing making noise. Looking for mates, arguing over bird seed or nesting territory, they were busy little things.
This Saturday was different. There weren't the sounds of circular saws chomping on a board or a drill or router with their high-pitched noise biting into wood.
No hammers banging the heads of nails, or leaf blowers clearing the yard of the accumulation of last falls leaves.
It was common knowledge in the neighborhood that Grump had been diagnosed cancer and was given-at best-two years to live.
He met that challenge head on. He told me about it once but was matter of fact when he described it. I  was surprised at what seemed to me, his acceptance of his situation at this juncture in his life.
From time to time we would wave as we passed on the road. Every so often I would wander over to talk with him when he was tinkering in the garage or yard.
Asked how he was feeling, he would usually turn the question around with one of his own. "Well, how are you feeling," was his usual response.
Grump passed away this fine, sunny, unusually quiet morning. His passing reminded me once again how precious this life is.
It also reminded me of my health, dealing with cancer. My doctor at U of M now refers to me as cancer free. I'm a survivor.
But she also reminds me that I had an aggressive form of bladder cancer and that there is a good chance it will return sometime. Therein lies the reason for me to be checked four times a year.
Cancer is nasty and not something to be taken lightly. I think of mine almost daily. The group I meet with each week at Gilda's club has the same feelings.
All of us do our own personal check daily. On waking, I lie there for a minute to see if anything hurts or if there are any new pains I hadn't noticed the previous day.
Each bump, bruise, fall, or different sensation that are all quite normal to most people, are scary to cancer patients. We all think, "here I go again."
I don't know if Grump had these feelings. I'm sure it was rough sledding as he went along. His caregivers-wife Joan and all his buddies that dropped in from time to time-are all feeling a sense of loss this day.
In one way, we think it's a blessing and that he is in a better place, pain free at last. On the other hand, there is a void left in the lives of those remaining who were close or cared for Grump until the end.
It reminds me to be grateful for each day I have and to be thankful that, at least for the moment, I'm both pain free and cancer free.
As this day goes by and others follow, I'll be reminded of the guy they called Grump and remember him along with others during my nightly prayers.

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