Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why I am fundraising to fight cancer. Part 3

Cancer is not just for the young. Late in 2010 my grandmother was killed by cancer.

And when you grow up, I want you to be a  blogger! 

Adding to an already rough year, her death really caused me to consider what life is, what death is, and what all of this means. I cannot report that I have any answers yet, but I'm still looking. 

My grandmother was 76 when she died, which may sound old, but considering her mother lived to be 94 is actually fairly young. My grandmother had twenty years stolen from her by cancer. Grandma was a talented musician, a great adventurer, a keen game player, handy with a saucy joke, and was just generally great to be around. I spent a lot of summers and weekends both at her house and camping with her and Grandpa in the camper he built from scratch. Their home in Cedar Rapids was one of the places that hadn't really changed a whole lot in my lifetime; when I was younger we moved around a lot, but Grandma and Grandpa had bought their house the year I was born, and up until last year it had been a constant unchanging place in my life, as she had been.

266 Crandall Dr NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 
Every year I could count on a card from her on my birthday, and a phone call. In addition to my birthday, she would send a card for every holiday; St Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Veteran's Day and even Earth Day now and again. This will be the first birthday I don't get a card from her. The first in 38 years now.

That makes me sadder than you can imagine; not just for me, but because my daughter won't get to experience the greatness that was Elnora Husman. I could type a thousand words here about her, but I don't know how much of it would be read and appreciated, and how much would be just me telling disjointed stories and making myself sad.

I saw Grandma a week before she died; I went to Kansas City where she was staying with Mom and Dad. I had seen her earlier in the summer when she first came to stay with them, when she told us all that the cancer that she had been fighting since 2007 had returned. We all thought it was in remission, but it came back with a vengeance and didn't leave any room for any options. She faded and got worse over the summer and, despite all of the valiant efforts of the physicians in Kansas City, she was sent home to hospice care at my parents house at the beginning of November. I went up to help Mom take care of her because Dad had a conference out of town, and to spend a few days with Grandma one on one. I helped move her and lift her, because by the time I made it up she was far too weak to walk or even sit herself up in bed. I sat quietly with her and tried to talk to her about things that were "important", but I had no stomach for it; I tried to tell her how important she was to me, and how happy I was to have her as part of my life, but I found myself out of words a lot and unable to say some of the things that I now wish I'd said.

She died on November 11, Veterans day. I woke up that morning as usual to my daughter hollering "get me" from her room - and  when I went in I found Grandma's picture in Anna's bed. Anna had put the picture on her bedside table a few months before, and in fact insisted that it be kept there. I picked it up from the bedclothes just as the phone rang. One of the great pleasures in my life is that every year on Veteran's Day, my father calls and thanks me for my service. In 2010, at 6 AM, he was calling to tell me that Grandma (his mother) had just died. I stood there holding a picture of her that I had just taken out of my daughter's bed and cried like a little boy. Cancer Sucks.

Elnora Mae Husman 1934-2010

I have raised lots of money to try to help fight cancer, but it's not nearly enough. Not enough from me, not enough from you, and I fear not enough from everyone in the whole ride. I hope that what I raised (with your help) will make some kind of difference. If you haven't donated, please do so. Thanks for indulging me my cause the past few months.

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