The Unexpected, Hard Things About Cancer.

There are some unexpected,
hard things about
cancer that sort of just
hit you out of nowhere.
When you least expect it.

And I don't think anyone can really
prepare you for it,
because I do believe
it hits people very differently.

I didn't sleep well the night before last,
so by the time I rolled out of bed,
I saw this.
At first glance,
there shouldn't be anything hard about this sight.
At all.
I mean, we women can shovel just as well as the men folk.
It's true.

And yet,
to me,
the sight of my mum,
outside shoveling snow,
100% accentuates the fact
that my dad has cancer.

I'd bet Mum could count on one hand
the number of times
(until this winter)
that she's shoveled snow over
their 50 years of marriage.
I've never shoveled the snow with my dad around.
Until cancer.

In my teen years,
when I'd take the car
to school in the morning,
most of the time I'd walk out the door
at the very last minute mind you,
and dad would have the car cleared off,
and warmed up,
and ready for me to take.

He's a gentleman.
He opens doors for women.
He walks on the outside of the sidewalk.
He pulls out the chair for you.
He pays the bill.
He helps you with your coat.
He lets others go first.
He says please and thank you.

A gentleman to the core.

I grew up in a traditional home
where mom and dad divvied up household duties
right down the gender line.

Mom tackled everything indoor and household management
like meals
(and dog-gone-it, she's happy about it, as evidenced below)
and grocery shopping and dishes
and fixing hair
and cleaning and sewing and canning
and baking and changing diapers
and crocheting.
And then some more.
A million things more.

All the while,
dad took after
chopping the wood and
hunting for food
and bringing home the bacon
and building things.
All the things.

And a million things more.

AND ....
shoveling all the Canadian snow that ended up
in our drive
(and usually all the neighbors' drives)
and clearing off and warming up the cars
in the dead of Canadian winters.

I bet you're dying to know
Dad's favorite outfit while shoveling!
Wait no more::::

 No lie.
White t-shirt.
Brown or black leather belt.
Sometimes moccasins.
Other times boots.
Sometimes big gloves.
Most often, bare-handed.
Sometimes a jacket.
Often not.
I can't think of a time I ever saw him wear a toque.

He's as warm-blooded
as a polar bear
in a sweater.

So to see Mum shoveling
was the reminder that Dad's not well.

Over the decades,
Dad has also been
THE Master Packer.

The guy can pack anything
- and I do mean anything -
into the tiniest of spaces.

Have a dead yak that needs
packed into a shoe box?
My Dad's the guy.

Four hockey bags and the engine to
a John Deere tractor
in the trunk of a Volkswagen Rabbit?
Call Jack Correll.

I left home for America at 18,
headed to the other side of the world when I was 26,
and didn't get married until I was 30.
And every single time,
whether packing a trailer for college,
the car after a weekend at home,
or 3 trunks for 3 years in a foreign land,
my dad packed my stuff.

So after the New Year,
when Jackson, Maddie and I were
heading back to Chicago,
(My Jack Man had already left to go back to work)
Dad sat in his chair with cancer,
while Mum and I took everything outside
and packed my van
from stem to stern.

As Mum and I passed each other on the stairs,
she mentioned that Dad was having a hard time
with not being able to help me pack my van.

Our new reality.
Dad has cancer.

I slipped back into the house and gave
Dad a hug and we both cried.
New reality.

The unexpected, hard things about cancer.

This much I know.
God's still good.
And always will be.


Thursday night update:
Dad has continued to be pain free and side-effect free all week, and for that we are most grateful. This afternoon found him very sleepy, but that we can handle. Thanks again for your good thoughts, kind words and faithful prayers. We're forever grateful.


Pat said…
Continuing to pray for you and your family!
Alysa said…
Thanks so much, Pat! Means more than you know!
becko said…
These pictures are priceless. I loved seeing them and hearing a little about your life back then. Being given this time to really soak in all of the great things about your dad (both then and now) and still have him here to hug and talk to is a blessing in itself. That's I guess a teeny tiny silver lining about situations like this--You REALLY LOVE HARD. Continued prayers for your dad and family!
Alysa said…
Thanks, Becky. It is therapy to walk back through memories and you're right, the silver lining in the situation. Big hugs to you!
Karen Anderson said…
What a fun glimpse into your life! You have been so richly blessed! Thank you for opening the pages of the family album to allow us to really connect. So glad your dad is doing well. So sad for the new normal - praying that he will be packing suitcases and cars again soon!

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