Fonticulus Fides

Friday, January 18, 2008

Prayers for Jonathan

Pam over at HMS blog just posted yesterday that her youngest, Jonathan, may have leukemia. Please pray for him, and for his parents and brothers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Final Leg of the Race

So, my dad called last night around 9:30 p.m., which is late for my parents. I knew something was wrong the second the phone rang. You know how that goes.

My dad’s an engineer, so it always takes him a long time to get to the point. I’ll spare you the gory details and the tangent on Katie Couric and how she got millions of people to get colonoscopies: my dad has been diagnosed with two kinds of cancer – prostrate and breast. Oh, and he has a hernia. His colon, which I was expecting to be The Bad News because of how much time he spent talking about Ms. Couric, is just fine.

It’s Dad’s second round with prostrate cancer. He had a very tiny stage-one sort of incident some years ago that I didn’t even find out about until two years after he was in remission. Once again, this has been caught early. Though it’s a bit more involved than the last round, it’s still stage one and many, many men have been successfully treated at this level.

The breast cancer is more troublesome. This is the one that’s requiring surgery almost immediately. Dad had symptoms well over a year ago but ignored them, and then finally asked his dermatologist, who sent him to an internist who thought it was a cyst but sent him for an ultrasound, which led to a biopsy and now surgery and radiation. They’re putting off the prostrate cancer for now to deal with this one.

Dad didn’t sound all that worried until the end of our conversation, when he started to get sentimental. His brother had died of cancer just a couple months before his 50th wedding anniversary, and my mom & dad’s 50th is this May. Then he started talking about all his deceased relatives, and then he started to say how proud he is of my kids and then the biggy – he talked about how my husband is a really great guy and a good father.

My dad has never, ever said a kind word about my husband before, and I’ve been married almost 14 years. So that scared me. Dad must be feeling that he’s entered the final leg of his race, that life on earth is coming to an end for him. This may be his last year or his last 10 years, or his last 20 years, but however long he will live, it's his last years.

It happens to everybody, and everybody deals with it differently. Six years ago, my in-laws brought my mother-in-law’s parents back to Nebraska to live on the farm. They had a little house built across the lane from the farmhouse. It’s one of those modular homes, and when Grandma & Grandpa were picking it out, the sales guy was trying to push them on a 30-year roof.

Grandma shot back, “I’m not going to be here in 30 years,” and insisted on the cheaper 10-year roof.

She’s 90 now, and while she’s not without her health issues, she still seems to be going strong. Grandpa, too – he’ll be 90 next month and has only slowed down an imperceptible amount since I married into the family. They’re certainly as spry as my parents, who are both in their 70s.

Will Grandma & Grandpa live long enough to see that roof run out of warranty? Honestly, it seems like they could. But I know they think about dying – they think about who they will leave what piece of furniture to, and I’m sure that individually, they think about what it might be like to live without the other, after being married for 62 years. And I imagine they think about the afterlife, and meeting God.

I wonder if my dad is thinking about God, too.

Dad had a falling out with God. I used to attribute this to the circumstances immediately preceding my birth (when my parents had a terrible disagreement about my fate based on Mom's Catholic upbringing), but maybe it was earlier than that. Maybe it was because he had such a hard childhood. Maybe between the poverty and his hearing loss that left him almost completely deaf, he couldn’t believe there was a God. Or maybe it was his parents’ lack of faith that led to his own, which is what I experienced.

Dad converted to Catholicism in order to marry my mother, because my grandmother insisted on it (knowing from her own experience that it’s better for a married couple to be together in faith). I can’t say how sincere my dad was at the time. I mean, I know he was sincere about marrying my mom, but I’ve never seen him express any sort of faith in God, so it’s hard for me to fathom Dad being a devoted Catholic. Maybe he was.

But if he ever was, he hasn’t been for a long time. And neither has my mom.

Ever since my husband and I converted to Catholicism, I’ve been praying that my parents will return to the Church. And it’s seemed like the most impossible prayer ever. But now, maybe it’s not so impossible.

I don’t want my dad to suffer from cancer, but maybe this experience will be what helps him see his own need for God. Maybe this will be what brings my parents back to some sort of relationship with Him.

I’m praying.