Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Costco Girl's Simple Wish

I am at a loss to understand the willingness of many people to accept and to embrace the notion of God as some sort of all-knowing, benevolent despot overseeing all that goes on here on our big blue marble. And it throws my system completely for a loop when those who seem so full of faith are those who seem to be the recipients of some wholly unwarranted tough love from the Almighty. Yet, I watch it in action every day in the words and deeds of my in-laws and for reasons that remain inexplicable to me, they each have found a reason to believe.

Margaret's parents have been married pretty close to a half-century. I think that on Valentine's Day they celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary. I know not whether they have the perfect marriage. I have been married for almost sixteen years myself and while my wife and I are two happy little peas in our marital pod, I would not begin to offer an opinion as to whether we have achieved perfection in the area of marital bliss. And if I cannot recognize its existence inside of the four walls of my own home, then I most assuredly cannot hope to do so inside of the home of another.

I know simply this. For almost the past half century - or roughly a period of time that occupies about 2/3 of the time that each of them has trod the Earth, Joe and Suzy B. have been a major part of each other's life. One has completed the other for quite a while now. And I know this also. The arduous battle she has waged against the most sinister of all villains - cancer - has actually strengthened the bond between them. Each of them is equal parts terrified of the illness, frustrated by what it has done to her and to them and emboldened by the belief that together they can get her through this ordeal.

The past thirty days have not been much fun at all for either of Margaret's parents. On Sunday morning, my wife took her mother to Somerset Medical Center, which is where Sue remains this morning in the Critical Care Unit. The culprit this time? The chemo medication she is presently taking, which is apparently platinum-based. She had an awful time adjusting to it, which caused her system to develop a very serious infection. While she is already battling her way back from it, it has not been an easy trip. And left unsaid to this point - once the infection clears up - is what to do with the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, which is the cancer that still needs to be fought against vigorously. We may not be able always to pick our battles, but we can choose perhaps whether we want to try to fight multiple ones simultaneously or take them as they come. My in-laws have wisely opted for the latter.

Yesterday afternoon, sitting with Margaret and Joe in Suzy B.'s hospital room, my wife's parents discussed their big hope. While Joe has been retired (from the restaurant biz) the entirety of the time Margaret and I have been together, he has always worked. He was completely retired apparently for about a month twenty years ago and him being home all day, everyday drove both his wife and him nuts. So he went to work for the Somerset County Parks Commission and today he runs one of the County's public golf courses. On his off days, he and his best girl enjoy driving together to Costco or to Pathmark or to whatever store she wants to shop in and just strolling through the aisles as she points to what she wants and he fills their cart. All they want is for her to feel well enough again to make another trip up and down the aisles of Costco. Something so simple is all for which they ask. Through the pain she is enduring, my mom-in-law actually smiled yesterday at his mere mention of it.

A simple, beautiful wish. One would presume that if the Almighty people speak of so glowingly could create a planet and all things living above, upon and beneath it in less than a week, he can pull this off as well. We shall see. Me? I would settle for him finding someone else to shower with attention for a while. Joe and Suzy B. have had more than enough of it to last a lifetime.

-AK

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