When it rains, it pours. First, Pop went in the hospital for gall bladder surgery. When he was opened up, they found that his gut was full of cancer that had spread everywhere. So, they just closed him back up because there is nothing that can be done at his age. My grandmother doesn’t want him to know he is going to die from this, reasoning he won’t have any will to fight if he knows the truth. I would want to know, and I think he would too, but I’m not going to go against her wishes. Instead, I have to go there and lie to him, which just feels wrong. Lou is supportive and talks to Pop a lot about going fishing in the future. It will be a miracle for him to just go home, but if it is possible, we will take him fishing.

Then, my dad was feeling unwell, and tired all the time. He noticed blood in his stool, which turned out to be due to colon cancer. He was scheduled for surgery to have a long length of his intestines removed. At the same time, my sister was having abdominal pain and ended up in the hospital in Connecticut for gall bladder surgery. Her daughter is just a toddler, and my brother-in-law has to work, so I planned to go right after my dad’s surgery to her house to help take care of my both her and my niece.

The morning before my dad’s surgery, my grandfather, my father, and my sister were all in the hospital; I was at home with my mom, and found we had no heat. I went down to the basement and saw that the natural gas furnace was out. I tried to light the pilot, but it wouldn’t ignite on the first try. On the second try, I lit the match, put it toward the pilot hole, and BOOM! I felt an instant rush of heat and air like a hot blast of wind on my face. I made my way through the dense smoke back upstairs, and my mom ran down from the second floor in a panic asking what happened. Seeing the smoke filling the house, she called the fire department, and I went into the bathroom shower to run cold water on my face, hand, and arm. I had no idea what kind of damage I had done to myself. While I doused myself in the cold running water, I heard the blast of the town’s emergency horns signaling the location of our street and then the sirens of the arriving fire trucks. They inspected the house and made sure the gas was off and that there was no fire in the ducts and sucked the smoke out with large fans. I was obviously burned, so they insisted that I go by ambulance to the hospital.

My poor mother had her stepfather, husband, and daughter all in one hospital, and another daughter in a different hospital several hours away. I had first-degree burns all over my face, neck, and right hand and arm. I had second-degree burns on parts of my face, and third-degree burns on my hand near my index finger and thumb, where I held the lit match that caused the blow back of the gas. My hair was melted all around the front and the ends. My eyebrows are completely gone, and my eyelashes are tiny little nubs. I am so lucky all around that is all that happened. They cleaned me up and put Silvadine on my burns. I looked like a clown with my face entirely covered in the white salve.

We didn’t want my father or grandfather to know what happened, and I wanted to see my dad before his surgery, so I had to remove the burn cream, which was pure torture. I put on a floppy hat and eyeglasses and I carried a coat over my bandaged arm. My dad was pretty dopey because of the pain and other meds he was on, so he didn’t really ask any questions. Pop was more alert and inquired, “Why the hell are you wearing that silly hat?”  My dad’s surgery went well, and they think they removed all the cancer.

Lou has been a big help to my family though all of this. He drove me to and from Connecticut to be with my sister, and while I was gone, he brought my dad a get-well stuffed rabbit, appropriate for a magician, and he helped my Mom set up a recovery area for my dad in our dining room.