Cheap Day Return
On Preston Platform
do your soft-shoe shuffle dance
Brush away the cigarette ash
that’s falling down your pants
And then you sadly wonder
DOES THE NURSE TREAT YOUR OLD MAN
the way she should?
She made you tea,
asked for your autograph —
what a laugh.
– Ian Anderson (while leaving his father at the hospital on a cheap-day-return trip)
The days between the day of diagnosis and today have melded together. How do you refer to this mass? An ordeal? The cancer? It includes diagnosis, testing, verifying malignancy, consulting, expressing, surgery, hospitalization – pre-op and post-op, recovery, and the healing. The entirety is separated into small episodes – each one contributing to the next, directly, each episode offering its lessons for the day and the entire healing process.
I like that. The ordeal is “the healing.”
I know I didn’t experience the traditional stages in reacting to tragedy. Most noticeably lacking were anger and denial, but I did experience small episodes that came together and continue to come together to produce the whole story of diagnosis, confirmation, waiting, removing and recovery from the cancer. The Healing. And add to the episode the characters – the doctors, the family, the caretakers, the friends, the messages, the flowers, the concerned – each character involved in each of the episodes responds and reacts uniquely establishing the roots to a new story, all part of the whole.
Last Saturday night my son Varoujan came in from Phoenix and visited me at the hospital. He and his brothers would represent our family at my niece Ani’s graduation from nursing school – a party that night and the pinning service the following afternoon. Ani became a RN whilst I was hospitalized – Susan and I enjoyed the pictures and stories, and the boys got their fill from the events. Each of us, with a unique view and vantage of this milestone.
Our sons view the healing from different perspectives – each from his own unique perspective, each reacting to the episodes and circumstances of the day, each of them crafting and creating their own personal reflection of dad’s suffering, illness, hospitalization or recovery, recorded in the journal of their mind’s memory, to affect circumstances and situations to come.
By Sunday, I had taken a small detour in the recovery process. The small intestines were not reacting. That night became one of the most violent ones in the hospitalization process.The boys stopped by the hospital that night on their way to the airport. Varoujan said goodbye along with his wishes for my recovery. He wished me an early “Happy Fathers’ Day” with, “I probably won’t be able to come next week.” This will be the first Fathers’ Day apart. This day was coming as it came in my life – the day when life and life’s circumstances would separate me and my dad on Fathers’ Day. Nevertheless, even today while it’s been over 20 years since his death, I am still with my dad on Fathers’ Day. I have that confidence that Varoujan is with me and I with him in his thoughts and life.
As Varoujan took off for the airport, in this small episode in the “healing” process, I remembered the line from the 1971 Tull song, Cheap Day Return. Ian Anderson stood on Preston Platform, leaving the hospital where his father lay thinking does the nurse treat his old man, the way she should? … You’re out there thinking… on a platform, a hospital bed or a air terminal. You’re wondering quietly or aloud about all that you experience and that thought process is what connects these seeming islands of episodes into one story. For now, it fits into the story of my recovery. It turns into the story of life for our family and later as part of the human story of love. The episodes come together and forms the story of healing.
The Sunday of the Holy Trinity is celebrated on this Sunday following Pentecost. It reminds us of the Mystery – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each unique, each equal, each a part of the Whole which some may call God, others the Universe, others still, the Healing.