Chapter 5: Anonymous Fame

So I’m putting this up one day after the last chapter, because it occurred, in real time, one day later, and we’re on the cusp of the one-year anniversary of things happening in real time.

February 21st, 2017

So I got the news yesterday that she’s one of a kind.

Probably going to be famous, in a carefully anonymized way.

You know, like Henry Molaison was.

H. M.

Of course, odds are that her fame will be posthumous, while H. M.’s condition was well-known, except, of course, to him, during his lifetime.

See, the docs, and these are good docs, some of the best in the country, not just local G.P.s or corpsmen, say that one of her cancers is extremely rare.

Like, one in ten or twenty million rare.

One of her cancers is extremely rare. So the other one should be easy, right?

The other one has probably never been seen before.

These are top doctors at a top hospital.

They’ll do their best, and their best will be the best, but no matter what the outcome, they’ll still be writing papers about it.

Chapter 4: Results

Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3 

February 20th, 2017

So the doc called the family in for a meeting today.

Due to the language barrier, I stay clear of these. No need for Mrs. A to hear, comprehend, absorb, and translate, all at the same time.

Or at least that’s the way I see it.

However, I don’t see any good news coming down the pipe. They wanted her on at least 1300 calories a day, and her charts were showing 900. My aunt is in the same boat, for some reason she’s gotten extremely picky about what she will and won’t eat. Of course, my aunt is in the States, where there are certain… herbal appetite enhancers… available, even if one need go slightly off-prescription to obtain and administer them.

No chance of that here.

So we wait.

She all there. The lights are on, there’s someone home, but the windows are a trifle fogged from time to time. Sometimes she looks over the shoulder of the person she’s speaking to, focusing on… something.

I always thought that was Hollywood.

Chapter 3: Uncultured

Read Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 first.

February 12th, 2017

So, TV today.

Something on the History Channel, the aliens show with the guy with the crazy hair. Either the Aboriginal Australians are aliens, or we’re all aliens, but descended, not from Africa and Olduvai Gorge, but by way of Alice Springs.

Wasn’t paying attention, not sure. Key points is that Ayers Rock (sic) is an Aboriginal/Alien standing stone thingy, and the 33rd Southern parallel connects directly to the center of the galaxy, and is thus the anchor point for the stargate.

Also something about the Matrix.

But it sucked me in with the claim that the Aborigines (is that an OK term? Sorry if I’ve given offense, none intended) are the oldest living culture on Earth.

Skeptical of anything that claims that Uluru is an alien radio, but there have got to be some facts in there somewhere.

Fast forward an hour or two, and I see that my cable movie channel is running all three Godfather movies back to back.

Y’know how much of Godfather II is in Italian? Y’know how hard it is to understand that if you don’t speak Italian or read Japanese very well?

But anyway, towards the end of Part III, I started to think about mourning cultures. I know the Godfather is all Hollywood bullshit, but when I think of people who know how to mourn, Italians and Jews pop to the top of my head.

Don’t read too much into that, just keep reading.

And then I realized that I have no culture.

My wife can, by the law of the land, trace her family back….. shit, several many generations. Japan has a “family registry” system, which is more or less a legally required family tree. When Japanese people hear that I don’t know the names of my great-grandparents, their minds boggle almost as much as when I tell them that I know I’m pretty much German and Scottish.

‘Cuz they’re all Japanese.


All the way.

But but but but…..

I come from the culture of Velveeta and Wonder Bread.

Scratch that, my parents were pretty liberal. Velveeta and Roman Meal. Holy shit my sister and I were amazed when the folks discovered wheat bread.

But anyway, I’m penciled-in for mourning soon. On the plus side, the family dog died some time ago, and they opted for a fairly traditional cremation and service.

So I know how to pick apart the bones with chopsticks and put them in the urn.

Dog bones.

And I come from a culture outside of mourning. A culture outside of culture.

Right, I’ve lost the thread in here somewhere, so I’m just going to hit “post”.

Chapter 2: Final Destination – Holding Pattern

If you haven’t read Chapter 1: The Presence of Absence, start there.

January 15th, 2017

She was diagnosed last spring when she suddenly went aphasic. They found cancer in her brain and abdomen; the two cancers were, surprisingly, not related. Cancer rarely forms in the brains of adults on its own, it’s generally metastasized from somewhere else.

Operable. A tumor the size of a baseball came out of her head, and two liters came out of her abdomen.

I looked at a baseball after the surgery. Held in up next to my head in the mirror. How is this possible?

A two liter bottle next to my body. She’s not a large woman, in height or in girth.

But it got better, it gets better, it always gets better, right? Nausea wasn’t an issue, but her appetite never really came back. Just didn’t want to eat.

Slept a lot.

Lost weight.

And then my wife told me she was getting worse, so she went back home to help take care of her mom, and then I got sick; the doc says it’s not influenza, but I’ve never been flattened for two days by a common cold before.

You don’t put someone like me in the same room with someone who is weakened and immunocompromised. I can’t make her better, but I won’t make her worse.

Haven’t seen my wife for a week and a half. I wake up whenever the coughing starts, take some medicine, eat a bit, check my messages.

And go back to sleep. There’s nothing I have to do, there’s no dinner to be prepared, my work is only part time at the moment, and I’m too sick to go anywhere.

Seen everything on cable.

So I just wait. Prepped the black formal suit, found the black tie, polish down the shoes because spitshines aren’t appropriate at times like these.

I hope she gets better, but sooner or later the captain is going to ask her to put her seat in its upright and locked position, and to stow her tray table.

And today the ambulance took her to the emergency room. Was that the announcement chime?

Are you sure we can’t re-route to a different airport, captain? Just for a while?