Friday, December 31, 2021

He never became an old man

Blogs are strange creatures (writings, essays, memories).  There are methods to check up on the people "following" my blog, and from them, to look at the other blogs they are reading. Birds of a feather, apparently. You only do this if it's a slow day like New Year's Eve afternoon and the food is all prepared for dinner with friends, one of whom has dropped out due to quarantining for Covid.  So that's how I happened to read the final post of a blogger whose main fascination was the nitty gritty of writing--hyphens, semi-colons, commas, and citations.  He was a copy editor for the Washington Post and wrote things like this in his job, and then wrote about it in his blog. He didn't necessarily like the changes he had to use.

Not mike, in a change from long-standing Post style, as the short form for microphone. Try to avoid inflected verb forms, but use apostrophes and write mic’ed and mic’ing if they must be used." 

The last entry in his blog in 2017 was written by someone else--he had died of the cancer he'd been writing about for less than a year--Intrahepatic cholangio carcinoma, stage 4 (cancer of the bile ducts). On August 2, 2016 he wrote:

"And isn't it lucky to have some warning, at a relatively young age and with my mind intact? Not all causes of death work that way -- I could have been run over by a car. This way, I have time, maybe a little and maybe more than that, to take it all in. To savor the little things. I get weepy now when I see trees and cardinals and cardinals in the trees. Am I really missing all that much if I never get to be a doddering old man?

Speaking of smug boasts, have I mentioned that I can swing neither of my cats without hitting a world-class cancer center? I chose one of the very best: Johns Hopkins is less than an hour away, with a satellite even closer to home at Sibley Memorial Hospital (SMH, as in "shaking my head"). I've since learned that "my team of specialists" is a phrase that doesn't sound nearly as good as you think it's going to, but still, I have a team of specialists. And that team has a plan. I've started chemotherapy. Soon, there will be radiation, in the form of teeny-weeny little beads sent directly into the diseased area.

In other words, as lucky as I am to be escaping doddering-old-man status, maybe I'll be really lucky. Maybe I'll end up a doddering old man."

Bill died on March 27, 2017. Yes, he really did want to end up a doddering old man. He had the same hopes and trust Phil did in his "team" and I'm sure they said the same encouraging words, all the while knowing how grim the future looked. Phil was close enough to the east side Zangmeister center near St. Ann's he could drive himself (although it was very unsafe), in fact he did until they cut him loose and assigned him to hospice. He was so shocked he kept trying to call "chemo-doc" as he called her (difficult foreign name). He never got through.

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