There’s a tone that parents have when telling their children something scary. A tone that smoothes over anything potentially frightening. They deliver the pertinent information but with a high, light voice that could be saying “We should go to Disneyland” The end of the story is written and they are selling you hard on how it’s gonna be. Okay.
I haven’t birthed any children but I’ve mothered many. Three step-kids of my own, two God-daughters, plus some Nanny babies that I still fret over now that they’re teens. From this perspective, you begin to understand the value of delivering bad news with a bow on top. Everything is going to be fine, whether you believe it or not. That’s your job.
I have a twelve year old voice message that my Mom left me. Saved on a little cassette tape from an old school answering machine. She’s telling me she feels so great that she could probably walk a mile. By that time I was old enough to be suspect of the happy tone. It was enough to scare me but I hung onto it for dear life in hopes that it was true. That everything was going to be fine. It wasn’t.
This week I had a delightful conversation with my Dad. They usually are. So brilliantly small towney. Goddamn cougars getting in the garbage. Frikkin hippies leaving their junk out and attracting bears. Dumb dink professional politicians out politicking their bullshit. These are the things that comfort me as such a fish out of water still in this ridiculously huge city.
Well don’t ya know, my Dad has the cancer. Nothing to worry about. Doctor is going to fix it up and it’s going to be just fine. Jeez those Finns are really putting out good NHL goalies now. I’ve got a good system for keeping the crows out of the cherries this year. Cancer, crows and hockey get the same tone so if you aren’t listening closely, you miss the cancer part. Part of the strategy I think.
FYC is something us “cancer ride people” say alot. A code reminiscent of secret password days. It’s tattooed on cyclists and painted on bikes. It stokes the frustration. You growl out a “Fuck You Cancer” and hope beyond hope that the stories end happily.
But, First You Cry.
Needless to say, I have a little more oomph in the pedals this year and if I’ve snapped at anyone lately, this is why. I’m fucking mad. Again. In the place before you know the ending there’s just anger that it’s happening. Again.
Like when your Mom would blow on a cut, some things make you feel better while the story plays out. Blowing on a wound is probably not a sound medical strategy and riding a bike isn’t a cure for cancer but it helps. On some level.
Dad’s going to be fine. He’s eating Chia now. Thursday is his treatment day so we’ll chat about that and sockeye season later tonight. His prognosis is great and his determination is greater. If someone could just rig up a deal where sisu* was a cure for cancer my family would live forever.
*Sisu: Finnish principle of high power of will which should make you to achieve anything. Characteristics: Determination, courage, persistence.