When my dad was diagnosed with Lymphoma it was the Monday after Father’s Day in 2000. He’d gone to his internist at the time (he later changed doctors), for some lower back pain, who put in a referral for an orthopedic doctor and physical therapy. But my mom had one of her “feelings,” that for the most part rational science dismisses, and they went to her osteopath who is also a general practitioner for a second opinion. Put one hand on it and said: “It’s not orthopedic.” They were sent for an x-ray and told to come back on Monday.
Back in the osteopath’s office, everyone my mum said asked: “Did you have a good weekend? Did you have a nice Father’s Day?”
For a long time, we had hosted Father’s Day cookouts in our yard inviting my dad’s side of the family, extended family and friends, but they were getting difficult to prepare for and, my mum has had a major emotional an issue with Father’s Day since her father passed in 1980. Also I’d just returned from Down Under, a two week plus one-day extra tour of Eastern Australia, trying tricks to stay awake, resent my body clock, and get back on Eastern Standard Time. The last Father’s Day gathering held in our yard was in 2000 before we heard the diagnosis about the cloud they saw on that x-ray.
My dad’s first chemo treatment was on my mum’s July birthday. For some reason he said he wanted a fizzy lemonade that he recalled from childhood. So in the hopes of bringing this comfort to my dad – first bought Limonata from the Italian Company Pellegrino known for its sparking water. Nope it didn’t taste the way he remembered.
Many others followed. Went to Trader Joe’s and also to Cardullo’s a fancy gourmet grocer in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, US. Whenever I saw anything remotely like a sparking lemonade or citrus drink I bought it: tall bottles, bottles with fancy stoppers, all in shades pink and layers of faded sunshine yellow.
Really would have bought anything just so my dad could have the memory of the taste he longed to remember. But after a sip or so, all were just no.
Actually my dad wasn’t a bad patient, and perhaps even without the chemical treatment he still would not have been able to replace that lemonade flavor he recalled from when he was a boy. Lived another 14 years, the bulk of which he was able to have a good quality of life and travel and be with my mum. The last year was a struggle though, when the long term consequences of the chemotherapy that initially saved him – gave him pulmonary fibrosis which made it excruciatingly difficult for him to breathe, and ultimately he did not go quietly into the good night.
Mostly think it was his taste buds were fried from the chemo treatments, because before my mother locked down visitors due to his frail immune system, our younger cousins and other children via extended family came to visit. Out in the yard, they loved and drank all the “fancy lemonade.”
Whenever I see bottles of sparkling lemonade, always stop and pause — think of my dad but never buy it.