My mother picked me up this morning to take me to chemo. Jeff– a friend of ours whose own mother died from cancer– came along for the ride. My mom likes Jeff because he’s always telling her stories. I don’t know if she thinks he is telling very exaggerated tall tales, or if she believes them. His stories do seem to have a farfetched quality to them at times and if I didn’t know Jeff, I’d probably have a hard time believing him, too.
On the way to chemo he regaled us with tales of his youth: How he rode off straddling the family dog like a horse when he was four years old. He was found over a mile away from his house. How he liked to hide in small tight places and ended up getting stuck in the drainage pipe underneath the street. The city had to dig him out by tearing up the entire cul de sac.
After each story he would fondly remember his mother’s inability to scold him. Instead, she would say things like, “I know you don’t know understand money Jeff. But, you just cost the City of Troy $17,000.”
We arrived at the hospital and I went to the OPIV room to have blood drawn from my picc line. Jeff and my mother came along with me. While we were walking down the hall Jeff asked if there were any hot nurses that I could hook him up with. I rolled my eyes.
After my blood was drawn, we took the elevator to the first floor and headed for the cafeteria. The three of us carryed our trays filled with food and sat down at a table. My mom asked him to tell more stories. She also asked him questions about his mother. For the first time, Jeff began to open up about his parents. He talked about how hard it was for him to watch his mother’s health fail. He talked about his father and the depression that he fell in to.
I was shocked. I had never heard Jeff speak about these things. I could tell that they still made him sad. My mother sensed this, too and gave him a hug.
Soon, it was time for me to get my chemo. We walked back to the elevators and rode to the fourth floor. We walked to the OPIV room and I chose a chair to sit in. The nurse hooked the IV to my picc line catheter and the premeds started to drip in my vein.
I told Jeff that I would be asleep soon; I was already beginning to feel the affects of the Benedryl in the premeds. He sat with me for a while and I started to doze.
When I woke two hours later, my mother was sitting with me but Jeff was gone. “He went for a walk,” my mother said, “an hour and a half ago.”
I smiled. Jeff is too antsy and hyper to just sit in a chair. No doubt he went hiking in the desert fields around the hospital. Or was cruising the hallways looking for a nurse to hit on.
He came back about 20 minutes later just in time. My chemo was over and we were ready to go. “So….what did you think?” I asked Jeff.
“I’m glad I came,” he said.