I know it wasn’t fair to Michael to ask him to be the unwitting accomplice to my suicide, but no one in my family would let me get close to a 220 outlet or a deep gorge. Since I planned my tour to be terminal, even if I wasn’t, not with MS, I paid Michael in advance. He could have just gone through the motions manueuvering my wheelchair around San Francisco’s Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf, but he obeyed my every whim with good humor and sympathy. He said I was his future, when there was no bone left in his hip to pound metal and screw plastic into. Since he’s only a few years younger than I am, I could pretend in restaurants and in taxis that Michael was my faithful husband (probably with another woman back in Atlanta) or devoted lover.
That’s why I felt guilty on the appointed day, when Michael pushed me up onto the Golden Gate Bridge and we rolled along the pedestrian way toward Sausalito. It was a good day for a leap or a bananafish: sunny and clear, the first such day since we’d arrived in rain and fog. I’d read about the bridge and knew I had just enough strength and coordination to get over the rail. All I had to do was drop my bag and distract my last care-giver. (to read more, click here)
When I got the lung cancer, I wanted to move out there to St. Louis and live with Becky, her husband, and my two grandsons. But she wouldn't take me in even though she had plenty of room. She said she'd find me an apartment close to her home, but couldn't have me in the house because of my smoking. It's no goddamned restaurant she's running. I just wanted a room. I'd smoke in the bedroom. But she said the smell would get into the air ducts and go all over the house. Can you imagine that? Turning your father away because of a smell. (to read more, click here)
When we found out about my colon, Marie and I decided to visit the old country, Italy , which we had dreamed about for many years, before it was too late. We found out about Terminal Tours from several of our friends; it seems to have become a popular service in Philadelphia . Why I couldn't say.
Michael Keever arranged our visit. He listened to the stories our grandparents had told us, stories that had been in the family for years and set us up to see what we had only dreamed of before. Neither of us had been out of the United States . He had us flown into Paris , then a bus ride to another airport, and a flight into Pescara , the first stop on Italian soil. I'm happy he drove us south to Marie's ancestral home. Italians don't seem to have rules or lanes for driving. His athlete's peripheral vision saved the day several times. (to read more, click here)
When it came right down to it, I just had two questions, probably the same ones most people ask: Why me? Why this? And the questions aggravated me just as much as the disease did. I wanted my questions to be different, because I was not “most people.” I'd always had a certain style, even when I was in the convent. After twenty years of training and the discipline of that life, I still had style. That's why I wanted my questions and my disease to be different. Please understand that I wasn't in one of those cookie-cutter convents. Most of us well-educated women maintained a lot of individuality. We did smooth out our own and one another's rough edges, just enough to make community life possible.
But there it was… my terminal disease… and it had poetic justice. I guess that's better than no justice at all. The justice (certainly not the poetry) was that it started at my peripheries, and I've always been worried about those. Not that I've lived life on the edge; I haven't. But edges matter. I know this from gardening, where I want to see the line where the hardscape meets the softscape. And in most cases, I don't want my plants to touch each other in wild tumbling masses. I prefer discrete. My sister thinks it's because, when I was learning to feed myself, I had one of those plates divided into three sections. My food groups never touched. I was nearly 20 before I could eat foods that touched each other. Forget about stew! I didn't really change this behavior until I went to the convent. We had a lot of stew…and hash. (to read more, click here.)
I wish I could say that Michael Keever and Terminal Tours saved my life... but he did the next best thing. Until I was diagnosed with inoperable anvilonoma in October 2003, I'd never even heard of inner-ear cancer. I'd been sporadically dizzy for months, but it wasn't until the dizziness put me off my feed (I have always been a man who likes his feed) that I sought medical help. I thought I had bad shrimp or something, but suddenly what I had was twelve to eighteen months to live. Very Bad Shrimp. (I've tried to keep my sense of humor, such as it is.) (to read more, click here.)