raking the leaves always makes me think of cancer

Well, at least for the last 11 years it has.

I am not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV. I don’t know why some events trigger memories; I do know that smells are the most evocative for memory, although I don’t really care to know why. I just know that a childhood friend always thought that my childhood house smelled like spaghetti (with tomato sauce, etc), so that when I cook spaghetti with tomato sauce, which is very rare since ISHI doesn’t eat tomatoes, I think of that childhood friend and my childhood, just a little bit.

But this is not a function of smell that I am talking about. It is the memory of an action that accompanied a group of thoughts. No, make that a group of emotions. There was not much thinking going on, just feeling.

I could cue up the music now…

Beware–Tangent approaching:

Lloyd Webber, fearing that the tune sounded too similar to a work of Puccini, and the opening – the haunting main theme – also resembles the flute solo in The Mamas & the Papas’ 1965 song “California Dreamin’“, asked his father’s opinion. According to Lloyd Webber, his father responded, “It sounds like a million dollars!” So he based the haunting opening bars of the tune on Ravel’s Bolero.[citation needed] The carefull listener could also notice Memory sounds highly similar to the song Viņi dejoja vienu vasaru[2], composed by the latvian composer Imants Kalniņš for Elpojiet dziļi, a 1967latvian movie.

Oh yeah, I knew the part about the Latvian movie reference, for sure. Really a beautiful song, isn’t it?

Where was I?

Maybe I’m also thinking about illness because there are so many instances of it these days and I’m hearing about them all, it seems. Many of them ending with endings, unfortunately. I had started a blentry about taking people off my prayer lists, but it was getting too depressing.

So I went with this instead.

So 11 years ago  בַּיָמִים הָהֵם בַּזְמַן הַזֶה ISHI was waiting to start chemo for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We had known about it since the summer, but he was told that it would be okay (I think that is the best word) to wait until after all the holidays to start treatment. So for at least a month or two, the doctors knew, we knew,  and then the family knew, and then we had to tell the public. And by the public, I mean the shul. And then the rest of the world found out, if they had to.

But in that meantime, that very mean time, life was supposed to continue as normal, through all the holidays, through our nephew’s bar mitzvah celebration, through all the conversations with all the people that we had contact with.

Which brings me to the chore of raking leaves.

I enjoy the first bag’s worth. I enjoy the freshness in the air. When I warm up with the effort, it’s not enough to sweat, the absence of which I enjoy . I also like the monotony, of a sort, losing yourself to the task at hand.

As I said, for the first bag. The other day, I cleared up the driveway from the pine needles (sorry, T) and enough leaves to fill one bag, and then another half.

And that led me to think back to the raking that I was doing with ISHI 11 years ago, before we had sent out the letter to the community. So when one of the shul members walked by, and she invited herself to jump in our pile, I joined her.

That was the first time I did that for many years and the last time that I can remember doing it.

It was a great release.

ISHI didn’t join in. Too much dog poop on his mind, among many many other things. Eleven years later, he still looks over his shoulder for dog poop and cancer.

I can handle that.


10 responses

  1. Yes, I have short-circuit memory links like this that bring it all back. I had an almost two-month wait between diagnosis & treatment, so I also related to that surreal feeling of carrying on a regular life while…

    And, I would love to jump in a big pile of leaves with you (as long I as don’t have to rake it)!

  2. Pingback: food, as most things should be considered « But Mostly Hers

  3. Pingback: 48 years later « But Mostly Hers

  4. Pingback: the myth of sisyphus vs. groundhog day while raking leaves once again | But Mostly Hers

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