Friday, July 31, 2015


I’ve been doing quite of bit of travelling between my Fortress of Ineptitude and the home town of my youth, Y’allville. A few months ago, doctor discovered a lump in my mother’s breast.

I’m a grown ass middle aged man and still there is no more awkward thing to write than “my mother’s breast”. 

She had surgery in June and there was cancer in the lump. However it appears the cancer was very small, contained to that lump and did not spread to my mother’s lymph nodes. 

And in case you’re wondering, no, I have no problem writing “my mother’s lymph nodes”.

Still, this journey was not at an end as it was determined that radiation treatments on the affected breast would be in order. Specifically, 16 radiation treatments over the course of 3 weeks. Now most of my mother’s care is in the capable hands of two incredibly loyal and loving young women named Julie and Crystal. Technically, they are on the family tree as my nieces but given all that have done for my mom (as well as my dad when he was alive), they are more like sisters than anything. When they were just kids, my parents took them in and raised them as their own. (There is a story behind that but not today.) And now they’ve more than repaid that kindness with all that they have done for my mom over the years. 

Me, I live and work about 3 hours away which precludes my helping as much. Which is probably a good thing. If this was more on my shoulders, my mom and I would be eating live crickets and living in a shack made of cardboard boxes in the middle of the woods. And not even particularly good cardboard boxes. Julie and Crystal do a far better job than I would; for example, they have several wonderful cricket based recipes.

But a near daily radiation treatment schedule is more than even these two stalwart ladies can handle so I’ve been making a few extra trips back home over the summer. Here are some observations about this journey.

When I first moved to Greensboro, the trip between my parent’s home and the future location of my fortress was 4 hours+. Now it’s 3 hours. All but 14 miles of the journey is over 4 lane highways with speed limits at 65 to 70. There is this one section of highway with a speed limit change that baffles me. It’s a long lonely stretch of 4 lane highway with a speed limit of 70 MPH. Then, inexplicably, the speed drops to 60 MPH. Now this might make sense if there was a sudden increase in development. You know, lots of exits for homes and businesses. But no, it’s the same tree line panorama; we just have to enjoy it at 10 MPH slower for some damn reason. 

There is one town before I get to my mom’s homestead in Y’allville, an even smaller town I’ll call Scarburg. There’s no way to avoid the center of town which resembles less an American small town and more like a worn torn section of Beirut. Palestinian refugees would take a look at this place, shake their heads and ask, “Can I go back to the Middle East now?”

An odd fact about my trip to Y’allville is how long I can listen to my favorite radio station in Greensboro. The Fortress of Ineptitude is about 10 miles from this radio station yet frequently a radio station 100 miles to the north in Virginia will bleed through. On the other hand, as I drive south, I can still hear my favorite station as far as 120 miles away. Once I finally reach the limits of that signal, I listen to some stations closer to that region of the state. In an observation that I’m sure will surprise no one, the further south I go and the further away from metro population centers I get, the more religious stations increase in number. Seriously, every 2nd or 3rd radio station on the dial is religious programming. And what religion would that programming be centered around, you might ask? I would answer this is in the southern United States so don’t be a smartass. 

As you read this, I will be making my way on another trip today. So far, my mom is doing well with this and she can soon put this cancer thing behind her. Keep her in your prayers and wish me luck as I sneak through, Scarburg again. 

Be good to one another.

I’m So Glad My Suffering Amuses You