Smart and incredibly affecting. Thank you.
I am much less coherent than I would like to be, because this article is so timed as to coincide almost perfectly with my father's birthday. Seven and a half years ago, he died of terminal brain cancer, and I only found out two years ago that my mother knew he was terminal from the start. He did radiation, chemo, and two separate experimental trials, and my parents always gave my siblings and me the impression that he had a fighting chance.
My mother told me that after the first surgery (of two) to remove the brain tumor, when it was tested for malignancy, they declared my father Stage Four. The nurse told her that most people in this position lived around a year -- which is damned close to exactly how long he lived from first diagnosis (one year and four days). And then the nurse told her that it probably wouldn't be good for my father to know this part.
I was young and more vulnerable than I understood at the time so I don't know if I would really want her to have told me. Maybe it would have been worse. Maybe it wouldn't have been so hard when the end came. Maybe it would have been harder for everyone in the end if we had known. Maybe it would have even been harder on my dad himself.
But I find myself furious that my mother felt she had to carry this knowledge entirely alone. Our conversation didn't rule out that she eventually told my dad or a close friend, but she certainly never told her nearly-grown children, and my father took almost nine months to despair that the treatments would work and discontinue them.
The very first doctor told my father to find a beach somewhere, but that was before all the information came in.
I'm willing to concede that everyone was trying their best and doing what they thought was right. Following my father's under-informed wishes.
But I can't help but be horrified that they might have kept information from him when he made the decision of whether or not he would suffer for months. Or that anyone would encourage my mother to carry that burden alone.
Thank you for writing about your experience.
Another potential problem with the stealth maneuver (which I admit I indulge in) is the hilarious delayed reaction. I reconnected with some friends I had lost touch with and dropped it in, then two weeks later, it came up in conversation naturally (I forget the reason) and they were like, "Um, yeah, are we allowed to talk about that? Because...we didn't know what to do with that when you first dropped it in there. Were you gay back when we knew you before and we somehow missed it?"
So they kind of called me on the "What? It's not a big deal!" angle.
On Ask Santa
I think I'm actually tearing up a bit. Man, Christmas really gets to me. In a good way.
I also love all the ways they try to personalize airports. My all-time winner is the Rochester Airport out of upstate New York, although I've only been once for a friend's wedding. However, because I spotted a minor celebrity on whom I had (have) a crush, I and the rest of my traveling party have seen the ENTIRE THING. Some bits twice. On the way to finding him (sitting right by our gate, of course), we saw a military return with full brass-band fanfare, a statue equivalent of a dancing music box with all the different cultures considered worthy by Rochester, New York, and a book store full of all leather bound books which I can't believe is still in business.
I had the earliest flight of my group, and it was ironic that I was the one who wanted to stay.
I have to jump down to say that this is EXACTLY how I feel about airports! I thought I was alone! Yay! Now back to reading tips.
So there IS a place for the sestina!
Sometimes I think my parents decided both to start calculating my weekly allowance as a fake bank account and quietly, discreetly closed my account without a proper payout, because of mine and my sister's obsession with American Girl Dolls (Samantha for me, Felicity for her). I have always appreciated the very basic lesson in finance and balancing a checkbook, however, not to mention the concept of "job performance" being tied directly to "salary". Also, we did not receive nearly as much of an allowance as, reading this back, this whole story makes it sound. Then again, I could afford to save up for AG doll stuff, so, how much of a leg do I really have to stand on here?
But - for the record - you do you. Yes, at some point, you are allowed to stop pretending to be the child they intended to raise. I agree with your statement.
@catalina Hello! Cradle Catholic here with a Mom who's not as intense as yours but in the same vein of faith. She and my sister once had a long fight when my sister (a sophomore in high school talking basic girl talk about what she wanted in a wedding someday long in the future) said she wanted my father (a judge) to marry her because she thought that would be amazing. My mom freaked that she would even CONSIDER being married outside the faith.
So that's just to let you know I'm in the club. For the record (not sure if it matters), I am an actively practicing Catholic at the moment.
But here's my suggestion after all that (probably unnecessary set-up): what about having the marriage blessed? It's the official procedure for people who have been married outside of the Church for whatever reason (couldn't get first marriage annulled, were a different or no faith when they got married, etc.) but want a marriage blessed by the Catholic Church. The rules are much less strict, however, and most priests will do it without a lot of prep and cross-examining about faith because you're already married/living like you are but not religiously married (depending on their level of fundamentalism).
You could have the city hall wedding, let the first wave of panic subside, and then tell her that, upon consideration, you want to have the marriage blessed in her hometown church. To her, it looks like you've realized the error of your ways.
You can also execute this plan without the deception of pretending it's a plan you had later if you're less devious than I am.