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Telephone calls with The Parents have the same scenario: I listen as they report on all their goings-on which is mixed with what my brothers are doing. They have a tendency to report ‘bad news’ interspersed among the mundane which makes the ominous easy to miss. I’ve had decades of training so I tend not to miss these peas among the carrots. I wait for an appropriate pause between Father’s narration on Mother’s cribbage scores and Brother #3’s latest travels to back him up to that quick word-in about starting radiation therapy next week.

“What was that about radiation therapy?” I asked him in the most recent phone call. I then proceeded to play twenty questions with him dragging out of him what the hell is going as he tries to move back to the details of Mother beating him at cribbage. He doesn’t do this out of anxious denial; he just doesn’t see RT as important as being skunked in a card game is.

After we hang up I called Brother #2 “the real doctor in the family” who told me what’s actually happening.* Father had his prostate removed decades ago, in his late 50s. Now in his 80s there was a recent PSA spike.This led to several tests he hadn’t bothered to tell me revealing there a remnant now cancerous. Happily the treacherous residual is small and contained and probably easy enough addressed with high intensity one week’s worth of radiation therapy. Father gets this going next week. Brother #2 says Father is not at all troubled, and he isn’t either. It could be a lot worse.

My parents are not worriers; they always see life as a glass half full even as their glasses are draining. It is the Fraternity of Spo-brothers that do the fretting along the line of ‘Dear me whatever shall we do about Mother/Father?”  Weeks from now I will call Father to get the latest news in a similar process; again my ears will prick up around Item #7 when he slips in he had some post-RT complications that put him and Mother in a pickle.

Brother #2 is in charge of the medical matters while Brothers #3 manages their funds and #4 drops in to play the caretaker and gopher. This leaves Urs Truly to be the fretter.  In every family no matter how many siblings there are there is always the one child who is Chief of Police. 🙂

sad-man-on-phone

*We all have hummingbird brains but Brother #2 thought flow isn’t too bad;  he talks more goal oriented than the rest of us.

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