Monday, August 16, 2010

Being Ungrateful

My father's father was one of six McInnis children. My grandfather was John. There was Virginia, Elizabeth, Francis (who my father was named for), Joseph who became a priest and Kathleen, who became a Sister of St. Joseph, Sr. M Terence. She signed all her correspondence to us "Lovingly, Aunt Kee" but the nuns at our schools called her Sr. Terence and so did we. When Grace and I were attending St. Francis de Sales elementary school back in the early 70s, Boston, the Archdiocese and the Feds started up this Title I or Title II program. I can't quite remember, but it was an alliance to help students in Catholic schools receive their share of Federal program money to help with students who were struggling. I was never involved. Reading was my strong suit. Now had their been money for teaching deportment and other lady-like Anyway, my Aunt Terence was a liaison between the Feds and the Archdiocese. She would visit the schools to assist or assess with the various programs. When she would visit St. Francis, the nuns would pull us out of class to say hi.

You know how I love being the center of attention! That would have been enough to make me adore her....but she was so much more. I could never put into words how special and kind and patient she was. Back then it was all about how she made me feel, but as I matured (yeah, I did a little), i came to realize that she was someone I should strive to emulate.

But you know how completely unrealistic it is that I should have any hope of being that good. I am vain and selfish and egotistical. But along the way I have done some things right and whatever they were, Sr. Terence and my mother's mother, Mama Kelley get all the credit.

Any patience or generosity or kindness in my teeny-tiny heart were due to their influence.

When I was in high school at Pope John XXIII, the nuns were even more enthusiastic because they were in Terence's order. Sisters of St. Joseph. The nuns at St. Francis were Dominicans. So at Pope John, Terence, and to a lesser extent Grace, Frankie (my brother as opposed to the other Frankies) and Jennifer and I, were even more special.
It was when I was in high school that Terence was diagnosed with cancer. It was metastatic and invaded her everywhere. I came to understand that she was in great pain, but it was never spoken of. Her weight plummeted and she endured many hospitalizations and treatments.

She would often stop at my parent's house with her brown bag lunch and have tea with my mother and grandmother. She was always interested in us and in my mother's extended family as well. My sister Grace was her favorite and I have no problem with that. I know I was loved completely.

As she grew more frail and the treatments battered her, she frequently had ace bandages on her arms. It hurt to see them. I averted my eyes. I tried not to think about it.

I remember a famous case in Boston where some kid's parents wanted to stop their son's chemo and try less difficult things and possibly let him die. I supported them and she corrected me. Nicely, but vehemently. Life was a gift from God and it was wrong not to try everything. What could I say to that? She was exhausted and beaten down from trying to protect the life God gave her. And she was grateful.

I am ashamed to this very day.

Terence passed away in 1981. I was just one month into my pregnancy with Tommy and had not gotten out the the Mother House to tell her. I remember my ex-husband coming down to the Beachmont train station to get me as I left the train - no cell phones there - I cried out and collapsed in his arms. I can still feel the pain. It is as real as when it happened. It was just like when Mama Kelley passed 18 years later.

So today was the third infusion day. We are getting a rhythm going and it went quickly. Although at the end, the IV site wouldn't stop bleeding and the nurse pressed down on it rather strongly. I winced but bit my tongue.

On the way home I was really wiped out, which is strange. Last week I felt energized after the two treatments. Today it was a struggle to get in the car and get rolling.

>As I neared the gas tanks, traffic slowed and I glanced at my right wrist all bruised and wrapped up in Coban. A wave a nausea threatened to overwhelm me. It was just like looking at Terence's arm. I have to do better. I have to try harder.

This treatment is not fully rolling yet. I am not receiving the Revlimid yet. It's $6000 for the 21 day supply. My insurance has a 50% copay. Celgene, the manufacturer has people who help you work this all out. I have had the nicest woman named Lisa helping me.

You know I have not been as cooperative as I should be. You know I have slacked and let them think I am distracted. But I remember exactly what it was like to take Revlimid. I remember what it did to me.

I have been hoping for a long delay.

Oops. Sorry. Not my fault.

Today Lisa called to tell me I have been approved for six rounds of free drug.

She has literally saved me $18,000.

I thanked her profusely.

I didn't mean a word.

I didn't look at my wrist until I could get home and take off the Coban.


Pia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John of Argghhh! said...

Very few people get one of these without pretty much ambushing me.

Feel special, Princess Crabby!

BostonMaggie said...

With friends like I have could I not?

E.Devine said...

Dear Maggie,
Your Grandfather John was my Mother, Therese's brother. My nephew is doing a family history and showed me your blog about Aunt Kee. She did have a talent to make one feel "special".
I was relieved to know that your white count is in the "normal" range.
Were you the one who went to Aunt Bet's wake in June, 2010?
Hope to hear from you.
E. Devine

BostonMaggie said...

Dear E. Devine,
See today's post