July 18, 2008

About My Aunt Polly

The news is not good.

If you've read my blog in the past, then you have read a couple of things about my Aunt Polly. She is my mom's sister-in-law, but she has always been like a big sister to me. When I was growing up, and especially in my teen years, I spent a lot of time at her house, and it was there that I had some of the best, and happiest, times of my life. There were bad times, too, as it is in most families, and some of the bad times I helped her to get through, as best I could.

There were times when she was there for me, when no one else was, or could be, like the time when, after a very difficult birth, when my son and I almost died, she trudged to the hospital several blocks away, in snow and rain, in a coat that was too thin to keep her warm, or dry-- every single day for the three weeks I was there. She sat there and held my hand, and told me that everything would come out all right. There has always been a bond between us, which may, or may not be unusual, but to me it is precious.

She taught me to make real fudge, using Hershey's Cocoa, and canned Pet Milk, which was always a treat for her family of seven children--of which, at least three of those children died tragic deaths. No matter how many miles between us, I was the one she always wanted to call first, when those tragedies happened, to pour her heart out to, to have pray with her. When Uncle Bo, her husband was on his death bed, I'm the one they called on..the one they wanted to offer words of comfort, which somehow, by God's grace, was comforting to them. It just always seemed right that I should do that, to be there for them.

Last year, Aunt Polly was diagnosed with Lymphoma, which spread to several parts of her body. She underwent chemo, and I, of course, talked to her on a regular basis, encouraged her, and loved her, and she did the same for me, and then, six months ago, she was declared cancer free. The PET scan which she had three months later, still showed her as being cancer free. Then, a few days ago, her daughter who was spending some time with her-- in her apartment which she had moved back into only weeks before--woke up in the middle of the night, and found Aunt Polly absent from the apartment, which is a high-rise. She searched everywhere, then went down to the lobby, and outside, and still, she was nowhere to be found. Finally, she found her on another floor of the building, and she didn't know where she was, nor even the number of her apartment. The next day, her doctor was contacted, and after hearing what had transpired, ordered another PET scan, which showed that her brain was filled with cancerous lesions. He said that there is nothing to be done, that trying to treat it would only hasten her death, and the prognosis is that she will survive no longer than two to four months. Ironically, her six months PET scan had been scheduled for that very day, and the same day, her son moved her back to his home. Aunt Polly's days of independence are over, but she made every effort to try to make the most of those days, after the chemo therapy.

Two days ago, when I heard the dreadful news, I was heartsick, but tonight I talked to my Aunt Polly on the phone, and I feel better. She is not experiencing any pain right now, but says that she is dizzy. She talked about the cancer coming back. "It came back in my head," she said. "Maybe, it won't kill me." She laughed. "I sure do love you, " she said.

"It's been a long time, since I've seen you. I asked Tony and Barbara, reckon Janice is mad at me?" That made me smile. As if I could ever be mad at this woman, whose heart and mind are totally without guile.

I am glad to know that, for the moment, she is not suffering, but I am not naive enough to think that it will continue to be so. I've seen what that terrible affliction can do, and it seems that it may progress rapidly.

I told her that we are going to try our very best to get down there by the end of this month. She laughed, and said, "Lord, I hope so." And again, "I sure do love you, baby." It was hard hanging up the phone, but she sounded happy.

Oh, Aunt Polly.. I love you, too, more , probably, than you will ever know. I will never be able to look at a can of Pet Milk, or Hershey's Cocoa without thinking of you--but I will try not to be sad, but only remember the good times when you were teaching me to drop spoons of liquid fudge into cold water, testing the doneness of it, and of how you laughed at how precise I tried to be, while doing it. "Just drop it, and let it go, baby..it will turn out alright."

I think maybe, in the end, that is just what she will do--drop it and let it go, knowing that it will turn out alright.


k said...

Oh, Jan. I'm so sorry.

It seems like you're already missing her, the nature of her illness means she's partly gone even while her physical self is still with us. That is hard, Jan. It's hard.

Maybe it wouldn't be so hard if you weren't so lucky to have her in your life in the first place.

Such a very precious friend is way too much to lose. I hope her time left here will be smooth, she can let go and it will come out all right.

But I want it to come out all right for you too. I want to see it fixed, and I know it can't be.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Jan said...

k..thank you so much for your kind words.

My Aunt Polly is a precious woman, in every way, and my heart is heavy.

It is as scripture says: "Our life is but a vapor."

But it is a comfort to know that her life is in God's hands..and she wouldn't want it any other way.

rockync said...

Jan, I'm so sorry for your heartache. I will be praying for Aunt Polly to remain painfree and for you to find some solice in thinking of her with your Mama in the Sweet By and By. They'll be standing on that beautiful shore waiting to greet you when it's your time.
Dith Pran, Khmer Rouge survivor and subject of the movie “The Killing Fields” spoke of his illness (pancreatic cancer) in a March interview with The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., saying he was determined to fight against the odds and urging others to get tested for cancer.
"I want to save lives, including my own, but Cambodians believe we just rent this body," he said. "It is just a house for the spirit, and if the house is full of termites, it is time to leave."
"A house for the spirit", I like that image. Death is not a disappearance, it's just a move to another dwelling.
Aunt Polly is special to you and you are obviously special to her --I know you will be a comfort to your family and in doing so, find your own comfort among them.
Peace & love to you, always.

Jan said...

rockync..thank you for your encouraging words.

Yes, my mom, and Aunt Polly were always very close, too..more like sisters, than sisters-in-law.

I spoke to her, today, and we laughed, as usual.

We talked about the fudge..she repeated her recipe to me..how about that? :)

rockync said...

I think you should share this fudge recipe and then tell Aunt Polly it's being made all over the country; maybe even the world! I for one am drooling just thinking about this fudge, which sounds luscious.

overactive-imagination said...

I'm so very sorry to hear about your Aunt Polly. She sounds like such a lovely woman and I can tell that she means alot to you. I will keep you, your Aunt and your family in my prayers.

Northwoods Woman said...

Hugs hun. Love ya!

Jan said...

rockync..I thought about putting the recipe on here.

I doubt that many people actually use a recipe found on a blog, unless it is something really unusual, but you just never know.

Next time we talk, I'll write it down, but it is probably just a regular old recipe which has been around for years.

Mmmm..just thinking about that fudge makes my mouth water, too! :)

Jan said...

overactive..thank you, prayers are always appreciated.

I know that she will be glad to know that others are remembering her in their prayers!

Jan said...

Livey..thanks for the hugs!

Love you, back.

GUYK said...

I'm sorry Jan..and I do hope that you are able to go see her soon.

rockync said...

I, for one, will be watching for that fudge recipe! :)

Jan said...

Guyk..thank you.

We're hoping to get to go down in a few weeks, and I, of course, talk to her on the phone as often as possible.

Jan said...

rockync..will try to get that recipe again, soon! :)

Dazd said...

Finally...got onto your site! Dunno what the hang-up on my end was.

My thoughts and prayers will be with Aunt Polly and the entire family!

Desert Cat said...

Dear lady, I'm sorry to hear this. You're facing the same thing I am now.

May God attend your thoughts and guide you into His peace.

Jan said...

DC..thank you, my friend.

k said...

How is she now, Jan? Do you have any news?

And BTW - I'm with RockyNC about that fudge recipe. Me, I love to read recipes - well, you probably already knew that! - and I think it would be a blast to have this one.

Perhaps, when you see her, you could even show her your blog on the computer? If she's up to it, and you have net access? That might be fun too.

Lydia said...

Hello Jan,
I'm so sorry to hear about your aunt Polly. It made me so sad to read your post. I can see that you and your aunt Polly had a very close and special bond that will not be broken even when your aunt is in heaven. There are people in our lives that touch are souls in such a profound way, which will always keep us close to them no matter what happens. When we can get to experience the type of connection that you and your aunt Polly have, it's a true gift from god. I will keep you and your Aunt Polly in my prayers.

Jan said...

Lydia..thank you for your kindness.

Yes, my Aunt Polly and I do have a very special bond, and it is certainly a very special gift, as you have so eloquently expressed.

Thank you for your prayers.

Jan said...

k..there is nothing new to report. She is just the same sweet person, still trying to laugh about things, still very loving in her expressions to me.

I told her that many people were praying for her, people that she doesn't know, and don't know her, and she was very happy about that.

She has no idea what a blog is! LOL

I keep forgetting to ask for the recipe, again, but will try to remember the next time I talk to her.