Tuesday, November 09, 2010

9/11, British-style


My sister-in-law does have cancer. Ovary and bowel. She will have surgery today.

She is a depressive character, sharp-tongued, defensive. She has had a lot to suffer in life, including a rotter for a husband. I don’t think, in the 52 years I have known her, I have ever seen her in such high spirits as yesterday. My husband was worried at how much weight she had lost. I was expecting that, and had feared much worse. She looked well. She likes the hospital, its cleanliness, the doctors, the banter, the food.

She told us that the news was “not good”, and declined to discuss it further until she had had a chance to talk to her daughter, who works a particularly long day on Monday. There were clues, including the fact that something was going to happen today, but no specifics. Her daughter came to see us in the evening, after she left the hospital, where she had been able to talk to a doctor as well as to her mother. A very much appreciated visit, rather than telling us by telephone.

This is an ordeal I had long hoped my husband would be spared. He loves his sister unconditionally. Her love for him is tempered by being younger and made to feel in childhood that he was bigger and cleverer and preferred.

We are five – in descending order of age, my husband, his sister, myself, my sister, and – so young as nearly not to count – her husband. My sister and I have some first cousins, but they are substantially younger and I don’t know them very well anyway. Obviously, one of the horrors of old age is going to be mourning each other and it would be a lot to ask of providence to take us in order. But that’s what one sort of expected.

One has to hope that C. will accept chemotherapy. Some people get a substantial remission.

So, not much knitting. I’m half-way across the long cast-off. I put it aside and knit Matt’s socks for a while last night. Nothing like socks.


  1. Oh dear.

    As you say there is nothing like socks . .

    A phrase from the Book of Common Prayer keeps rolling through my mind: "hold fast that which is good"

    Be aware that a lot of people are holding you in their thoughts.

  2. Thinking of all of you.

  3. Dawn in NL9:17 AM

    Dear Jean,
    So sorry to hear about your SIL and the ordeal your husband will go through. Thinking of you all.


  4. Keeping your family in my thoughts. Family is everything at a time like this.

  5. Sorry to hear about your sister in law. I do hope she continues to feel positive.

  6. Is she being treated at the Western in Edinburgh? The Maggie's Centre there is a powerhouse of help, advice and wonderful support for both patient and family alike. Well worth visiting, if she hasn't done so already.

  7. Gerri in St Paul2:44 PM

    I'm sorry to hear of your SIL's illness. Will keep her, your husband, you and the family in my thoughts and prayers as you all move through this.

  8. I am so sorry to hear this, Jean. And so sorry your husband has to see the sister he loves so much go through this.

  9. Sending thoughts and prayers your way.

  10. Prayers and good thoughts to your sister-in-law and your husband.

    Keeping the faith is a hard thing to do, so if you and yours can't the whole community who enjoys your blog will.

    Be blessed

  11. Sorry to hear about your sister-in-law. Will keep your family in my thoughts.

  12. Always a terrible thing to face whatever the age. I would like to say how much the clarity and precision of your writing impressed me, although I am sure that this is not all that you were feeling.

  13. I am sorry to hear your news Jean. Thinking of you and your family.

  14. I'm sorry to hear about your sister in law's illness. I suppose it comes to us all, but it's nearly impossible to grasp it until it comes so close. Best wishes to you and your family.