Saturday, December 04, 2010

Hello, new follower!

The weather has eased a bit. No snow has fallen since late on Thursday. Edinburgh felt slightly convalescent yesterday, and a very slight thaw has continued through the night. Hope for our trip to London after all? We shall see. There’s still a lot of the wretched stuff about.

Plans are advancing briskly to get C. home next Wednesday. Our niece went to see the head dr at her GP practice yesterday about arrangements, and her report of the conversation is rather encouraging. She told him how her mother dreads a return of the abdominal pain she was suffering when she was carried off to hospital a month ago. He said that the operation will have relieved the blockage, and it may not return. Death could occur from renal failure or something else.

Surely this plain speaking, however difficult for drs, makes things vastly easier for everybody, including the sufferer. How we must once have tiptoed around, everybody knowing, nobody saying anything! No tears, no hugs, no laughing, just when they are most needed.

I have been re-reading the last chapter of Evelyn Waugh’s biography of Ronald Knox, a prominent Roman Catholic clergyman of the early and mid 20th century, pretty well forgotten by now. He died of colon cancer. (Everybody seems to have it – I’ve also been re-reading Alan Bennett’s account of his.)

After being poorly during the winter of ’56-’57, Knox’s dr suspected cancer. “The disease was not named to Ronald.” The operation on January 20 revealed that it had spread to the liver (as colon cancer has a tendency to do). He got home on February 7th and spent a miserable few months thinking that his failure to improve was his own fault: “He believed that through lack of will he was falling into the habits of an invalid and that he should be able by effort to achieve his normal activities.”

In mid-May his sister was told: “Medical etiquette required that she, as the nearest accessible relative, should be officially informed of what all suspected…At the end of the month, Ronald himself, the last of those concerned, was told he was fatally ill.” He died on August 24. I heard of his death on my wedding day, in New Jersey, a week later, from the best man.

It reads like a report from another planet.


Christmas is not, I suspect, going to be cancelled. I made a little list yesterday morning of five things I might get done during the day. Fairly easy and straightforward things which I had noticed had lately been pushed aside from day to day. I got four of them done, and have started a new list for today.

It includes those blasted braids for the Japanese hat. I finished tidying the scarf yesterday, and spent the rest of knitting time on Matt’s sock – we’re just rounding the second heel. I feel that the braids by now count as Christmas which means I can take time for them during non-knitting hours.


  1. Good morrow, Jean, and thanks for keeping me 'on the radar'. I've been busily catching up with your side of the world. So sorry to hear about your SIL. Such a sadness. I hope you all get to meet up and enjoy yourselvesw over Christmas. It might smack of whistling in the dark to celebrate but infinitely better than memories consisting only of pain of a much loved sister.
    Your snow photos look very pretty and treacherously cold! How on earth you manage to trudge about and not slip over, I can't imagine. A girlfriend of min living in London has missed out on the critical opportunity to buy snowboots and now has wet and cold feet. Hope your toes and nicely clad when you foray out for insulin.

  2. =Tamar6:13 PM

    Celebrating is a ritual. We don't only celebrate because we feel better, we feel better because we celebrate. The solstice season is one of passages of all kinds.

    Snow boots are one of the greater inventions. Also on the list are snowblowers, hot water, toilet paper, and good dentistry...

  3. My father-in-law retired at age 65, spent a lot of money on much needed dental work, then learned he had colon cancer. Before he died the next year, he bemoaned the money spent on his mouth, then, he volunteered to try several new therapies in hopes that it might help someone in the future.

    I barely got to know him, yet I miss him being in our lives.

    Best to you and your family.