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C is for Childhood, anointing purity thereof

lovinghands
Granddaughter holding grandfather, Hayward, CA.

A month’s daily output here has been dramatically interceded upon by a marked jolt to my Pops’ biographical timeline, in the form of another stroke. He has surprised us by being the proverbial Eveready bunny after past setbacks.

Not so, this time.

This afternoon, my daughter took his hand in hers (first holding it alongside my hand, and then taking it into both her own). For minutes upon minutes on end, she stroked the back of his hand, and then his forearm. Put her soft-soft nine-year-old girl cheek against his hand. All the while, smiling at him radiantly, deeply. As if she knew something he and I didn’t quite.  We both looked on in wonder.

(By way of explanation to the children: “Think of DadDad as a magnificent castle, and room by room –  sometimes a whole wing at a time –the lights are going out.”)

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There she lies

There she lies
Turning nine before my very eyes
Turning nine before my very tired eyes
Effortlessly, in her sleep
Bigger now than she has ever been
Yet half the age she’ll be when she leaves home.

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Here, now

Dadtryptich
Left of his bed, our hands, right of his bed, Castro Valley, CA.

Tomorrow will be the twenty-year anniversary of my mother’s death. Breast cancer metastasis. Hers was the second in a three-part string of family cancer deaths, the oldest to go (my dad’s younger sister died not very many years before).

My dad had only just retired from his position as a Geography professor just a few years earlier, and had been teaching classes at the local community college, primarily for the enjoyment of it, and because he’d been asked. The two of them were going to write a textbook together, a long-discussed and long-delayed project. Hydrology of California? Something in the field of physical geography. He had met my mom when they were both graduate students in Geography, and hydrology was her area of concentration. She helped draw the maps for his doctoral dissertation, later helped him craft syllabi, grade papers, and, when he was away, guest-taught his classes. She was always a hit.

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Do something about cancer

Everyone complains about cancer but few of us do anything about it.  Not because it doesn’t touch us; it does. I don’t know a person whom it hasn’t, directly or indirectly. It has changed (more appropriately rent) the fabric of my family of origin dramatically. (Aunt. Mother. Nephew.)

Most of us don’t do much about cancer because we have no idea what we can do, beyond informed changes in our personal habits. That changes with the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study.

20130308-ACS-130308-0042

Study participants enrolling in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) at The Villages at Carver Family YMCA, Atlanta, Georgia, March 8, 2013. [PHOTO CREDIT: ACS]

For some background: the American Cancer Society (ACS) studies have been instrumental in our learning about how we can prevent cancer. Past long-term studies have demonstrated the link between smoking and lung cancer; the impact of body mass on cancer risk; the impact of hormones, physical activity, and diet on cancer risk; and the link between aspirin use and reduced colon cancer risk.

The Cancer Prevention Study-3 is now out in the field: it’s a long-term study, running for 20 years, and aiming for hundreds of thousands of participants. They’ve got a lot now, but need more, and I’m writing this post to convince you to join me as one of them. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to be part of something very big, and very consequential. Many participate out of a sense of protectiveness for their own or the next generation. Some, like me, will be participating as a way, one among many, of paying back a debt.

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