Thunder and Lightning

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Thunder and Lightning

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thunder-stormFirst published July 24, 2012 on facingcancer.ca

There are moments in this journey where you can only laugh.  Such a moment occurred yesterday.

Those of you living in Southern Ontario know that we’ve enjoyed a summer not dissimilar to that you’d normally experience in Dubai.  I like it actually.  Loathing the chill of winter I find days when your eyelashes sweat most welcome.

Now, admittedly, for my darling wife who is 50% through radiation, the sun and heat are anathema to well being.  She is though holding up remarkably well adorned in the LuluLemon version of a burka!  This is yet another example of how cancer treatment creates new perspectives.  While never a sun worshiper, she is a fair-skinned English rose after all, she would partake of the outdoors with zeal.  But now that her skin is being fried from within and without, she must be enormously careful.  Gabriel, Samuel and I have had to learn that when we get Mommy out to the water park we all need to make sure she stays in the shade and that she is as well greased up with sunscreen as the boys.

Sunday was another day of learning about new perspectives.  It was ‘outdoor-chore’ day at the Kerr household.  Yes, we had good playtime at Forster Park but then we all had to bear down and do some good old-fashioned clean up.  While Mommy and the boys focused on weeding and tidying up the gardens, Daddy was sent aloft to clean the gutters at the rear of the house.

Our gutters feature a labour-saving device(?) in that they are lined with highly porous foam.  This keeps the large chunks out of the eaves while the water flows freely.  So while it works very well on the oak leaves it is not so great at filtering out the detritus of the giant spruces which grace our backyard with Muskoka-like beauty.

To do a proper job you need to remove all of the foam, give it a good hosing, gather up the several pounds of spruce needles residing in the gutters then sluice the entire run with high pressure.  No big deal really but pretty sweaty, dirty work which frankly most guys enjoy.

Then, as often happens in this type of weather, the skies began to darken.  Moving in from the north west came rather ominous slate grey thunderheads.  It was at this point, subsequent to the rain beginning to fall, that I informed my darling bride that I thought it prudent to descend from the heavens to terra firma given that I was standing on a rather attractive and obvious lightning rod.

I commented, quite firmly in fact, that as soon as I heard the first clap of thunder I was going to retire to the dry and less life-threatening shelter of the garage from where I would re-emerge to finish the task when the danger had passed.

“Get back up that ladder”, she demanded. “You’re not coming down ’til the gutters are clean!”

“Uh, yeah, but Katie – I just heard thunder and that means lightning and that means my life is potentially at risk so if it is alright with you I’ll just get back to this when the storm is gone.”

“Do you think I give a darn about thunder and lightning?  They are among the very last things I am worried about.  I am not even afraid to fly any more so a little lightning is no big deal.  Now finish the job!”

“I am doing my best in seeking to understand you my love however I am the one already ascended half way to the heavens so if lightning should strike it will be me who gets hit and that’s something I would really rather avoid.”

“Listen mister, after you’ve been through a cancer diagnosis, two surgeries, four months of chemo and had your body radiated every day then get back to me about giving a squat about what kind of threat the weather poses to your livelihood.  In fact, you might welcome a little lightning as a bit of relief!”

(Author’s note:  I may have paraphrased some of my wife’s commentary.  The thunder drowned out many of her words but certainly not her intent.)

By now, you’re probably aware that I stayed up the ladder.  It was a close call as to which storm was more likely to do me permanent damage.  The one emanating from the 105-lb terrorist on the ground or the inestimable power of Mother Nature in a rage.

Eventually (I did finally sneak down when the second bolt of lightning lit the skies of Oakville), we had a laugh.  Katie apparently is quite at ease with putting my life at risk since she’s already engaged in battle.  I, on the other hand, still have powerful self-preservation interests foremost but this did indeed give me a new perspective on the role of the co-pilot.

Regardless of the fear you might feel, you are not experiencing the very genuine daily threat of the patient and some times it really does do one good to kind of suck it up and get on with life.  That’s a choice we can make easily and one which does not come so easily to those we’re supporting.

However, if next time we’re out in a storm she encourages me to stand in a vacant lot with a two-iron held aloft I’m calling my lawyer ’cause that’s just suspicious.

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