I'm getting ready to move. Won't that be fun? It's not far. Just down the street. As some of you may know, I live in a mobile home community. Some may call me trailer park trash. And some may kiss my ass. I enjoy living here. I have lived in a lot of different places. Lived in the big house in the country, where my children grew up. Until I got cancer. Oooh! You would have thought I had contracted the plague. Let me say this, cancer is not a communicable disease.
When a marriage is faced with life or death issues, it seems to define exactly how strong that marriage is. Mine was not that strong. It does not mean that my ex-husband was a bad person for running out in the middle of my chemotherapy treatments, quitting his job, and moving out of state. OK, maybe there is a tad bit of anger there. But he did come back, several times, to get the rest of the things that weren't tied down. Especially the computer. We didn't have Internet access at the time. But, I remember how much Travis loved that computer. The break-up was hard on him. The cancer was hard on him. EJ tried to become the man of the family after his father left. At sixteen, that is a very large burden to carry. Coming out of chemo, with a 50/50 chance of recurrence, I was very frightened about what would happen to the boys, if it did come back.
There is something that happens to some people undergoing chemo that is called Chemo Fog. That's where you don't remember anything. Before chemo, I had an almost photographic memory. When recalling a line of poetry, for example, I saw the book, the page, the line, in my mind. Now, I wade through a miasma of clutter, and blank spaces, and gloom, and then end up on Google. Thank the lord for search engines. Doctor's might tell you it doesn't exist. Nurses will understand what you mean. And other cancer patients know exactly what you mean. I bring all this up, because at the time, I wasn't thinking at my most capable. I still, occasionally, tend to repeat myself. Back then, it was all the boys could do to keep reminding me, "Mama, you said that already." "Oh, OK." They weren't being sarcastic, they were just reminding me. So all of these things left me concerned for the boys. What would happen if I just up and croaked?
When my ex called and said he had found us a new house in Georgia, just for me and the boys, I thought it was a good idea. After selling our farmhouse to a couple with 5 kids, we loaded up everything we owned. They were renting from us, waiting for their loan to go through. Little did we know it would take two and half years for that to happen, and the lawyer almost went nuts trying to collect payments from them. I remember how he fussed at me for agreeing to rent the farmhouse to them, while they waited for their loan, for the exact amount of our mortgage payments. As he hopped around his office, he told me I could have rented it for twice that. I just said, "Oh, well, I never thought of that." Of course not. I was wading through fog.
Anyway, we arrived in Georgia, and until we could move into the new house, we stored everything in my brother-in-law's double-wide which he was "renovating". We took two cats with us, my beloved Guilda, and Speedy, Travis' cat. After the nine hour drive, I let Guilda loose, as she was in a horrible state. It was after dark when we got there, and I honestly believed she would do her little job and come right back to me. I never saw her again. She just disappeared. I went back many times searching for her, asking people who lived close by, (who looked at me like I was a freak) but I never found her. Travis was smart, he kept Speedy in the car. Since it was so late, my ex said we could stay at Dot's house. Even in the fog, a little red flag went up in my brain.
We moved into a little trailer that some friends of my sister-in-law, Dot, had just down the road from her house. We're talking the backwoods and clay roads of south Georgia here. It was a 50 x 10 foot trailer. But it was a place to stay until we could move into our new house. I was glad that the boys would be around all their Georgia cousins, and aunts and uncles. I did not realize at the time how utterly lost EJ was.
The next day we went looking for the house my husband had told me about, and wonders of wonders, he couldn't remember where it was. He knew he had passed it several times. We drove around all morning, he could do so, as he wasn't working. I learned much later that he had received a nice settlement package from his former employer, none of which I received. We stopped many times, at different houses, but none of them were for rent.
There was no house. My boys and I lived in the little trailer from March 1995 until June of 1995. By that time, EJ had quit school in the little Georgia town, had rebuilt the motor in his truck, pretty much on his own, with a little help from his uncle Randall. We lived close to what I had called family for almost 20 years. They welcomed Travis, which was not hard to do. Everyone welcomed Travis, the peacemaker. The youngest. The one who carries the families emotions in their hearts. I know. I was the youngest. EJ and I felt like guests, who had over stayed their welcome. Their father did not spend time with them, as I had thought. They rarely saw him.
During those three months, none of the cousins or aunts or uncles came to visit. I was told of two or three people who had died of colon cancer since I had been diagnosed. I was still going through that why me stage, and feeling guilty a little about surviving. I remember my sister-in-law looking me straight in the eye, and saying, "But they had the bad cancer." What, you mean there's a good cancer out there? Damn, this should be on the news. No, the truth is I wouldn't be here if my cancer had not been located next to my appendix. Which became inflamed, and caused unbelievably constant pain. They thought they were doing an appendectomy, and then the Dr. started talking to me about a mass, and a bowel resection, and an oncologist. I've never quite been able to figure out that statement. It's been in the box, and I'm putting it back.
When school ended, EJ geared up to drive home, to VA. He had plenty of friends he could stay with, and he planned to go to summer school to pick up the classes he had missed. He hated Georgia. It wasn't home. I had found a job by this time, and could see possibilities opening up. But, I could not let him go alone. And he meant to go. So the three of us sat down, and discussed it. Travis decided to stay, as he wanted to spend more time with his father. He was turning 16 and I felt that this was his right. I knew that Travis would be ok staying with his Aunt Dot. She loved him as much as I did, well almost. Who knows? How do you measure love? I knew he would have fun. It hurt. It hurt so much, but I had to respect his wishes. And, selfishly, I secretly hoped he would get homesick and decide to come back to VA.
So, EJ and I loaded up what we could in a Ford EXP, and headed home. I might have had $200.00 to my name. We were going to stay with good friends until I got on my feet. Ahh, so much for well laid plans.
to be continued