Wednesday, April 10, 2013

No. 421 – Eleanor Rigby

Performer: The Beatles
Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Original Release: Revolver
Year: 1966
Definitive Version: none

As I mentioned, the Yellow Submarine Songtrack—along with the DVD and VHS for the actual movie—came out right after Debbie and I got home from California in 1999. Two days later—Thursday—I was at work when I got a call from Mom.

This in and of itself wasn’t unusual; what was unusual was the conversation. I just figured she wanted to hear about our trip. Wrong. She just had a simple request, which she delivered as plain as could be: Could you drive me to the hospital at 7 a.m. tomorrow?

Of course, but, umm … why? She could play the it’s-no-big-deal card for only so long and broke down. She had to have surgery to remove half of one of her lungs, because she had lung cancer.

Now this couldn’t have been a less surprising development. Her mom, my grandmother, died when I was 7, from lung cancer, so it ran in the family. Mom smoked like a chimney—at least two packs a day, maybe more. I didn’t keep track.

I never noticed how much I hated smoking until I went away to college. After a few weeks, my clothes and hair smelled normal, and when I got home, I noticed a huge difference in air quality. I never smoked, and I never missed it when I wasn’t around it.

Despite the obviousness of the diagnosis, it still was a shock to actually get the news—particularly without any warning or build-up whatsoever.

OK. Stop. Tell me what happened. She said she slipped and fell on the stairs at home and bruised her chest. She went in for an x-ray. They found nothing broken, but they did find a spot on one of her lungs. One biopsy later—all while I was in California—she was turned over to an oncologist who recommended immediate surgery. When I hung up the phone, I was pretty shaken.

Naturally, her surgery would be at the crack of dawn. On the one hand, you think: Why does it have to be at some ungodly hour? On the other hand, you think: Well, wouldn’t you rather have surgery when the doctors are fresh? First thing in the morning it is.

I had to get up at 5:30 to get to Mom’s by 6:30 and get her to the hospital in time to fill out all the necessary paperwork. It was a rare morning where I was up and gone before Debbie even had to get up—heck, it still was dark out when I left home.

The surgery was expected to take four hours, so I had to prepare for a long haul at the hospital. I don’t remember all that I took with me, but I’m sure I took a few baseball books to occupy my time. (This was before I had portable computing power.) One thing I took was my Discman and the Yellow Submarine Songtrack. I definitely would need some good music to get me through the day.

(To be continued)

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