Harry’s Host

The other day an old friend of mine wrote on my Facebook wall to tell me that she had an operable brain tumor that was possibly benign. She posted this very nonchalantly as if she were simply going about her day.

I will admit that I was scanning Facebook posts while in the car driving into my development and I almost ran into another car which was leaving our community. I mentioned this to my friend and she said I shouldn’t be texting or reading while driving. And, while she is right in admonishing me, I wanted to tell her that reading about her tumor on Facebook was just a little odd.

I ultimately deleted the post and reached out to her, whereupon she sent me an email giving me details and pictures about the tumor she had now named Harry. As she wrote the details of how her surgery would be performed, she had a demeanor in her words that I found incredibly brave. I still haven’t brought myself to respond to her email because I really didn’t know what to say other than, ‘Wow!’

I spent all day thinking about her, because this woman is a phenomenal mother, daughter, sister, mentor and friend. When you hear the word TUMOR associated with someone you love, it is just plain scary. You immediately want to call Derek Shepherd from Seattle Grace to come work on your friend (I know I watch too much television!).

Our relationship had an odd start because we were work acquaintances, then she (begrudgingly) became my boss at work (she didn’t want me in her department) and then we became friends (once she realized how wonderfully talented and humble I am).

But our relationship was not a normal one because neither of us lives in the normalcy realm. She’s brought such interesting notions into my life. For instance, she taught me not to refer to things as on the right or left hand side. She taught me that things are on the right or the left (there is no hand anywhere). I can’t look at a paper that has come out of a copier or printer without looking to see if the ink is bleeding across the page – she ruined mediocre print jobs for me. I can’t see a plate of ground beef and rice without thinking of her daughter when she was a child because that’s all the kid would eat and anytime I’m feeding a baby, I’m well aware that the child can easily throw all of their food on me, because that’s exactly what her son did to me once when we were babysitting him. When Yvonne and I hear the word Jupiter we immediately look at each other and say Hoopeetter (only we would understand) in a mock Spanish accent (a story for another time).

My friend and some of her siblings each have a hearing deficiency, challenge, loss (I don’t know the politically correct terminology for deaf) – she always wore a hearing aid. Her Pittsburgh accent coupled with her hearing loss has provided my life with one of the funniest stories I will share with you now.

One night we had our friend Martha and her husband over and Harry’s Host (my new name for her) showed up with her brother Bobby. Bobby was one of the siblings with a hearing loss. We introduced everyone and we were all talking and Martha said to Harry’s Host: ‘You have such a peculiar accent, where are you from?’ Without missing a beat, with a huge smile on her face and knowing she was about to deliver the best punch line ever, Harry’s Host said, ‘My accent is from Pittsburgh and it’s not peculiar, I’m just deaf.’

Yvonne and I almost wet our pants while my friend Martha slid to the other room in shame and embarrassment. Meanwhile, my friend just laughed out loud (sort of like Roseanne used to do at the beginning of her show’s opening – yes I watch too much television!) That’s the type of person Harry’s Host is and will always be. Her laugh is inimitable and distinct and what makes her self-deprecating humor all the more special is that she has a heart of gold.

That is why I’m angry at Harry. I know there is a 90% probability that Harry is benign and I know that my friend is extremely strong and will get through this, but a big part of me is not happy that Harry has come to visit (albeit temporarily). If he was looking for a host, perhaps he should have picked on someone else, preferably on someone who doesn’t have such a wonderful spirit, preferably on someone who doesn’t have such a beautiful mind and preferably on someone, who at the very least, might have heard him coming.

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