Monday, December 11, 2006

Gloria in Excelsis

My mother is the second of four sisters. No matter how hard he tried, my maternal grandfather, Arthur Otto Tomsen (A.K.A. ‘A.O.T.’, which he claimed stood for ‘Always on Top’*) could not produce an heir to his family name.

Over the years, two of the sisters have traveled to opposite ends of the continent, following their husbands’ academic careers. (My parents met when my Uncle Art, then a postdoc at Washington University, introduced his friend and fellow postdoc, my dad, to his girlfriend’s cute younger sister.) The remaining two sisters stayed close to their hometown of St. Louis. Today my mother’s older sister, Gloria, comes from New Jersey to visit for ten days. It will be the first in several years as she has been taking care of her ischemic stroke–debilitated husband, Arthur, and, over most of the last year, battling stage 4 lung cancer herself, including suffering several rounds of chemotherapy and a pulmonary lobectomy. As much as I love her, I don’t expect her visit to be the most uplifting experience. But at least my dad will have someone with whom to commiserate in a way that only cancer victims can.

Neither of these two fine people have long to live.

*Yes, knowing this tidbit does inform understanding my mother

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