Teddy Rodd's Journal
Written Apr 14, 2013 10:44pmLate the night before, I had laid out all the makings for the perfect bowl of my morning café.Fresh, fair-trade beans roasted here in Durango.Coffee grinder.An Italian stovetop Espresso pot.Stainless steel milk steamer.The smoldering fire in the wood stove burst to life as the red embers hungrily consumed the newly added ponderosa pine. My hands smelled sticky sweet of golden sap. The early morning rays of yellow-orange shot through the kitchen window illuminating the logs of our home in the middle of nowhere.As if on command, Teddy, instantly appeared from the loft at the top of the stairs, cocked his hips to the left, shot his arms up and out to the right, and announced his early morning arrival, “I’m here everybody!”Hips spasamed in a new direction, “Oh, please, please hold back all the paparazzi!” Arms swayed to the opposite side, “The party can start, peoples!”Then in perfect Bee Gee fashion, hips, arms and long blond mane swiveled at the center of an invisible sparkling hula-hoop, as he rhythmically made his way down the stairs.My steaming espresso pot gurgled to the pervading 70’s beat, happily pressing the pungent, black nectar to the top, spilling over into the surrounding catch basin.We really need to suspend a disco ball at the apex of our great room.Within minutes our olive oil stained, twenty-year old cookbook was splayed wide open on the kitchen counter top. Teddy’s left, pointer-finger landed on the crepe recipe. Therein ensued a flamboyant mixing of flour, baking powder, eggs and milk to the tune of something very retro and long hair.Teddy’s changing.“Hey, Bugga, would you please go wake Nano up?”“Yeper doodles!”In one smooth, almost poetic movement, he reached down to open the door next to the sink, pulled out our biggest pasta pan from the back corner and snagged a large metal ladle with the other hand. He then proceeded up the stairs leading to big brother’s sweet slumber…as if this was a perfectly normal way to wake him up.The change came all of a sudden.Though it was already mid-Saturday morning, my triple shot café crème had yet to break through with any thought of reason.As Teddy pounded up the stairs though with this “really bad idea,” the ensuing drama began to flash frame-by-frame through my fragmented thinking.When I was a kid I used to break out all the pots, pans and metal spoons on the kitchen floor in front of the sink. I’d sit cross-legged on the floor creating my own symphony of metallic clanging, banging and squealing.I wasn’t a quiet kid.Don’t know how my mom stood it.My parents could usually hear my high pitched voice singing or making some kind of rhythmic something or another clear down to the end of Aston street.Where I grew up.Where I cut my teeth on life’s most difficult lessons.Reason took hold.“Um, Teddy, hold on. No, absolutely not.”He raised his eyebrows, rolled his eyes, and cocked his head to the side with an expression that demanded, “Like, what’s the problem, Dad?”Teddy’s a teenager.And not just by calendar years.Aunt Karen, just up the hill, says he just talks LOUDER.A flamboyant flair has settled in.Not exactly sure though when it happened.Somehow, somewhere though, he’s no longer the little boy merely slaying dragons…among other horrific beasts.And in regards to that word, we hardly ever utter it out loud. It seems to be tucked deep down, back in that dark corner with all the pots and pans.It’s like he’s no longer been inflicted with this dreadful nightmare.Or if he has to have it, it’s sure not going to keep him from living life to the fullest.Yet he can’t escape his weekly venture to the infusion clinic.Every Wednesday.He walks into the cancer clinic, very much not the life the party, and beelines it for the candy drawer where he selects a flavor to suck, so as not to taste the foreign, liquid pushed into the center of his chest.I impatiently wait for Laurel to text me.She takes off Wednesdays now from work to do it.In some ways, our week revolves around our own hula-hoop called “blood and liver counts.”When all the poking, prodding and pushing’s done, we have to always ask, somewhat hesitantly, so as not to make any more real he’s where we are and what he’s getting, yet feel like we should ask, “So how you feeling, Bugga?”It’s always, “Great.”On to being just a normal kid with most of his hair still intact.Just recently though, he processed out loud, “Chemo day is kind of a drag.”Laurel caught his tired eyes in the rearview mirror, “Yeah, I’m sorry, Boo.”So, let’s plan something fun every week. Right after chemo.”“Sure. Like what?”The weekly treat has turned into going to Durango Joe’s, our local coffee hangout.The baristas eyes always light up when Teddy walks through the door on chemo Wednesday.It’s always on the house.Anything he wants.Compliments of Joe.Back on the ranch, it’s Friday evening.Allie’s throwing together some smoked salmon and goat cheese crepes.Laurel’s always said that she cannot dance a beat. With a teenage smirk, I turn the volume up on some African music we found years back.As the musicians cry out, “Jambo Bwana (hello mister)!” Laurel’s little frame begins to undulate and sway to her African roots, having grown up in Kenya most of her youth.She can no longer stay put, sitting down.“Habari gani (how are you)?”We’re all suddenly drawn to the mesmerizing beat.“Mzuri sana (very well)!”Within seconds Allie and I are attempting Salsa steps to the African drums. Teddy somehow manages to incorporate his retro, long hair rhythm, as he dances down the middle of the kitchen to the aroma of golden fried crepes.The musicians continue to spark life into our home, “Hakuna matata (there is no problem)!”Hips and bottoms are swaying and bumping.By now, Nano, our oldest, is wondering how in the world he was born into such a family.Truly, there are no problems, as time seems to stop.In just a few weeks we head back up the gun barrel to Children’s for the next scan.I almost went for the pots and pans under the sink.Steve, Teddy’s Dad
Written Feb 15, 2013 6:48pm
Teddy sits on the examination table blowing up a blue latex glove till he’s beet red in the face, and then exuberantly exhales, “Free for three more months!”
Our medical team graciously smiles at our obvious relief. Though the size remains more-or-less the same, there’s no apparent new growth.
All our pent-up tension seems to splutter out the tail end of his makeshift party balloon. So off to his favorite Italian joint to celebrate with Fettuccine Alfredo.
Three months until the next scan.
Steve, Teddy’s Dad
Written Feb 13, 2013 9:09pm
“Hey Dad, wanna hang out?”
He was slicked over in crusty ice and snow. Infused with pungent diesel from the snowmobile.
How could I object?
Nano, our seventeen-year-old, was asking me to play in the snow.
Not just any snow. Uncle Rob’s snow. Some day, you’ll have to come experience it.
It’s a two hundred meter luge.
Gap jump included.
Resulting in many a juicy, red lips-split. Brain bucket absolutely mandatory (that’s helmet in Colorado-ease).
Teddy’s Children’s Rehabs Docs would be happy.
If you can’t find Teddy, look for cousin Caleb. If you can’t find Caleb, then look for brother Nano. If you can’t find Nano, then look for him on his homemade ski bike (spray painted ninja black) on Uncle Rob’s insurance policy nightmare.
Flying down a pine tree’d hill on a plastic, horse trough sled will cure most compulsive, anxious behavior.
At least mine for the moment.
You hang on for dear life and hope you don’t slam into a ponderosa pine.
So we all take turns driving the diesel sled.
Amazing how a snowmobile can tow three kids back up the slick decline to the teetering top.
Then back down.
All day long.
Nothing else but daring risk and ice courses through our descent.
Gone are the pokes, blood tests and infusions. No longer the kid with cancer.
We left all that far behind at the summit.
Nothing else comes to mind other than the kid giggl’in hysterically, latched on to your tail end. The kid wants to go faster, while I’m trying to figure out how to slow it all down.
Slow it down.
Wish I could slow it all down tonight.
Can somebody please stop time?
Just for tonight?
Tomorrow we head back up the gun barrel for Teddy’s first MRI post cancer recurrence.
He’s endured something like 10 out of 12 twelve chemos these past three months.
Not bad actually.
We’ll know in almost no-time if the path we’ve chosen actually worked.
Yet time is what I’d like to pause.
We’ve cherished many hugs and smiles these days.
Teddy just stomped down the stairs, “I packed my bags. Aren’t you proud of me? I’m ready.”
He drops his blue duffel full of whatever he thinks he’ll need up at Children’s.
Proud of you?
Proud of all three of our kids in this steep, slippery journey.
“More than you can imagine our sweet boy.”
His blue duffel sits next to the door. I wonder what’s deep down inside.
Once again, see you on the other side?
Steve, Teddy’s Dad