February 11th, 1973: Today, we didn't do much except sit around. Every now and then I would cry. And for the first time in my life, I saw a tear in dad's eye. To make matters worse, there was some deal on t.v. about skin cancer. Which in no way relates to dad's trouble, except the word "cancer." We ate at Aunt Betty's (dad's sister) tonight. The only encouragement I got today was, when as a joke, I told myself everything would be all right if "Crocodile Rock" was on WLS. Maybe God heard me say that, because it was playing.
February 11th, 2013: I'm sure dad had a ton of weight on his shoulders. And a lot of worry on his mind. But if anything serious was being discussed in those early, waiting for news days, it was between him and mom. I was too young to be involved in detailed conversations of what was going on. I wouldn't have understood most of it, and it probably would have upset me further.
It makes me think of one of dad's favorite sayings. "Children are to be seen, and not heard." I'd disagree with him on that one now. Children have a lot to say. And some of it could be important and beneficial. There's a lot more going on in "small minds" than adults realize. It's just that kids may be reluctant to share their thoughts.
I wonder if dad was second guessing himself about his long time smoking habit? How he could have contracted the disease. What was ahead for him? Did he have hope, or did he already figure the worst? Whatever it was, he wasn't showing it.
Aunt Betty had us over for dinner every so often. She didn't live far from us. And she lived in the big white house on Washington Street that was once grandpa's. I'm proud of my middle class roots. I grew up in a two bedroom ranch, with one bathroom. But the hardware business must have been pretty good to grandpa. The house Aunt Betty occupied was pretty luxurious. Two stories, lots of rooms. Aunt Betty lived downstairs, the upstairs was rented out. It was located across the street from Illini Hospital. That wound up being convenient. Dad would spend a lot of time there in the coming weeks. And he'd eventually die there.
Aunt Betty was single. Never married. Her and dad were pretty close, but I do remember a few "ups and downs" between them. I'm not sure of their age difference. but they were different people. Dad was very smart, but the blue collar type. A high school education. Aunt Betty was the college educated, world traveler. She'd done work with the Red Cross in World War II, and served on the board at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois. She'd moved back from the east coast to help with grandpa as he got older. When he died in 1963, she took over the house. She worked at The Pike Press, the weekly paper in Pittsfield and Pike County, and had some ownership in it. She helped nurture my interest in photography. Aunt Betty was independent and strong willed. I may have inherited those traits from her. She was a fantastic cook. I missed the boat on that one.
The "Crocodile Rock" thing... I used to play a game with myself. I'd try and guess what song would playing on the radio BEFORE turning it on. WLS was a Chicago AM station. 89 on the dial. It was great, and a mega-watter. I listened to it all the time to satisfy my musical cravings. Elton John's song was a smash hit at the time. So, it wasn't that big of a reach to have it be playing when I flipped the power on. Still, it was a spirit booster at the time.
I had also made my second reference to God in my original diary. I always was, and am, spiritual. But I was not raised as a church goer. I think it bothered mom, but dad wanted to rest or play golf on Sunday mornings. Not get up and go to church. I don't think he was an atheist. But I can't say for sure. My references to God, and some of the words I chose in my original writings, may have been more for drama than anything else. And that is a bit embarrassing.