It was Army-green! It was a studio couch on which my brother and I wrestled when I was three, falling; fracturing my collar bone. Now a four-year-old when I stood on the upholstered-seat, I could now see over the backrest and out the front window of Teenie Walker’s little frame house Dad rented, located at what is now the intersection of Heritage Lane and Antelope Drive. There was a slight drizzle that day. I watched as car after car left the parking lot of the church across the street with headlights burning. It was midday! Why, Mom? She taught me about funeral processions.
At five I remember sitting in hot afternoon church meetings watching old men sweat and ladies cool themselves with fans supplied with the hymnals. The song leader was slight-framed. The way she presented herself to the congregation was impressive to my boyish mind. Her every movement drew me in and demanded my attention. I don’t know her name; she was simply, Sister Song Lady. On one particular Sunday she was lost to my little-boy world. Mom said she had died because of some horrible sounding word I couldn’t understand.
Mrs. Leland was my instructor in college algebra my junior year in high school. She was widowed. Her teaching-day did not end at 3 p.m. Every day after school she retired to her home, baked cookies and tutored those of us in her class who hadn’t yet grasped the concepts she presented. She was wonderful. We all loved her! Most boys pretended confusion for an after-school snack of cookies and milk. In the late Spring of 1967, she approached the class and shared that she had discovered a lump in her breast and would be leaving before school was out. By the same time the next year, preparing for graduation, she slipped through our fingers. I now understood the word, CANCER!
Elizabeth Adora Kidman Dahl styled my mother’s hair when I was a boy. We adored Adora. After returning to Syracuse from Chicago in 1982 she became a link to our children’s knowledge about their deceased grandmother. She was a dear friend, but like many other fondly remembered women of Syracuse, that now evil sounding word, cancer, took Adora from us in 1987.
Men, we’re not immune. My own brother, the one I wrestled on that Army-green coach, was diagnosed with malignant breast cancer.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The pink ribbons of this cause are widely recognized. On Tuesday, September 10, 2019 the City Council authorized a proclamation of both the Council and the Mayor’s Office designating, Tuesday, October 1, 2019 as Breast Cancer Awareness Day in the City of Syracuse, Utah. The admonition:
The City Council and Mayor encourage all citizens to learn about early detection practices and education resources provided to those who are affected by this disease in order to better maintain and assist our citizens in leading healthy, long lives.
May that savage word disappear from our grandchildren’s vocabulary as Polio has for some older generations.