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Bob The Builder

By
Bob the Builder


Other people have cancer, not your family; people on the news have cancer, no one you know. It’s like we think theirs a dome around our lives shielding sickness and diseases. Newsflash, anyone can get cancer. People who have never picked up a cigarette can get cancer; people who exercise every day are vulnerable too. Even innocent, little kids who kiss their parents good-night every night can get cancer. It’s not something you get because your karma is out of line; it’s one of those things you just can’t avoid.
Our own personal nightmare began when my uncle started to experience an unpredictable, shooting pain in his liver. Reluctantly, he got this unusual symptom checked out by a doctor. Cancer didn’t even cross any of our minds; and if it did know one admitted to it. When my uncle’s test came back confirming he had liver cancer we all fell apart. The words went through me, I couldn’t grasp them. How could it happen? He wasn’t an alcoholic, so why did it happen? What could my Uncle Bob have done to deserve this horrible karma? (Remember this is my 8 year old self comprehending this) Now I know you could be a nun and get cancer.
My uncle has a wife and three kids, Krista, Andrea and Blake, all less than 16 years old. When we saw the family, they all had brave faces on. But, I could see through them like a window; inside they were falling apart. What kept them from breaking down was each other. My aunt was staying strong for her kids, Krista was holding in her feelings for Andrea and Blake, and Andrea was doing the same; Blake was too little to understand the situation. I was jealous of Blake; not knowing what was going on, not understanding what could happen, his mind is replaying LaLaLaLaLaLa all day long; worries or concerns are thrown up in the air.
The doctors decided to start chemotherapy as soon as possible, since the cancer was already far along.
My Uncle Bob always knew how to make me laugh in the worst situations. One memory I have stored in the “Good Memories File,” is whenever he called our house and I would pick up, he would say, “Hello, this is Bob the Builder.” I would giggle and say “Hi Uncle Bob.” He would laugh and say back, “How did you know?!” The last time he called seemed years ago. Ever since the devastating news our lives seemed to be in frenzy.
As weeks progressed, I noticed my uncles full head of brown hair wither away into nothing. He wore a hat like he wore underwear. But, whenever I saw him he made an exception and took it off and let me touch his bare, squishy scalp. It sent a shiver up my spine every time.
He joked and laughed like cancer wasn’t in his vocabulary. I admired him for his attitude and wondered how he really felt inside. He carried Blake, his kid, around on his shoulders just like always; but everyone couldn’t help notice the longing in his eyes to sit down and rest. That scared me.
The further time went on the worse he looked. His face looked sunk in, and almost transparent. His body looked like it was missing 20 pounds. His pants were slipping off his waits, and his shirt was covering nothing but skin and bones. The cancer spread; tumors where popping up like zits. He couldn’t give my cousin a piggy-back ride anymore. He spent a lot of his time on the couch, trying to get enough energy to have a conversation with his family. He was hard to look at. He already looked dead. When I gave him a hug he felt so frail and weak, I felt like I could crush him. We all knew he was going to die soon, but no one admitted it.
The phone ringing at 11:30 still echoes inside my head. No one calls us this late unless something bad has happened, and we all knew what happened.
You know when you get punched in the stomach and you get the wind knocked out of you? Will it was kind of like that, but a million times worse. I don’t remember if I cried or stood in a daze for awhile. I couldn’t help but think back to our phone conversations. I would never think of Bob the Builder the same every again.
The day of the wake was a day we dreaded. When we met my uncles family their, their faces looked worn and tired, (Even Blake) but at the same time relived. He had been sick for so long, he couldn’t do it anymore; he held on for one thing, and one thing only; his family.
By his casket, a bulletin board was propped up; showcasing pictures of him when the only problem he had was never remembering to zip his fly. I felt a little guilty looking at the pictures. I realized I had forgotten what my uncle had looked liked before cancer. The skinny, frail man imprinted in my mind wasn’t my uncle. Looking down into the casket was like looking at another person. My uncle was a happy, strong, easy going man; that’s the man I would remember. Cancer forced the man out of him and left behind his skin.
The tears running down my red cheeks burned. My vision was getting blurry from crying. There wasn’t a dry eye in the funeral home; even a few tears escaped down my dad’s cheek. He brushed it away and thought no one noticed. I cried so much my eyes started to hurt. Seeing the tears shed off my sister, grandma, mom and his family made me cry even harder. He was only 42 years old! He had so much going for him. Why didn’t God have made that dome to keep out cancer, then this wouldn’t happen. A man shouldn’t have to die for no reason!
Guilt came back to me like a ghost. I am so lucky to have a dad; but Krista, Andrea and Blake don’t have a dad anymore, and they never will. No emotion is suitable for the feeling they must be experiencing. I suspected during the night they woke and burst into tears. Life is like playing cards with a cheater. I hugged my aunt and watched a stray tear fall to the floor and evaporate into the carpeting.
My uncle is dead… my uncle is dead, those words I will never get used to. I decided right the and there at the funeral home, I would not remember my uncle as being sick, but as the shining, easygoing, hard working Bob the Builder that I knew.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

johno23 said...
Sept. 30, 2008 at 10:47 pm
Wow, I totally just relived my own experience with my family member haveing cancer with that story. It is so true, and written really good. Do the world a favor, and keep on writing
 
bailey158 said...
Sept. 26, 2008 at 9:12 pm
So sad... but absoutly good. Did that make sence? I also had a love one die from cancer, and understand this story. Great job, keep it up!
 
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