The same day we returned from Gatlinburg and I found out my entire department at work had been outsourced, I got a phone call. My aunt was calling from Louisiana, asking if I knew where my mother was, as she hadn't answered her home or cell phones.
My uncle, my mother's younger brother and my godfather, had been to the doctor that day for a nagging cough. A nagging cough that ended up being cancer.
And here we are, just over two weeks later. He's had a biopsy, which resulted in his lung collapsing and a hospital stay. The cancer has spread to his brain, and other parts of his body. How many parts we don't know, as he hasn't yet been able to be transported to Baton Rouge for a PET scan and a better picture of what he's facing.
What we do know is that his future is far too short. The fact that he's still alive is a blessing; the doctors say that due to the pressure on his brain, had it gone untreated, he wouldn't have made it this far.
He's going through three rounds of radiation, and depending on how he reacts to those, may continue. If the radiation doesn't help, they're giving him a few months to live. If the radiation treatment does help, they say he could live comfortably for 18 months or so.
Once we get word from my aunt on how he's doing, my sister, J.J. and I will be traveling to Louisiana for a visit. I just wish it could be the first of many times J.J. visits his great-uncle.
If the passion for good food is genetic, my Uncle Ron passed it on to me (I also have a good dose of his pessimism). Growing up in Delaware, my siblings and I would go to Maryland to stay with Uncle Ron and his family. We'd go to the bait store, get a bunch of chicken necks, and spend the day on the dock catching blue crabs, carefully measuring them against the markings my uncle made on the cooler lid. Then, we'd head home with our catch, throw them in the steamer with some Old Bay, and spend the afternoon picking crab meat from the shells, feasting on our catch that very evening for dinner.
Now that his family is in Louisiana, the cuisine has gone from blue crab to everything Cajun. When I was last there for my cousin's wedding in May of 2005, Uncle Ron and I spent the day after the wedding at the grocery store and in the kitchen, and enjoyed a poolside meal with our extended family.
I'm hopeful that our upcoming visit will provide us with yet another good memory of family and food and fun.