Publish the Word
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Angelus -- Chapter 12


 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it. Psalms 68:11

                Chapter 12    

Her oncologist came to her room at 8:30 a.m.  About her age, he seemed an exile from the '50s with his military crew-cut and Old Spice aftershave.  His brusque speech suggested to Ava that  interpersonal hand-holding was not a virtue he valued. He sat beside her and read a computer printout through half-glasses on a bronze chain around his neck.

Well, he said at last, you want the long or short of it?

I'd like to know the details, she said.

You apparently have a liver infection, exacerbated by the chemotherapeutic agents.  Because your red cell count is low, your plasma is flooded with bilirubin faster than your liver can excrete it. Clinically, we call it hemolytic jaundice.

My liver?  Is this serious?

He shrugged.  She couldn't tell what he meant.  Yes?  No? Was she supposed to guess.

Your urinalysis and blood are inconclusive, he said.  We may need to stop your chemo cycle, but first I to run a CT scan to assess your liver, spleen, kidney, pancreas and pelvic organs.  I'd like an MRI, but that means you won't be able to eat or drink for six hours.  Is that a problem?

No, I haven't had an appetite for weeks, she said.

He nodded and said, all right.  Then let's get you started.

A few minutes later, she sat in a wheelchair, waiting to board the elevator.  David was just arriving as it opened.

Where you going, he asked.  Did you see the doctor?

I saw the doctor, she replied.  He's sending me for tests.

David stepped back onto the elevator with her.

I seem to have this jaundice, she said, examining the nearly saffron-colored skin on her arm.  The chemo caused a liver problem.  Ironic, isn't it?

I fail to see the irony, he said.  More tests.  It seems so hit and miss.  Did he say how long?

If you have to go, then go, she said.

David didn't answer.  When the elevator stopped, several people boarded as he and Ava and the male attendant pushing the wheelchair got off.  The color-coded floor lines led them along a corridor, past personnel in aquamarine fatigues and metal supply carts, then through the Nuclear Medicine waiting room into another tiled hall and finally a lab which looked like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.  David, she noticed, was wearing a new shirt.

I went by Walmart, he said.

She didn't feel ill, as she had hours earlier.  Perhaps she was running on adrenaline now, but her hands began to quaver as she transferred from the chair to a wide, motorized table.

Just relax, the technician told her.  This is painless.

I know, she said.  We've been through this before.

She had to be motionless, not even blinking for at least five seconds as the computed axial tomography beam scanned its centimetric cube of tissue.  It reassembled the biotic data as a cross-section on a monitor.  She held her breath and thought of Leonardo DaVinci's anatomy drawings when she heard the click and hum of the machine, how his detailed dissections were sketched when, in 1500?  This was post-modern art, she thought -- an instantaneous, electronically imaged landscape of her living tissue.

It was intimate, but she could also view it aesthetically as line and form and symmetry.  Her doctor would study its shadings and nuances with dispassion as a critic might, in search of the anomaly, not the artistry. 

Forty minutes later they were trundling her back to her room, David still in tow.  From his expression that he was irritated.  He hated waiting, for him wasted time, a vestige from his Depression-era parents who enshrined the work ethic.

You don't need to wait around, she told him as they neared the elevator again.  My MRI won't be until this afternoon. Go on, go home.  The doctor said I would have to stay another day for observation.

I'll stay with you.

Please, David.  I'm fine.  They both knew she wasn't being honest, but she preferred being alone to his simmering impatience.

All right.  I think I will go, he said, nodding so as to seem agreeable.

He was dutiful, she couldn't deny that, but she also knew he would be relieved to drive home, away from her and the malignancy between them.  As the elevator shut him from her sight, she knew another thing, as well: no matter what passed between them, he would never ever divorce her.


At noon, in lieu of lunch, a nurse brought her a pamphlet to read about Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  An illustration showed the cylindrical machine she would lie inside, how it would create a magnetic field to interact with her hydrogen and phosphorus nuclei.  She read the explanation several times.  Science had always perplexed her in school -- what did this mean?  Atomic nuclei in cells absorb or emit radio frequency electromagnet radiation. What language was this?  The antenna coil receives the signal emitted by the nuclei as they re-orient themselves to the original net magnetization.  What?  This signal contains the information necessary to reconstruct an image.

The entire procedure would take 60 to 90 minutes.  She understood that.  It was painless.  That too.

Later, as the machine hummed slowly over her -- it made her think of an automated car wash -- she closed her eyes and recreated her wooded glade, awash in honeyed light and birdsong.  Spring water burbling through rocks and moss.  She visualized the carpet of meadow rues with their ten thousand spiky blossoms above smatterings of wild herbs, basil, camomile, wintergreen, fairy-candles, a bed of ferns and shepherd's purse to lie upon.  Not cold metal.

She replayed her conversation with the angel.  He had a name, but couldn't tell her.  He looked human, but said he wasn't flesh and blood.  Numinous.  She had looked up the word in Webster's Collegiate and found it was from the Latin, and meant filled with the presenceof divinity.  She recalled his eyes, his skin, his resonant voice and his unexpected evanescence.  But now her doubts had germinated a conflict between logic and memory.  What was real?  Had her mind invented him?  He wasn't a projection from her psyche, was he, like  an archetype?

All the rational examination her skeptical self could focus upon him would not deny what she had seen and felt.  He existed.  How and where and why, she hadn't a clue.

After the MRI, when she was back in her room, she was finally able to order dinner.  At five she was delivered a tray with boiled potatoes, a shingle of bland beef, over-cooked, frozen carrots, a whipped of no particular flavor and a six ounce carton of skim milk.

David phoned and asked if he should drive down.  No, she told him, I'm worn out from the tests.  But the doctor said he'd go over the results with us in the morning -- about ten, if you can come.

Ten is fine, he said.

She didn't reply.  Usually she felt compelled to fill the silence.  He offered again to drive down and keep her company, but she told him thanks, but no, she wouldn't be much company.  I'm half-asleep now.  I'll see you in the morning.

            And then she released him so he could go and probably spend the evening consoling Kim, as many times as he wanted to console her.   They could console each other's brains out for all she cared.  Unimpeded, David would not have to wrestle with truth or lies, hence no guilt.

She clicked on the overhead television and let it lull her into semi-sleep.  When she awoke later into a groggy, nebulous state,  her mother, who was dressed in a nurse's olive fatigues, switched off the television and drew the shade down over the night.  Someone was crying in the distance in an androgynous voice.  She whisked it out of her mind and soon slid off to insensibility.

Awakening in unfamiliar surroundings disoriented her.  The bed felt all wrong.  And light was streaming in where there was no window, where her walk-in closet should have been.  The  acrid, antiseptic smells of industrial cleansers and a soundtrack discordant with vacuums and fans began to intrude her consciousness.  Her body felt her own, but she ached again,  as if her blood had thickened to a gluey artist's frisket, too congealed to flow.  She felt all gummed up, constipated from her irregular diet.

When breakfast came, she nibbled at a banana, had no desire for the Cream of Wheat or white toast.  The orange juice left a chemical taste.  Had she been home she would have brewed a pot of French roast, she thought, would be lounging on the patio.  A family of wood thrush had nested in their pin oak and two fledglings were about to venture forth any day now.  She had watched their  vociferous, wide-open mouths compete for millet seeds and grubs their mother had foraged.  Any day, she thought, but please, just not this day.


David breezed in at nine forty-five.  He seemed awkward greeting her, awkward with his floral bouquet and vase from the gift shop that he plunked onto the bedside table.  He asked how she had slept, had she eaten breakfast. He was freshly-shaved and showered and the part in his hair just to the left of center glistened like a well-worn path.  He wore a powder-blue shirt with a paisley tie.  A waft of his cologne made her wonder how she must look and smell.   Bedraggled?  A bitter, dead taste seemed to cling to her mouth and breath.

One of your students phoned this morning, he said.  I told her you were back in the hospital -- but nothing serious.

Who was it?

I don't remember.  A teenage girl.

What did she want?

I don't know, I'm sorry, I didn't think to ask, he said.  She told me to tell you to get well.  I said I would.  Muffy or Buffy, maybe, I don't remember.

I don't have a Muffy or Buffy, she said, frowning.  She watched him turn away and go to the window, hoist it open and lean forward against the sill.  She saw the bottom edge of his tie, not entirely covered by his collar.

Come here, she said.  Let me fix your tie in back.

He stood straight and reached back to smooth the collar himself.  He was keeping a safe distance.  Any more tests or will they let you out today? he asked.

I'm going home, I hope.

A male attendant with a diamond stud in his left ear arrived with a wheelchair.  Mrs. Hall?  I have your chariot waiting, he said.

I'd rather walk, if you don't mind, she said.

They followed him to the West Pavilion, adjacent to the hospital where many of the physicians had offices.  She felt shabby in her jogging suit, as if she had wandered in off the street where she had left her grocery cart of belongings.  Her head scarf seemed incongruous.

The oncologist met them in an outer office and took them into a windowless room that gleamed with light panels which displayed transparent images from her scans,  two walls of her, like an art exhibit, she thought.  A one- woman show.  A retrospective.  How utterly strange.

These here, the doctor said, pointing to a bank of images, are from six months ago.  Now compare them to yesterday's scans and we can see a noticeable change in several areas.

What change? David asked.

Compare this region, he said, sweeping his hand over a dark, oblong mass.  Just under your diaphragm here, your liver, your gallbladder, spleen over here, this river, see here, your hepatic duct flows down into your pancreatic duct -- and these speckles, this pigmentary cirrhosis here, are clinical manifestations of hepatic dysfunction.

And what's that mean, David asked.

The doctor swung his limpid eyes toward them.  His nose, Ava thought, appeared to have been broken at one time, the way it flared at midpoint. It's premature to say your cancer has metasticized into these areas, but the jaundice and other symptoms indicate a reaction to the chemo.

I think we'll see these lessen over time, but for now let's suspend your treatments, other than some CFS medication I'd like to place you on.

CFS?  she asked.

These are substances to stimulate production of blood cells, he said.  Colony Stimulating Factors, to help your at-risk tissue recover from the effects of chemo.

What about the cancer, David asked.  What is your prognosis? 


We're always optimistic, he said.  We'll see a turn around fairly soon.  The CFS will boost your immuno response, but long term?  He shrugged and searched the ceiling as if her future were encrypted there.  Who knows?  Each person reacts differently. Some of this is problematic, he said, laying his hand over Ava's black mass, her at-risk sausage.  You know, I have a colleague at the Mayo Clinic who is doing ground-breaking clinical trials with interferon and interleukin-2 -- these are biological response modifiers. They retard the growth rate of cancer cells.  You might consider visiting him.

I've heard of interferon, she said.  She couldn't recall exactly what she had heard.  Maybe she had heard it mentioned by some radio doctor.

It's expensive, the oncologist said.  Because it's new, most insurance companies won't cover the cost.  But I'll be candid -- if it were my wife, he said to David, I wouldn't hesitate to explore my options.  Someday radiation and traditional chemo will seem primitive compared to what's coming.

You'll give us a referral, David asked.

Of course.  Don't get me wrong -- we're an excellent hospital, but the Mayo is the Mayo.  My friend and I were fraternity brothers together.  He's a genius, truly cutting- edge.  For now, Ava, try to eat sensibly, walk for light exercise, enjoy your time together.

If only he knew, she thought as she glanced at David's polite smile in bas relief, his disarming facade.  She shook the doctor's hand and thanked him and said yes, she'd call if anything changed, though she knew the real cancer, beyond her facade and transparent in the glossy transparencies was undetectable.

They offered each other civil talk on the drive home, stopping at a salad buffet in Sturgeon Bay for her first real food in a week: crisp lettuce, spinach, cherry tomatoes, asparagus and dwarf carrots wallowed and creamy in Greek dressing.  She took a cup of tea with her to the car, relishing the countryside lush with June, all the prim Norwegian houses fresh from exile as warm air blew upon her face through the open window.

I thought he tried too hard to reassure us, David said as they neared home.  A salesman's technique, too evasive.  Did you watch his eyes?  Made me nervous.

You're reading in to what he said, she replied.

He was trying to sell us optimism, David said.  I hear it all the time. Because he was wearing a doctor's coat doesn't make him any more convincing.

Why are you saying this? she wondered aloud.

Not what he said, but how he said it.

I didn't hear anything. False hopes? Is that what you mean?

Come on -- the Mayo Clinic? David asked.

For better treatment, she said.  I'm not naive, David.  I know it's not Lourdes where I'll receive some miracle cure, but I trust his judgement.  And from what I've read, Interferon is very effective.  She watched the fields and sky flow past as green and blue streamers in the window's square frame.  Maybe she and David were stationary and the whole world was moving.  She said, If you're worried about the cost--

No, no.  I won't ever put a price tag on your health.  We may have problems in our marriage, but money is not the issue, if that's what you think.

I don't think that, she said.

If it makes you feel any better, he said, I've stopped seeing Kim.  I have no feelings for her. But she's too good a secretary to let go.

Please, she said, holding her left hand up between them to silence him.  Let's not discuss Kim.

Just thought you'd want to know, he said with the soft hurt of a child in his voice, though she knew it was David being David and just a salesman's technique.


Daybook, June 26

Watching the sky above the twilit bay candesce, 

with its hemorrhage of old sorrows, 

bruised and varicose, a rose smear, 

I understand almost nothing of this life, 

shredding the glorious with our daily banal, 

a flicker inside our eyes, a buzz and hum,  

insensate, we grow obese and sulphurous, 

we binge and purge and exchange bodily fluids, 

narcoleptic, blue with radiation, our love grows toxic, 

like the air, the water, the cobalt flame 

of sun now fallen beyond the horizon. 

I cannot feel the waves sweep through me, 

as they do, emanating from a distant constellation 

shaped like a basal cell on the skymap. 

My husband, my daughter, if 

we examine the X-rays, will we find 

we are tumorous and inoperable, a patchwork 

of scartissue? Will we find we are dying,  

like this June day and then shrug, empty-eyed, 

at our shadows on the wall and say, over and over, 

until we believe:  Oh well.

They flew into the Twin Cities the following Thursday, laid over an hour in the central concourse, then caught a Midwest Air propeller jet into Rochester.  As they banked steeply left to land, she saw the clinic on the horizon, a sprawling complex like a modern Aztec temple, glimmering huge and formidable.

They had brought only an overnight bag, the doctor asking them over the phone to fax copies of her medical records, that he probably wouldn't need to do extensive testing this trip.  They took a cab two hours early to his building and presented themselves to his appointment secretary who informed them he was running late, would they please return in three hours.

So they wandered onto the landscaped grounds, acres of clipped Bermuda grass, fairway smooth.  David said he wished he had his pitching wedge.  They sat on a marble bench donated in memory of John J. Cash, the attached plaque said.

Any relation to the country singer, David wisecracked, or just the dough he gave?  Geez --  three hours.  He took his cellular phone out of his coat pocket and dialed his office, listened for several moments, then dialed again.  Some kind of interference, he said, snapping it closed.

I'm going to find a newsstand, she said.  I should have brought a paperback.  I should have expected this.  You never get in on time.

Wake me in an hour, David said, slumping against the bench's backrest.  All this waiting wears me out.

At precisely 2 p.m. they were called into Dr. Lin's fourth-floor office.  He rose to greet them from behind a polished teakwood desk.  He was Asian-American, wiry, with owlish, wire- rimmed glasses that seemed to magnify his eyes.  Floor to ceiling windows opened on a diorama of sky and trees, church spires and rooftops and streets as straight as steel needles.

Sorry to keep you waiting, he said apologetically.  Some days start out behind and just get worse.  You flew in this morning?

Yes, from Wisconsin, David said.  We appreciate your seeing us and on short notice.  I guess we owe your fraternity brother for intervening.

With an airy wave of his hand he said, we do each other favors, a group of us from medical school.  We network.  But you didn't come to talk about fraternity days. One of my assistants prepared a report, if you will give me just a minute.  He opened a manila file folder and skimmed the contents of several pages, then glanced up at Ava and asked how she was feeling.

Better, no nausea for a while.  But I'm lethargic, tired all the time, she said.

Any bleeding?

No, she answered.

He leaned back in his chair and interlaced his fingers behind his head.  She noticed his gold, monogrammed cufflinks.  He said, every cancer treatment is experimental.  We can predict with statistical accuracy what may occur if we administer radiation or multimodality drugs or recombinant DNA gene therapy.  Right now I'm working on the P-53 gene which I inject with a cold virus -- it attacks and destroys renegade cells.  We have lots of options.  But every person is unique.  We make no promises, he said.  But from your profile, I think you would be an excellent candidate for our program.

I'm glad to hear that, she said, exhaling and relaxing her hands which had gripped the chair reflexively.

There appear to be signs of lymphoma, a possible metastasis to the liver, maybe pancreas.  But all this is very early, very, very early, he said, tapping the folder with his index finger. Nothing for alarm at this time.

We caught it early, David interjected.

Dr. Lin shifted his gaze to David, then nodded as if agreeing.  I think so, he said.  Let us draw some blood today for our laboratory.  Specifically, we will isolate TIL, the immune cell known as the tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte.  We then microscopically insert a gene that boosts the cells' ability to produce a natural antigen, say alpha interferon linked to a radioactive substance to attack the tumorous cells.  In a couple weeks you come back, we re-inject your altered cells and then monitor progress.  WE can repeat the procedure a couple times, if necessary.  You won't suffer side-effects like the chemo.

That's it? she asked.

That's it, he said, rising to escort them to the door.  He told his secretary to give them directions to the lab and that she should fax the work order ahead so they wouldn't have to wait.

Ava and David didn't speak as they rode down in the elevator, but relief was already surging through her, relief and hope that she could soon put this ordeals behind her.  She had invested too much of herself into agonizing over the what ifs of her life.  She felt emptied out and diminished, a woman's fate, she had once believed, but now she knew her despair was hers and no one elses'.

For years she had wanted to believe she could will Julie into becoming the perfect daughter if she just willed hard enough.  How futile!   Julie was Julie, a mystery to her.  And was David's infidelity, she thought, the only carcinoma at the core of their unhappiness?  She felt sick to her stomach to think of him being intimate with other women, naked and passionate, cooing in some woman's ear.  At times she even felt that some ravenous entity inhabited the space between she and her husband, something which desperately wanted to devour her.  But now she was fighting the fight of her life.  Maybe that's the assurance the angel meant.


When they got off the elevator after leaving the lab, she had to grasp David's arm to brace herself against the blinding sunlight.  I'll be all right, she said.  I need a minute.  Blood and needles always make me queasy.

Take your time, he said, as he steered her toward a bench.  We can catch a later plane.  We can even spend the night if you need to.

She sucked in several deep breaths and let the air gargle about in her lungs before she exhaled.  I didn't realize how over-wrought I was, she said.  This whole cancer thing has made me a little crazy.  She began to feel an emotional release that coincided with her exhalations.  The deep sighs perceptibly became involuntary sobs which shook her body, no matter how hard she fought to control them.  She wished for invisibility as her eyes fogged with tears.

Let it go, David said, wrapping his arm around her shoulders.  You don't always have to be strong and brave.

I do, she thought.  I do have to be strong, but her mouth could not form the words.


They spent the night at a Ramada Inn near the twin cities airport, ate breakfast at the motel restaurant, and caught a shuttle back to the terminal at 8:45.  They arrived in Green Bay at 11:00, after a brief layover in Madison and then they drove home without stopping.

Julie's red Mustang was in the driveway.    I've got to run to the office, David said.  Tell Julie I'll see her later.

What are you doing home? she said to her daughter who was making a club sandwich in the kitchen.

I came to see you, Julie said.  She bit off the end of a dill spear.  How'd it go?  Your normal color's back.

It went better than I had hoped.  I'm off the chemo.  The doctor at the Mayo said I was a good candidate for their program.

What kind of program? Julie asked.

Ava poured a glass of water and sat on a kitchen stool  next to Julie.  She said, an innovative gene therapy.  They took some blood to which they will add a cancer killing gene, something radioactive.  In a couple weeks they inject it back into my system.  No side effects, they said.

Will your hair grow back?


And no more cancer? Julie asked.

I hope.  It's experimental, they said, but I'm hopeful.  Let's think positive.

I will, if you will, Julie said.  Like Tinker Bell in Peter Pan.  Julie dragged her napkin over a smear of mayonnaise on her upper lip.  Remember?  Think positive thoughts to bring poor poisoned Tinker Bell back to life?  You read it to me when I was nine or ten.  I loved that book.

You're right.  I had forgotten.  Each night before bed we read a chapter.

You did different voices, Julie said with exuberance.  Wendy was sweet and innocent and Peter kind of moody, and Captain Hook? -- your Captain Hook was pretty lame.  Remember your sound effects?  Tick Tock.  Tick Tock.  Remember?

I think you helped me out.  And you cried at the end when Peter stayed in Never-Never-Never Land.

He should have married Wendy.  Imagine their children. But that would have been a different story, Julie said.  She got up, took a can of soda from the refrigerator and went to the chips, cracker and pretzel cupboard.  No potato chips?

I'm sorry, no, with you away I haven't kept the pantry very well stocked.  I can run to the store later.  How long do you plan to stay?

Julie stared at her mother quizzically.  Didn't Dad tell you?

Tell me what?

Julie settled back in front of her sandwich and said, I thought you knew.  He told me to come home for the summer, that your were really sick, you know, the Mayo Clinic and everything.  He said I had better spend time with you now because nobody knew how long.

How long?  He said that?  What about Costa Rica?

Julie's eyes drifted out of focus for several moments until she said, I cancelled.  He told me I could go next summer, but I might not have my mother around forever.  He made it sound serious.

I'm not at death's door, Ava said.  He should have consulted me before he decided all this.

You know Dad, she said.

She and David had essentially avoided each other the past couple weeks, Ava realized.  And now, as she considered what Julie had told her, David's logic made perfect sense.  If he exaggerated her condition to Julie, he wouldn't have to battle his daughter anymore about the expensive trip.  And Julie would be the buffer between she and David.  I'm sorry, Julie, she said.  I know how much you had wanted to go to Costa Rica.

Oh well, Julie said.  Seeing you recover is more important.

Ava felt emotion rush to her throat and clog her response.  She became teary-eyed again, turning her head so Julie wouldn't see her face.  She felt victimized by these unexpected feelings, seizing her all at once, making her feel volatile and not herself at all.  She sighed to calm herself.  She pretended she had something in her eye and dabbing the corner with a paper napkin.  The moment passed.  Julie went to her bedroom to call a friend.  Ava went to her room.  She showered and lay down for a couple minutes, but awoke hours later.

David and Julie were in the family room watching television  together.  I haven't seen this in a while, she said.

What? Julie asked.  Us watching TV?

Like a real family, Ava said, standing in the doorway as if to memorize the expressions on her husband and daughter's faces, of astonishment, she thought, David in his recliner, staring at her, Julie sprawled across an over-sized pillow on the floor, her upturned face a reflection of herself in the eyes and cheekbones, the three of them suspended, as it were, in the flickering glow of the television.  It was for her a moment of grace, so simple and familiar.  She hesitated, then asked if Julie would turn down the television.

I've been thinking about Julie missing her Costa Rica trip, she said, shifting her eyes between  Julie and then David.

Julie began to interrupt.  Oh Mom.

Let me finish, Ava said.  I feel responsible.  You chose not to go because of me, because of my illness.  That means a lot. She began to choke up, but she paused and held up her hand like a comma between her thoughts, testing the words she had rehearsed in her mind earlier.  Julie, she continued, that was unselfish of you.  It does mean a lot to me.  She sighed.  I have a proposal.  I've given a lot of thought to this, so please, let me finish.  She went on, her voice steady.  I feel much better and in a couple weeks, after treatment back at the Mayo, I would like to take a trip, just the two of us, mother and daughter.  Something we haven't done in a long time.  Something to cherish.

I think that's a wonderful idea, David said.

She nodded, feeling regenerated at the very thought of what she was about to say.  So, after careful thought, she went on, I'd like Julie to practice her Spanish by accompanying me to Paraguay.  To visit my brother.

            Really? Julie said, sitting up to her knees.  Paraguay?

Are you up to a trip like that? David asked.

I will be, with Julie's help.  More than anything, I want to see my brother.  I haven't seen him in nearly 50 years.  And I want to show Julie where I grew up.  I feel a deep longing to renew this connection with my past.  All these morbid thoughts of dying have made me realize I want to go back.  You're welcome to come too, David.  But I feel this would be an opportunity for Julie and I.

Julie crawled to her father's chair and began to beseech him, kissing his hand like a courtier..

Fine, okay, yes, he said.  Go.  Go to Paraguay.

I can get independent study credit, Julie said.

I don't know why I feel compelled to go after all these years, Ava said.  But I do.  I want to find the childhood I've almost forgotten.  I want to make peace with the memory of my father. Last week I read in the Rubaiyat, "the leaves of life keep falling, one by one."  If I don't go now, I'm afraid I never will. Does that make sense?

Yes, I guess, David said.  If you feel up to travelling, go and find what you need to find.