Monday, June 15, 2009

Riding Ahead Of The Reaper

I haven't done any work since I flew to Melbourne on Saturday. Before I left, I spent the day at my studio, drawing and adjusting lines as well as confirming major areas of colours to be painted.
My days here have been spent visiting doctors and hospitals with my father, who has been diagnosed with bone cancer. We walk slowly to appointments, no matter how far away they are. It soothes his anxiety. And mine. There are injections to be had or coarse liquids to be drunk sometimes hours before tests. Every muscle in my body aches with fear and tension: I worry about how he must feel, especially with the extent of his disease still being mapped – and the prognosis uncertain.
My father took me to see the classic, custom-detailed Harley Davidson he ordered for himself a few weeks ago. It's street-elegant and loud. He rode bikes during his youth, leaning hard and fast around corners, making sparks fly as the metal exhaust pipe ground against the road. We make jokes about how awful it would be if he'd died before riding it. We share a dark sense of humour – what can either of us do right now but try to laugh as much as possible? – but I remind him that he's not dying yet.
The Harley shop is staffed by rough-looking stereotypes of bikers. My father knows them all and introduces me to them. TV screens drop from the ceiling, playing endless tapes of bike shows and strippers. Laminated photographs of the bikers are pinned to a cork-board next to a communal coffee machine. I am drawn to the ones with children riding pillion. I know the kids are very ill – the opportunity to ride has been created for them by the Make-A-Wish Foundation – but they look happy and grubby. Their faces, painted like skulls, are smeared with melted ice-cream.
I can't help thinking how fun it must be for them to be wild and unruly, to take risks and impersonate death while protected by a burly outlaw. It's how I used to feel, as a child, with my father. But right now, it's his turn to ride pillion as we navigate a way through this uncertain time.


Kate said...

uh...Hazel. I feel sick for you. Stay strong if you can, he'll need that.
Anyone you can talk to in Melbourne this Thursday maybe?
Look after yourself also.
Take care.

Mona said...

Beautifully put...hope it goes well.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Give my love to your Dad:)

Septic Monochrome said...

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.
My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Be well Hazel, and regards to your Dad.

Anonymous said...

hard to know what to say. hope your father can recover and live a long life into very old age.

its suddenly a different world you live in when these things happen.

have you seen the Salvadore Dali exhibition in Melbourne at NGV International? I loved it although never enough paintings.

is your brother in town ?

my thoughts are with u and ur dad


karo Akpokiere said...

Take care of yourself and your Dad the best way you can.

Paul Martin said...

As I wrote about my recent brush with death, it was reassuring to discover that I felt no fear. And like Nick Cave sings, I believe that death is not the end but rather, like walking through a door you can't return from. We miss the person who has gone, but we'll meet again, if it's meant to be. We all have to die; it can't be too bad. I think it's largely fear of the unknown, because once someone walks through the door, they don't return and so we never know for sure what has become of them.

Did you receive my email, Hazel?

jennie Rosenbaum said...

my thoughts are with you and your dad, I can't imagine what it must be like to go through but if you need anything let me know :)

Adeline said...

In the middle of cramming for exams, i suddenly decided to take a break and the first link on facebook that i saw was this post.

I felt an urge to write in response, although i rarely write to strangers. But now that this window is open, im not quite sure what i wanted to say to your post. I shall sit here and wait for myself to remember what spurred me to click on "Comment"

Did you ever hear the story about King Solomon's ring?

King solomon had wanted to teach humility to one of his ministers, so the King asked him to find the object "that which will make a happy man sad, and make a sad man happy".
So the minister searches all over the world, and to cut a long story short, he finally returns to the King, and presents to him a Ring.

On the ring, the words: Gam Zeh Ya'Avor.
It translates: This too, Shall Pass.

When a sad man sees it, he will be reminded that nothing lasts, that his sorrow will also come to pass and be encouraged.
When a happy man sees it, he will remember that everything is transcient. Nothing is eternal, and to not get too proud or conceited with what he has.

What a Brilliant Story!!! I love it!

Anyway, i gotta get back to my studies now.

Adeline Loo