Cancer & Food

(Dictated by Dru to Art)


I like to think that Art and I have had an as-close-as-it-comes to a Perfect Marriage. But that’s not quite true. There are three things I can think of that made it less-than-perfect.


First, the clothes. I have not seen my husband in a good-looking suit since the late 1970s— and it wasn’t a very nice suit then. Since that time, when Anglos insist on wearing suits for formal occasions, he wears his kilts. And although he looks like Sean Connery in the Highlands, I’d like him to look a little more James Bond. (I should say that I bought him those kilts in Edinburgh, Scotland, from the proceeds of my first published novel, THE FROST & THE FLAME, currently available in the archives of used-book stores.


Second, the games. Is it really too much to ask that a man play scrabble with you more than once every twenty years? Couldn’t we keep a running tab, as so many married couples do, on a lifelong game of gin rummy? Does the root of this lie in the humiliation he suffered when our son Rocky was three years old and beat him in Parcheesi? Or is it deeper in his Scottish genes, in which every contest he participates in must result in his killing or being killed? Whatever the origin, nothing has ever persuaded him to play games with me for fun.


Finally, food. I have two sons who cook with me, who can put me to shame with their tasty pastries and Anglo-Asian concoctions. Meanwhile my husband believes that the kitchen is where he goes to have a martini and watch someone else prepare dinner— which he likes served promptly. He’s never learned to chop vegetables properly (last week he sliced his thumb instead of the last piece of a tomato). He once seasoned a cup of cocoa with a sprinkle of thyme, saying “I thought it would be interesting.”


Okay, now I’ll lay off him. My point is that cancer has a way of reversing roles. He has become the cook and I am now the eater. But with a difference. Whereas he was always grateful for the meals I prepared— and frequently called me his “brilliant gourmet”— I turn down half of what he places before me. It’s hard for him not to take this personally, I know. But cancer is the biggest all-time spoiler: Its single goal is to ruin life’s pleasures on the way to ending life itself.


This morning, after an unsatisfying night of coughing and painful sleep, I awoke to find beside me a breakfast tray of: freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee, prunes, tapioca pudding, and a soft-boiled egg with sliced strips of tomato and buttered toast, a recipe our family has always called “egg and soldiers.” Smiling down at me was also a red geranium blossom in a small blue vase. Obviously he’d put this meal together with all the love with which I’d prepared a hundred meals for him. But I couldn’t touch it; the thought of putting food in my mouth repulsed me. I had to turn away.


This is cruel stuff indeed.


Filed under Family & Friends, Life Matters | Tags: , , ,

12 Responses to “Cancer & Food”

  1. carol brennan says:

    Oh Dru…irony (which we savor when all’s going fine) cuts so deep when the time is tough. And as you’ve pointed out, cancer is a thug of a dictator. Seeing Art through your eyes makes me love this Kiltman, whom I don’t really know. Keep your dukes up as best you can and keep on keeping on…with much love from Bob and me in NYC

  2. Justin Brooks says:

    Sounds pretty close to perfect and you bought him the kilts! Heidi has similar complaints about me. I’ll try and do better :o)

  3. Elizabeth Katz says:

    What a treasure you and Art found in each other. The breakfast sounds delightful, but hurtful pride aside, I believe Art understands. Perhaps when a bit of your appetite returns, Art, the NEW culinary genius will amaze you again!
    Praying for strength and wellness for you. ~~~
    Liz Katz
    Kappa Alpha Theta
    Tampa Kite Tales

  4. Lisa Wood says:

    Every one of your posts is such as treasure. So sad, and yet so sweet.

  5. Marivi Blanco says:

    Dearest Dru, I thought of you at a barbecue the other day. I was unskewering roasted Persian chicken kebabs when the ruffled hem of my dress caught fire from the votive candles we’d set out to deter flies. First thing that came to mind as we beat off the flames was “Here’s that thin red line Dru told us about…now to find a story that suits it!”

  6. Elizabeth McBee says:

    Mrs. C.
    You have been on my mind and in my prayers always. I love your posts; and after reading one….I so look forward to the next. You are truly a gifted writer and I find it so cool that my 4th and 5th grade Science and Art teacher is a published writer. As written in one of the comments above; every one of your posts is a treasure. Elizabeth

  7. Gayle Lund says:

    Dear Drusilla, I love your posts; they are so honest and poignant. My prayer for you is that you stay strong and beat this evil disease. I am so glad you have such a supportive, loving husband and family; and I know you know how many fans love you and are praying for you. I will always remember your visit to our Tampa Kite Tales Book Club at my home; We all were so privileged to meet you and share that time with you. Lots of love, Gayle Lund, Tampa, Florida.

  8. Dylan Yates says:

    Dru, I had no idea you were once a Science and Art teacher, but I’m not surprised. You have that rare balance of hybrid brain. It pours from the pages of your books and peppers your conversation and posts.
    How lovely that your former students are remembering and celebrating you. This former student is doing the same. Thank you. Sending love, strength and appetite-building thoughts, Dylan

  9. Lois Joy Hofmann says:

    Dru, I just finished “When She Came Home.” Thank you. I love your heart-felt posts, thank you again. I’m praying for you. Sending love your way as well. Lois Joy

  10. Allison Harnden says:

    Truth and beauty, the most heart wrenching combination and the most difficult for a writer to capture. You’re nailing it through this ordeal, though. Love, love love you!- AL

  11. Roger Butler says:

    All right, make me cry. I would rather be reduced to tears than to miss what you have to say.

  12. David Kirschner says:

    Your writing is such a gift and I thank you for sharing it. I’ll never forget three first time I saw Prof Campbell in a kilt, but I never knew that all started with you. I think he even wore one when the two of you were at Julianna and mine’s wedding! We are both keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.