The Waiting Game

He is staying at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Unlike the econo-hospitals of LA County, the facilities are spacious and refined and the staff are relatively aplenty.

I took a taxi from the airport to HUP. My girl met me in the Lobby and went up to see her dad and mom. They were appreciative of my presence.

He showed me his endoscopy report. Although the photos were black and white, the tumor was apparent. He said that the color pictures showed the tumor festering with blood.

Apparently, the operating tables were booked for the whole weekend. The surgeons will not be available until Monday morning. So, he is scheduled to be in the O.R., then. We are all just waiting for now.

I made myself useful and stayed with him while my girlfriend and her mom went back home to shower and rest. It was an opportunity for him and I to chat, and we did so. Pain and suffering are lonely events, and being able to speak one’s mind can be cathartic.

His talk was not negative, though. Rather, he was a bit reminiscent. He told me how fortunate he is to be doing so well in America. One cannot expect to be making the money his family is making without a formal education – without being able to speak English fluently.

He learned his first English phrase when he was working as a gas station cashier. He had just immigrated to the States and a family friend gave him a job. Back then, the cash register was out on the islands with the gas pumps. This way, he interacted closely with the customers. He overheard a man say to his girlfriend, “Honey, I’m sorry… I can’t hear you.” After some thought, he understood its meaning and used it on a lady when the occassion came up. That woman laughed at his familiar use of “Honey”, but understood that he was just learning the language.

From a gas station clerk to an auto mechanic, he provided enough for his family. Within four years, he and his wife was able to save enough to put a down payment for a house. That is commendable considering my parents took over five years. When the the market was flooded with auto mechanics, my girlfriend’s dad went into the junk yard business. That venture failed. He lost a lot of money. At one point, he couldn’t even afford to pay for his kids’ Mandarin classes. He refinanced his house and took the cash to go back into the auto repair business.

Then he heard about the corner hoagie store business. No college degree necessary. It just required a lot of work. His family would make more than he could ever dream possible. He checked it out, consulted with his wife, and that’s when my best friend moved away from me back in high school.

My girlfriend’s parents have worked many hard years to provide for their family. For almost a decade, they have made enough to put all four of their children (and an in-law) through school (from secondary up to their graduate degrees). This is commendable work, and everyone is disheartened to see such a turn of events. It is so unfair.

There is hope. Although the tumor is malignant, it appears not to have metastasized. So, the removal of the cancerous parts (a partial or full gastrectomy) may result in a full recovery. Although we are all anxious, we are all too drained to be tense.

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