October 31, 2001|
“From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.
And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.”
2 Kings 2:23-25
Relevance you may be asking? Yes, it is that time of year again, when the chemotherapy drugs strike fiercely, decimating the thick and luscious mane of Frederick Arthur Canning III. The above passage so wonderfully illusrates what could happen if you happen to jeer one of us baldfolk. Sure, I used to make fun of my dad when I was kid. Now look what happened to me. 🙂 You too beware…
Anyway, it always takes a little getting used to. There exists a steep learning curve getting acclimated to any new thing, losing my hair holds no difference. It took a day to adapt, back to wearing hats again (it’s freezing up there!), but now, eh, it’s old hat, excuse the pun. 😉
So I was driving to New York City last week along I-80 in Pennsylvania. Cruise control set on 67 mph, minding my own business. To occupy myself on the drive, I typically listen to old sermon tapes from my church in NYC (www.redeemer.com). Because I have a CD player in my car, I typically just stick on my headphones and listen through my walkman. So there I am listening to the marriage series, supposedly Dr. Keller’s best series ever (btw, not that I am looking to get married or anything close to the sort, but you always want to be prepared…), when a Pennsylvania highway patrol car zooms by me in the left hand lane at like 80 mph. All of sudden he slams on his brakes, pulls up behind me in the right lane and turns his flashers on. I have no idea what is going on, I have never been pulled over before, I mean I have never, eh..err…let’s just say I have never got a ticket before, OK?
He casually struts up to my car and informs me that I can’t wear headphones and drive, it’s against the law. I had no clue! I have never been pulled over before for this on my 8000 trips to NYC! I have never heard of anyone getting busted for this violation before. I tell him I honestly didn’t know. He goes back to his car for what seemed like an eternity, and comes back with a ticket! Now I don’t want to undermine or badmouth authority and/or the government, but I will say this- there are far worse things going on on Pennsylvania’s I-80. I know, I have driven the whole length of it about 10 times in the past three months. To bust me for wearing headphones, seems quite trite…but anyway, I learned my lesson. The next exit I found a Wal-Mart and bought a mini-tape player with speakers. The first guy ever busted for wearing headphones while listening to a sermon on marriage. Dr. Keller, if you read this, know that I will and have violated the law to listen to your tapes.
Last Friday I finally got a chance to visit downtown Manhattan and see my old stomping grounds. The site was amazing. The smell of smoke still permeated the air at Ground Zero and the surrounding radius. Tourists packed the area around Broadway, hoping to get a closer glimpse of the action. Everyone was taking pictures. Vendors on the sidewalk selling American flags, NYPD and FDNY hats, and pictures of the World Trade Center. It was somewhat reassuring to see things back to normal, at least according to those purveyonrs of cheap wares.
When I first rose above ground off the subway, I could still see the mall portion, I think that was WTC building # 5, still standing. Charred, but still standing. For the next five blocks, heading down Broadway, all I could see was rubble and metal piled high about two blocks from where I was standing. Because of the blockades, I could only go as far as Broadway. My heart dropped as I walked along that corridor. TV does not accurately potray the destruction. This is 5 blocks by 2 blocks of destruction. That is a huge huge piece of land. All decimated. Unbelievable.
I had another heart dropping moment on Sunday. My youngest brother Billy invited me to see U2 with him at the Meadowlands that night. As U2 sang “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” someone lifted an American flag towards Bono. He lifted it and wrapped it around him, as the crowd went bonzo, shouting “USA, USA!” to the rhythm of the song. It was electrifying. Then at their final encore, a giant screen appeared behind the band, 5 feet high by 40 feet long. As the band played “Walk On”, a touching song by itself, the names of all of those who had died in the plane crashes, the FDNY and NYPD scrolled on the screen. It was amazingly touching, especially seeing this in New York City. It was definitely the best concert I have ever seen. My heart may have dropped, but my spirits were lifted.
And lastly, I am doing well. I crashed hard yesterday, taking a four hour nap. All of the driving, the lack of sleep from goofing off on the retreat over the weekend, the emotions, all caught up with me. I was able to hike over 2 miles on Saturday, the first time I have done any physical activity since March. Hardly any leg pain. Sleep patterns are crazy, but manageable because of not having to work. Chemo again this Thursday, thankfully in Youngstown. Thanks for the prayers and support. Pictures from Ground Zero and the weekend will be up soon.