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May

Illness

May 17

Gardening day had arrived. The day my sister and her husband, Gordon came to help me prep my garden. Allie brought Grandma’s old tiller. It’s a wonder it still worked, but it did.

Charlie and Gordon unloaded the tiller and started strategizing the best way to till the soil. Leave it to men to turn a garden into a military campaign.

I could hear my phone, playing a lively tune in the house and ran to catch it.

I recognized the voice on the other end. It was Margo. My childhood friend turned doctor.

“Jo, I need to see you right away,” her voice cracked.

“I can’t get away from the office for at least a week,” I told her.

I couldn’t just drop everything.

“It has to be Monday,” her voice rose in desperation.

“I can’t,” mine rose in irritation.

There was a loud crash outside.

“Just tell me.”

“Stop, stop,” everyone was yelling in unison.

“Margo Lynn Johnson, tell me now or I’m hanging up and you won’t see me for a month,” I demanded.

The smell of smoke hit me. Grandma’s tiller lay on the ground in two pieces.

We’re not going to be able to fix that, I thought.

“It’s cancer,” she broke with a sob. “I didn’t want to tell you. I wanted you to come in on Monday. We’d sit in my office and I’d find a way to tell you that wouldn’t hurt you. But there isn’t really any way.”

Stunned, I watched Gordon and Charlie struggling with the tiller. Allie stood nearby shouting orders.

Had she actually said cancer? No, this has to be a dream. I don’t have cancer. Cancer doesn’t run in my family.

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