COMFORT

My greatest comfort is my God-given sense of humor. God made me a happy-go-lucky fellow who loves to work. Always cheerful, always joking. Some of the ladies at the packing plant get ticked, I will admit, because of my humor. But like I told the boss, I only tease the ones who show up five minutes late. The ones on time, I just welcome to work. But the stragglers have to take a hit. It’s my way of helping the boss remind the workers that five minutes early is a lot better than five minutes late, haha!

Yesterday a newlywed gal came rushing in five minutes late and I called across the packing plant, “What’s the matter, hon? Did you have trouble this morning because the bedsheets were stuck to you?” Well, they all know me, so she just waved me off and kept on running to her station. I am 82 years old so they take me with a grain of salt. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, I told them.

My greatest pleasure in life is working. It has been the light of my life, the best thing I have known. The worst thing about this cancer is that they tell me I can’t work any more, that I won’t be able to go back. Work is all I’ve known. It’s what I was born for, and it’s what I enjoy. It’s like if you told my wife she was not allowed to spend any time with her grandkids. She would go crazy. Now she’s saying just take it easy. Stay home. Visit with your family. Yes, I love them. Of course I do. But I’m used to the pace and the flow of the packing plant. I’ve been there for 40 years, since I hurt my leg in a fall off a ladder and came in from the fields, you know what I mean? I was born to work. And I want to work.

Now the doctors are showing me these images and studies and saying the cancer is pretty much all over. Cannot be operated. No use with chemo. Nodules and lesions and what have you, all over the lungs and kidneys and wherever else. They talk about comfort measures. I told them, my only comfort is work. Just send me back to work. I don’t care how much I get paid. I can work for free. If I can’t work, I can’t relax. But they said no go. My working days are over. Well, I might have to get some chickens then just so I have something to do. Because I’ve gotta stay out of the wife’s hair somehow. She isn’t gonna want to see me moping around the house day and night. I mostly worked with women so I’m used to the hens, haha.

I wish some of my pals from work would come over and cheer me up, but the hours are long and they go home tired. I wouldn’t care if they teased me. I wouldn’t care if they joked around until I laughed so hard I almost cried. I wouldn’t care if they teased me kinda rough, you know, like you do when you really care about somebody. When you trust each other like siblings. The people at the packing plant, you know, they’ve gotten to be like family. I’m gonna miss them a lot. I wonder who they’ll have to roll their eyeballs at now. Probably nobody. I wonder if they’ll miss me. Because I’m sure gonna miss them, even the grumpy ones. To my dying day.