They started filming on our short street last Wednesday, a made for CTV movie, Sticks and Stones. Thursday afternoon we were to see the surgeon to find out the results of the bronchoscope. Thursday was also Bill’s 75th birthday. That morning I broke down briefly and said I couldn’t bear the wait. We looked up the street and saw a lot of commotion, walked up to see what was going on, saw our neighbors sitting on their front stoop, sat with them for an hour, chatting amiably, watching the filming action across the street. One of the crew came and sat with us a while and the location director came too to talk.
When we got back home, our writers group came to sing Happy Birthday to Bill, bearing a rose and a gift certificate from the local bookstore. Then another neighbor came to say happy birthday, bearing chocolates. The location director came to tell us the road hockey game was going to be played in front of our house, filming our house, because our lawn was the only one on the street that is still brown and the action was supposed to be taking place in March.
All of this distraction made the wait bearable. And, miracle of miracles, the news the doctor delivered was good, the best we could have hoped for. Bill’s cancer, as far as can be determined, has not spread, is operable, the size of a marble. He is in good enough condition to undergo surgery. “Surgery is the only chance you have to be around next year.” They will take the top left lobe out. “So, should I go ahead and book the surgery?” “I don’t have much choice, do I.” “No, you don’t.”
When we got home our front yard was teeming with people and equipment, and about twenty little boys with hockey sticks were sitting on the curb. I sent out e-mails with our news, talked to our kids, and then we sat in the living room watching the action through our picture window. Our sons of course are highly amused that just where they played road hockey will be on TV. Bill wrote this poem about 30 years ago.
The roadhockey game out under my window
Is like the Chinese soup
With grandfather cabbages thrown in
It simmers through the years
As the bulbs in the streetlamps
Have been replaced a hundred times since it began
Enter the fray my little son
Little onion into the stew
The original ingredients have long since been devoured
But they have left their legacy:
The game itself, a roiling flowing two-sided thing
And a meaningless astronomical score.