My father’s mother died of cancer when he was fifteen. For months, my father administered his mother’s chemotherapy shots everyday. When I had cancer, I had to get a hormone shot every month for nine months as part of my treatment. My father always went with me to the oncologist. Looking in his eyes, I could tell those appointments brought back memories of his mother’s illness. It was definitely harder for him than it was for me.
Ten years after his mother’s death, my father had left college and decided to move to America to join my mother. Having only a small salary from his job at an illegal printing press producing and distributing anti-communist literature, he had trouble obtaining the funds he needed to buy a plane ticket and pay the bureaucratic fees (and possibly bribes) to obtain a passport. The only possession of any significant worth he had was a ring that had belonged to his mother. It had a delicate gold band, and a small round magenta stone. It was one of the only things he had left from his mother, but he would have to sell it.
Luckily, my mother’s mother decided to help my father out by buying the ring. He moved to America and married my mother. My maternal grandmother has worn the ring on her finger every day for the past two and a half decades, and throughout her own battle with cancer ten years ago. She is at their house every day, and I was raised mostly by her as my parents both worked long hours. My father calls her Mama.
– Maia Konarski