Sunday, February 17, 2013

brian's song

depending on your age, and mine is 50, like i said, you may or may not remember the movie 'brian's song.'

it was the true story of the unique and solid friendship between brian piccolo, and gayle sayers, football players for the chicago bears.

brian got cancer, and gayle stuck by him til the bitter end.
at that point in my ten year old life, it was the saddest damn movie i'd ever seen.

but somehow, and call me crazy here, (it's okay, it's something i hear on occasion,) i have the very distinct memory of making a pact with myself during that movie.

i said to my ten year old self, 'if i ever get cancer, i'm going to be very brave, just like brian.'

who does that?


who knows why?

i always remembered it, even mentioned it to the godfather over the years, he remembered the movie too, since we're only a few months apart in age.

i'd say to him, out of the blue, just so you know, if i ever get cancer, i'm going to be just like brian piccolo. 

he'd say katy.  why do you think of these things?

and i'd say i'm just telling you, if it ever happens, i'm going to be just like him.  

he'd say whatever.


the years went by.

the godfather never thought i'd actually get cancer, who knows why. it can happen to anyone, anytime, as we know.  truly though,  i never thought i'd get it either, so who can say why that channeling brian thing stuck with me.

but it did.

~ if the hands of time, were hands that i could hold.....~

(that was the theme song, trust me, i should know)

during all the testing, the godfather was pretty steadfast in his belief that all tests would return with benign findings.  he never really imagined there would ever be a cancer outcome.

i'd say you know that's what they're looking for.

he'd say yeah.  but it's not cancer.

he was very rock steady re that.

despite this, i knew it was only a matter of time before i'd turn into brian.

i just knew it, i still had my ten year old self inside.

so when the day came, the confirmation, i was out in the truck. i'd just dropped one of our daughter's off at a bud's house in the neighborhood, and the doctor called.

i said to myself, here it is.

so i pulled over to the side of the road.

i'm not saying i was ho hum about it, but there was a way i already knew.

and i was right. just like i was ten again.

he was hemming and hawing.  this was the doctor before dr. bear.
he didn't think he'd find cancer either.

but i knew he would.

and he did.

but he was having trouble telling me, i think maybe bc he thought it'd be something else.

i said so is it cancer?

he said yes.  

yes it is.  and we'll have to go in again bc there's more.

i said ok.

but he didn't, cuz we hoofed it to massey after that.

anyway, i knew the godfather was on his way home.  it was late friday afternoon.  it was good to know, and not have to go through another weekend of wondering.

i called him and asked, where are you?  

he said i'm on my way home.

i said ok.  i'll talk to you soon.

but he knew.

he said no.  tell me now.

i said i'll talk to you when you get home.

he said no.  tell me now.

so i had to. 

he said is it cancer? 

i said yeah.


i told our 2nd oldest daughter, down in her bedroom, i didn't hear the godfather come in the house, but he came and found us, as i was hugging gracie.

i looked at him to show him, it'll be okay.

i was already being brian about it.

but see, he was gayle remember.  his face crumpled then in a way i'd never seen.

this makes me sad, even remembering it here.


i needed a minute right there.

for a while, i was going along, la la la.  

cooking, laundry, etc.

he said no katy.  you're sick.

i said i'm not sick.  i feel fine.

he said you have cancer.  you're sick.

but the thing is, you feel the same.

(before treatment at least)

but there is a way that some people look at you differently.

that's no fun.

i realized hey.

i might be a rookie, but the godfather is the one who needs to update his cancer playbook.

i realized his playbook was dated circa 1972-ish.

once i realized he was treating me like a china doll, i told him that.  

i said this isn't brian's song you know.

i'm not really brian, i'm not going to die, and you're not gayle.


he said whatever.

but eventually, once we went to the bear, he got it.

he got a whole new, new millennium playbook.

so what we are now, is a modern day brian and gayle.

he is becoming so accustomed to the modern day outcomes re treatment, that i'm back to carrying my own laundry basket up and down the stairs.

which makes me smile.

but sssshhhh.  don't tell him.

bc help with the laundry can never hurt a girl, right?

xx katy


  1. Katy, thank you for the privilege of reading your blog which I just recently discovered. You are a talented writer, and succeed in demonstrating both humor and compassion.

  2. Love it. You analogies, I mean. And I had a crush on the young James Caan in this movie. (& the theme song is yet another soundbite on my phone).


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virginia, United States