This past week, including a three-day stay in the St. Francis Health Care System, has been pretty miserable. I am now “recuperating at home.” Still often as sick as a dog and in considerable pain, given my lifelong Irish melancholy, naturally I have not had the brightest of outlooks in regard to my current or future health situation.
But then this morning at breakfast, which I had difficulty consuming, I suddenly realized that it was on this date, July 2, in 1992 that I was declared “cancer free” after a bout with lymphoma in which I was sick from the chemotherapy day and night for seven long months.
On that day I was so happy and relieved to be free from that misery and fear that to celebrate my victory I went right down the street and bought a brand-new, shiny-black-and-chrome Chrysler LeBaron with “all the bells and whistles.” I told the salesman that I was “trading a cancer for a Chrysler.”
I also stopped on the way home and bought a solid black business suit, the only one I now own, which I have worn in every wedding, funeral, reunion, official photo (including the avatar for this blog), etc. for all the intervening two decades. I will probably be buried in that “cancer suit,” though I hope not too soon!
For a long time I kept that car, my favorite of all the vehicles I ever owned, in pristine condition. Then after thirteen years when we had two newer and larger vehicles and no room for it in our two-car garage, I gave it to the Tulsa chapter of the American Cancer Society.
When I told the people at the cancer society the story of my “cancer car,” they got so excited they contacted the local newspapers, and my story with a photo of me standing beside the car appeared in both the Tulsa World and the Sapulpa Daily Herald.
The photo caption read: “JIMMY PEACOCK STANDS next to the Chrysler he donated to the American Cancer Society, dressed in his gear supporting his son’s military efforts in Afghanistan.” At the time Keiron was in his first deployment in Afghanistan with the 45th Infantry Brigade of the Oklahoma National Guard. Now he is in his third deployment, this time back to Afghanistan after a second deployment to Iraq.
After that article and photo appeared in the papers, I received a folding card with a copy of the photo on one side and a congratulatory note on the other which began: “You Made the News!” Ironically, the card was sent to me by a local . . . funeral home!
To remind me of that experience I have kept that card up over my computer along with an eight-by-ten glossy photo of the “cancer car”—my all-time favorite that I still love and miss. The photos of that shiny black car, one of them with me in my black cap and shirt honoring my son, along with the photo of me in my sole black suit, and the five photos of Liz Taylor and her coal-black hair, serve to remind me that as dismal as things may appear, black is not always bad.
Sometimes black is beautiful.