His buddies called him Soupbone. Primarily, because of his size, 6’4’’ a tall gentle giant. For the past year and a half, he had been wrestling the unwanted visitor known as Cancer. No one knows how they will respond if or when they have the diagnosis, but when the dark secret is revealed, you either fall or fly.
For two years he wrestled the beast. Through back pain so debilitating it had him bed ridden, the times where he could not walk. Sleepless nights beside his beloved wife that would make the normal person shelve one’s sights of living, but his tiny wife would squeeze his hand in the middle of the night and assure him he had years to live.
Before his condition had been revealed Soupbone had been toiling over his restoration of his old race car. A ’29 Model A Roadster powered by a Y Block V8 he had massaged into a contender at the tracks in his youth. Time, that enemy of youth had drained the miles and years one ¼ mile at a time and had torn away the zip of the once powerful roadster, but Soupbone had it in his mind that he still had a winning combination and was on the rebuild when his diagnosis read red across the board.
Cancer. Malicious. The silent killer.
One night, after he was into his chemo program, he walked out to his shop and took it all in. 47c had been partially disassembled and was scattered across his work benches, the floor and upon his long stalled ’63 Galaxie project. He wondered how the hell he could ever put it back together. Time and his notion for a heavy left foot had taken a toll on his old hot rod. His lower back was starting to ache again when the door to his shop opened and his tiny wife was there.
“Bear, I know you better than anyone alive. I feel that with the cancer that is raging inside you, well, you feel hopeless.” She paused. Her brown eyes shimmered under the shop lights. A tear rolled down her left cheek. “But, you have to know, you have been through worse. You are a survivor. A fixer. You put life into things that many have abandoned. I think that if you channel that strength, that gift of reviving things many have left for dead into yourself, you will succeed.”
His lovely tiny misses walked up to him and they embraced. He tried with all of his might to hold it together, but eventually melted down in her embrace. She always had her way of giving him strength, drive to conquer what he feared.
Bear kept that a memory locked into his mind. He even wrote his wife’s words down and would look at them as he went through all of his treatments and as he would toil over 47c in his shop.
Bear lost his hair, he shed body mass and at times felt that he was not too far from cashing it all in. But even as his body battled the demon C, he would walk out to his shop every night and attempt to accomplish one more thing on the checklist. As the results began to show in his favor, so did the progress on his roadster. Bear felt, at times, he and 47c were kindred spirits, both just battling to stay alive, one helping the other to make it another day.
Bear’s numbers dropped and with his drive to end his suffering and drive to kick cancer’s ass, he did. It was not easy. But he had the passion and yearning to live just one more day. To see the moon, stars, see that amazing sunrise. To kiss his tiny wife, hear his grandchildren laugh and another thing, to drive his roadster.
April 27th the news arrived that he was cured. The cancer was gone, and he was given a good bill of health.
Dawn cracked the skies with cherry blossoms and daffodils. Honeybees were hunting for pollen and as the sun climbed the skies, the hills surrounding Buena Vista awoke and reached for the warmth. Bear walked out to his shop, climbed into 47c and strapped in. He bowed his head and smirked. It was a routine he had done since he built the old Ford decades ago and here he was as an old man doing the same routine. Cinched the belts, glanced in the rearview mirror, a few stabs of the throttle, flick of the wrist and –whirr-whirr-Whirr-VAROOM! 47c fired up and the garage was alive with the rapport of the Y Block sending her music through the short headers. A quick stab of the throttle, clutch engaged, and Bear was off.
She watched as he drove out of the garage and headed into the hills, smiling all the while.
She watched her survivor, fighter, partner drive his old roadster and as they raced out of sight, she knew he was cured.
—Dedicated to every cancer patient out there.
You can do it. Fight. Be Strong. Cancer sucks. Long live the survivors. If you love the artwork reach out to Gary Campesi.