Monday, December 26, 2005

An unusual either/or

Yesterday after Christmas dinner my stepbrother's wife pulled me aside.

"Can I speak with you for a few minutes?"

"Of course. What's up?"

"There's something I've been wanting to talk to you about. I have cervical cancer. I've known for a while, but we don't have health insurance and medicare won't pick me up. Without treatment they're giving me three to five years."

"Oh my God, Angela."

"I know. But there's something I want to ask you. When I die, will you take care of Ozzy and Draven? I want you to be their godmother and make sure that they get a good education and are exposed to culture. You're so smart and sophisticated, and I don't want them to be brought up like rednecks. Will you please take care of them?"

Ozzy is two and a half and Draven is eight months old. They are two of the sweetest, cutest, most affectionate boys you'll ever meet. My stepbrother and Angela scrape by to make ends meet off of his income as a tattoo artist. He's incredibly talented, but they've never been good with money. Angela was raised in foster care and has had a rough life for sure - but she stretches the truth a lot, and you can never really tell what really happened and what she's just saying out of insecurity or to make herself look better.

For instance, the night before on a run to the store she had told my father that she was a child prodigy on the piano and used to play with one of the members of ZZ Top.

"Of course I'll take care of them. I'm honored that you asked me, and I don't want you to worry about a thing." We hugged.

As my shock wore off, I started to think about what had just happened. How long had she known about this? Why had my stepmother never said anything about it to me? Three to five years seems like a long life expectancy for someone who has cervical cancer that is going untreated, I had always heard that that was one of the worst kinds you could get.

As soon as they left, I questioned my stepmother.

"Oh, the cervical cancer thing. Yeah, she's been saying that she has that for the last two years. And from the research that I've done on it, someone who has it and lets it go untreated wouldn't live for more than a year. She mentioned wanting you to be the guardian about six months ago, but I figured she had forgotten about it by now. Who knows what the real truth is, but I seriously doubt that's it."

So let's sum up:

EITHER I will basically inherit two children in the next few years...

OR a pathological liar just feigned a disease and asked if I would raise her kids the way she had always wanted to be raised.

Don't ask - I can't imagine why someone would do that. If something were to really happen to her, I would gladly do all that I could to help with those great kids. But let's put it this way - I'm not exactly starting college funds and shopping for strollers just yet.


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