By Tuesday night, I realized that I hadn’t consumed a full meal since lunch on Sunday. I didn’t think it was related to the radiation. I ate so much crap for over a week as I sat in bars and watched basketball. The only decent meal was almost a week ago when I had a steak dinner. I thought I was just sick of food. I also lose my appetite when I am under a lot of stress.
I didn’t eat anything more than a few triscuits on Wednesday. This morning, I threw up my breakfast. I couldn’t eat all day. The thought of food makes me sick except for one thing. If I could have anything in the world right now, I would want one plate of my dad’s fettuccine. It wasn’t a special recipe. He grabbed it off the box of fettuccine from the store. I think it was the old creamette brand based on my memory of a green box. He started making it when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. I remember bringing my friend, Lisa, home with me after a basketball game and my dad made us his fettuccine. On fettuccine nights, I would eye the amount everyone was taking because I preferred the leftovers. Greedy. As years went on, my dad continuing making it. He developed a habit of playing Puccini. He would walk around the kitchen saying that he was making fettuccine while listening to Puccini. He would say it in the goofiest voice. He usually made it on nights when my mom was out with friends because she didn’t like it. Maybe that is why we always seemed in good moods on fettuccine nights?
My last memory of eating his fettuccine was in our apartment on Roscoe Street in Chicago. It was before he was diagnosed with cancer but he was definitely sick. My mom stayed home that weekend. He came in by himself for the weekend. We were going to hear one of his favorite musicians, Bryan Bowers, in Evanston. My dad had not seen him perform live in ages. We had a special bond over his music because my dad always played one of his songs on his banjo while I sang along. We ate dinner and then went to the concert. Shortly after the performance started, my dad had to get up because he didn’t feel well. We left halfway through the performance. We had to pull over several times because he was sick. He continued to get sick once we returned to the apartment. It was scary. He had always been the healthy one. He couldn’t shake this cough. He was always a skinny guy who kept losing weight. I knew that night that something was seriously wrong with my dad. I was terrified.
My parents rented this apartment while I was finishing up my undergraduate degree at DePaul. I had the bedroom. They slept on a large futon in the living room when they would come in every weekend. It worked for us. I offered my dad my bed. He said he would feel more comfortable in the living room. Leo, our dog, woke me up that night. I tried to ignore him. He kept waking me up and walking back and forth between the living room and my bedroom. I finally got up because I had this feeling that Leo wanted me to check on my dad. I will never forget feeling complete panic that I would find my dad had passed away in the night. I gently shook him. He responded in a very annoyed voice by asking why I was waking him up. I don’t remember my response. He was too sick to drive home that Sunday. He waited another day.
I think he was officially diagnosed with lung cancer within a month of that weekend. Three months to a year with no promise that he would see summer when we were already in mid to late February. He never made his fettuccine again because it made him nauseous thinking of that weekend. Eventually he lost his appetite for other things he enjoyed. He made it a year.
I came home tonight and it was the only thing I wanted to eat. I have tried over the years to duplicate his recipe but it never comes out the same. Apparently, my sisters have also tried without any success. In my list of regrets, I wish I had paid more attention to his preparations of fettuccine and his bread making.
I opened the refrigerator. Nothing looked good. I went to sleep for two hours. I woke up without any appetite because of the nausea. I need this week to end.