Okay, so life events can change your world in a matter of seconds.
A car crashes and you can lose a car, a leg, and a license. Or, someone dies, and you end up homeless. Or, you get a letter from a college that offers you a free ride, and suddenly you are on your way to being the first graduate in your family. Or, you have a kid, or you poke an eye out with that thing, or you dye your hair blonde, or whatever.
This week, my chinchilla had her kit and I named her Koala, because she looked like the little clip-on things you had on your coats when you were a kid in the 80's. She's fuzzy, sweet, and loves to be held. She's much like her mom that way. I get a kick out of her, because at three inches, she's just the cutest thing I've seen in a long time. In a day we get about 18 degus. This will change our house a bit. We haven't had that many flying squirrel fuzzies ever. I'll change my view of cute. But I love them.
The same day, I found out my Aunt Jeannie has stage 4 cancer in her lungs and lymphoma. She's not just an aunt. She's my dad's aunt. This means she's my dad's mom's sister. She's also about 2-3 years older than my dad. His other aunt, Barbara, died a couple of years ago, and raised him. She was about twenty years older than him. His mom died recently, too. She barely raised him. She was the vain sister. She was not very attached to any of her children. She had them with different men. Dad was the first "bastard".
He never met his father. Only fifteen years ago or so did we learn his name, Morrison. That explained my father's middle name Maurice. He was an East Boston cop. But other than that, we knew nothing of him, but an obituary that rest in a drawer of my grandmother's bureau after her death. Jeannie has always been like a sister to my dad because his brothers and sisters- younger- seem so distant. So much so, that I think I've only met them on one or two occasions, and his youngest sister, is six months older than I am. She and I were in the same school. That was strange. We did know each other a bit, but we were never close.
I grew up knowing Jeannie's kids. They were my cousins. They were my friends. They were the ones I was closest to, as were Barbara's kids. When I think of cousins, they are the ones I think of, and when I think of family, Jeannie and Barbara are always the first faces in my head. Barbara is gone. Jeannie has cancer. Life changed in a moment. Just like that. So what can I do? I'm not a person who just let's things happen. I'm a do-er. I'm a participant in life. I am action verb, not a passive verb.
Passively, I was a comic. An ex comic. A former comedian. But, Jeannie needed to laugh, and the one thing I know of Jeannie is her laughter. I can't think of Jeannie NOT laughing about something. She was a waitress her entire life. She lived with my great grandmother for the later years of Nana B's life. Nana lived to be 101. When she was 100, Jeannie worked to get about 200 family members to Boston for a family reunion. It was pretty surreal. A room was filled with people no taller than 5 foot 8 inches, with the same shaped face, chin, nose-- all resembling this woman- black, asian, white- we're all mixed up. But we all had that face. Just a bunch of goombahs visiting Nana B. It was pretty amazing. Jeannie did that for her. And we all loved her for that.
Carl was Jeannie's husband for long time, but not her first. Paul was her first, but not her best. Carl was her best, but he was a goofball. I was at their wedding. It was a blast. They had fun with each other. He made her laugh. That showed. She loved Elvis, and he did an Elvis impersonation that was just awful, but he made her laugh. I don't know if they split up, or not, but he ended up with her in the end, because he had brain cancer. She took care of him. She nursed him, and stayed with him while he was going through chemo, and stayed with him while he was sick, and when he was nothing but skin and bones. She was with him when he died. She loved him. She still laughs that until the day he died he thought he was a ladies man with a bald head, and boney chemo body!
Four days after she had a biopsy last week, she went to work at Bickfords. She's been waitressing forever. If she didn't work, she'd be bored. She has to work. It's the world. If you don't work, you are on your ass, and homeless. She's about to go through chemo, and radiation. NEVER does she ask for a handout. NEVER does she ask for help. Instead she raised six kids. She cared for her mother until she died. She cared for her husband until he dies. She watched her sisters go, and her brother Georgie die years before. Her ex Paul, is long gone, of a heart attack or something about 20 years ago. It's just my dad, her kids, my sister and me, and her grandkids. We're her family. We have to help, we have to, because she's not asking us to.
So, I'm a comedian. I write. Alot. I write to a fault. I signed my contract to my publisher this week. Life changing. I contacted the Dana Farber institute where they are treating Jeanne, and asked them, "What do I need to do to get your backing for a benefit for my aunt?" And then I put it into motion. I put the message out to my past, and to Boston area comics, and I got positive responses from some wonderfully talented human beings.
Some of my favorite comedians on the planet are helping out. This October, Ian Harvie- one of the funniest human beings on earth is helping out. Chance Langton- The guy who is probably the first headline comedian I had ever seen on a Boston stage is going to help out. Jim Lauletta- a wild man, funnier than hell...is going to help out. Shane Mauss- the guy whose delivery is masterful is helping out. Jon Lincoln is helping. Courtney Cronin helped out. Rick Jenkins from the Comedy Studio helped out. Dennis Blair helped out. More people are offering, and it's astounding. And, I'll be emceeing. Yes, I'm dusting off the comedy chops. The new monologues are written. (egads, I've been writing stand-up again!)
There are others who are offering assistance. The MySpace page is DieLaughingBenefit. The Email address is JimmyFund@cathejones.com
I'll post the dates as I have them. More info will post on the Benefit MySpace page. Thanks so much.... Hopefully Jeannie will have some cash for the treatments and then we'll have her around for years to come, so then every year this benefit will take place in her HONOR, and not in her memory. The Jimmy Fund programs will support families going through cancer, issues facing cancer treatments, and cancer related care. The Dana Farber Institute is world renown for their work in this area.