Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, August 15, 2021


 For a kid who was grounded for half of her high school career, she turned out pretty good.  Actually she's always been better than pretty good.  Jessie is a bright, smiling, loving person and we have always been proud of her.

Sometimes it hasn't been easy for her.  When she was five, Kitty noticed something stange on Jessie's head while washing her hair.  We brought her to the doctor to check it out and Kitty got a lot of  "There, There, you're just an over-reacting mother"s.  Still we pursued and got eventually a diagnosis of a very rare cancer -- one that is seldom detected before puberty and, by then, was fatal.  The biopsy they had taken would not heal and she had to have that wound cauterized once a week for five weeks; she got through this because we allowed her to wear the gaudiest outfits, costume jewely, and real make-up each time.  (Well, that, and Kitty held her very tight.)  When we brought her into the hospital for the operation, the nurses -- who had never heard of this particular type of cancer -- were expecting a weakened and sickly child, not a laughing little girl whose grandfather taught her to do wheelies down the hospital corridor in her wheel chair.  The surgery was a success, but the surgeon told us he had to go back to the books before operating.  From then on, our pediatrician exercised caution toward any bump, mole, or bruise.  He joked that Jessie's middle name was "Take It Out."  When she was twelve, the scar from the operation began to change.  Afraid that this was a recurrance, another operation was scheduled and the surgeon was surprised that this was just the old scar pushing out.  While he was telling us the good news, Jessie (who had been sedated) walked out of the operating room to say hello to us.

Then, when Jessie was fourteen, she was taking a physical for some sports thing -- I can't remember what - and we were told we should have her upper leg x-rayed.  We did and there was a nasty-looking spot on her leg.  A specialist told us it was osteosarcoma, which meant that the elg would have to amputated at the hip.  His partner, however, disagreed, and they argued over the diagnosis for more than a week, after which time we brought her into Boston Children's Hospital for a further diagnosis.  After an hour or so waiting, the head of the Oncology Department came out and his first words were, "It's not osteosarcoma."  It turned out be some type of pearlized that would not get any bigger and that was not a threat -- no treatment was necessary.  Immediately both Kitty and I began to cry.  Throughout this entire saga, Jessie showed no fear or worry.  She had that 14-year-old belief that -- even if she needed her lag amputated -- all would be well.  She remained her smiling, sweet, positive self.

A year or so after that, Kitty and I were house managers for an Actors' Equity theater and we often brought the girls and some of their friends to help out and serve as ushers.  During one intermission, a woman had a major epileptic seizure.  Jessie calmly (and immediately) arranged stanchions around the woman and kept gawkers away while the woman's caretaker tended to her.  That reaction epitomized Jessie and was just one of many reasons we are so proud of her.

I can't begin to explain how amazing she is.  Her warmth, her intelligence, her sense of humor, and her deep sense of empathy shine through.  She has hobnobbed with Presidential candidates, U.S. Senators, and renowned actors. as well as with the poverty-stricken, treating one and all with the same respect.  She has overcome the hardships of early widowhood and managed to raise two amazing daughters.  A few years ago she beat breast cancer with her typical up-beat outlook and humor.  She has earned a reputation at her work as a problem solver.  I truly cannot think of anyone who does not love and respect her.

She's our kid and we love her.


  1. Your daughter definitely has gumption. I can definitely see why you'd be proud...and given your father or father-in-law taught her to pop wheelies on her wheelchair, spirit clearly runs in the family.

    One really does need to treat all people as people.

  2. I think part of her secret is that she has amazing parents and I am sure she would agree.