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"Going to Rochester." - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
"Going to Rochester."
Words are a funny way of talking.

I go to Rochester just about every week- sometimes twice, rarely more.  It gets to be more of a drag as the ol' bod isn't what it used to be and the resulting sleep is even less of its former self.  But it's no more than a chore- occasionally a joy, and when I'm a little lucky somewhere in between.

What I've learned, from having family both east and south of that city, is that to those on even the far outskirts, "going to Rochester" means something far worse than an inconvenience.  If you're in Lyons or Palmyra, Binghamton or Elmira, it's where you go if you've got really bad things going on- usually, but not exclusively, cancer.

I've sat in some outlying churches on a few Sunday mornings- usually visiting former ministers I keep/kept in touch with.  During their prayer concerns, more than once I would hear the solemn tones about Edith, or Bill, or some other long-time member "going to Rochester"- and everybody would lower their heads.

Almost always, it means Strong- the U of R's teaching hospital and home of that region's largest cancer center. 

("Going to Rochester" lacks that meaning to the west where we are, because we have Roswell Park- an even more famous place for the treatment and battling of cancer. Although sadly, during Betty's recent spins through hospitalization (fortunately noncarcinogenic so far), we heard from more than one person that Roswell frequently regards its elderly patients as guinea pigs for experimental treatments, and delays or declines the more tested and/or aggressive protocols reserved for the younger and healthier.)

I bring this up today because a friend from Buffalo is spending a lot of her time these days at Strong. Not for herself, but for her mom, who is from Elmira, which is smack-dab in the Southern Tier's "going to Rochester" zone.  Mom has a particularly debilitating cardiac condition- it's not cancer, but just as deadly, and just as painful and strung-out.  My friend and her sister have been splitting the near-daily visits from their respective ends of 90 and 390: the Elmira-based daughter comes up on and around the weekends, while her younger sister makes the near-daily trek from Buffalo during the week when their kids are in school.

It's a drag on everything- from the tires to the spirits.  My friend and her husband are among the funniest, kindest, smartest people I know, with two adorable young kids who they must be trying to spare from the stress of it all.

Day after tomorrow, I will be meeting my friend for lunch at Rochester's downtown Dino.  It's a small gesture of support and distraction, but one I just knew needed to be offered.  As with both my mother and mother-in-law, it's the daughters who do this work in so much of our culture- and it's as necessary, and as taxing, as any other kind of "work" one can perform.

Prayers are welcome for her mother, and for her- as "going to Rochester" continues to mean something far harder than a Red Wings game or a Springsteen concert.
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