A few leaves are still hanging on the trees, but my yard is so covered that you cannot see grass; most of my neighbors have leaf piles along the street as high as a five-year-old. All day and all evening for the next few weeks, somewhere within hearing, leaf blowers wail. This morning the air was so cold it made my face hurt as I walked across campus. My brother Vaughn’s birthday is two weeks from today. He will be forty-seven.
I read a post on Vaughn’s Facebook page the other day, bemoaning the fact that it is time to winterize his hobby cars. He wrote, “What a sad, sad way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I prepped the MG for the long cold winter.”
Cars are one of his hobbies. He has the MG, he has a red Autsin Healey, and he recently sold an antique VW Beetle. All of them are convertibles.
Vaughn drives his cars to antique car shows, whereas many haul their cars along on trailers to keep them pristine. At these shows, he stands around with men twenty and thirty years his senior, shooting the shit. When we were young, Vaughn and I shared a love for soccer, tennis, and beer. These three loves are no longer options for him.
He has some very nice cars. He also has Wegener’s granulomatosis. Never heard of it? We hadn’t either. The doctors in his hometown had not seen a case of it in over ten years. They didn’t know to look for it when he came in with respiratory problems accompanied by sudden arthritis. They misdiagnosed several times over.
Wegener’s granulomatosis—which is now being called granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), because apparently Dr. Wegener might have been affiliated with the Nazis—if not treated immediately and vigorously, destroys your kidneys, compromises your lungs and upper respiratory tract. It restricts blood flow to your extremities so gangrene sets in; you have to get the ends of your fingers, along with the fingernails, carved away to save your hands. At least that’s what happened in Vaughn’s case.