Francisco Olaguez, 1938 – 2009

After several months of fighting cancer, my father, has passed away this last Sunday. We spend the past four weeks in and out of the hospital and then finally gave in to the idea of Hospice care and a nursing home this last Wednesday.

Francisco Olaguez, 70, of 1518 Broadway Street in Iowa City, died Sunday, July 12, 2009 at Iowa City Rehabilitation & Health Center from complications of cancer.

Mass of Christina Burial will be hel Saturday at 11:00 am at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Iowa City with The Very Reverend Rodolph Juarez officiating. Friends may call Friday from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service in Iowa City where a parish wake service will be held at 6:30 pm. Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery in Iowa City. Memorials to the Francisco Olaguez Memorial Fund. Online condolences may be sent to www.lensingfuneral.com.

Thank you.

The Face of Cancer

It is going to be a year in August that my mom died and with every passing month since then, I have had to see my father deal with both the loss of his wife and his own progression into cancer. It is hard to describe what cancer really means to people, yet every week I see it first hand in the Cancer Center when I take my father for his treatments. There is a hopelessness that takes hold of family and friends, while the actual patient tries to maintain a fragile spirit about themselves. In many ways, cancer is a shared disease. When your wife has cancer, you have it too, your kids have it, and so the nurses and doctors end up talking about treatments and test results, and they look at everyone in the room as patients, cause they know everyone is suffering. Months into the diagnosis, you learn everyone’s names, you see the same people, the same nurses, the same office people, and everyone knows you are dying. There are polite conversations every time, but in between there is always silences that stay with you. Food doesn’t taste the same. How can it, you are taking more medication now, more pills, more treatment, more of everything. The body tires of the blood tests, the analysis, the probing, the indignity of what seems unnatural. It is only the mind that continues to fight, to think and search of escape. Maybe this is why, I don’t have the patience for any serious films anymore. I don’t want to be serious, I want to be irresponsible, I want to laugh and return to silliness, to run back into childhood imagination, where I did not have to decide anything, live up to anything, be responsible. However, you are already on the other side of it. You already made some arrangements, you have looked down at a patch of ground, where the body will be laid, you have made compromises and you are satisfied with material things, but not your feelings. There still lingers the hope of a possibility, of life dragging on, but how and to where you don’t know. What is tangible is the earth, not the sky. Clouds you can see but never touch. The ground is beneath you, you tell yourself, it is here and you can dig into it and feel it for yourself. You want to believe in something, as you close your eyes every now and then and let the vision fade, breathe out this one life.

Man Date Rules

Seems like an eternity since I have sat down and blogged anything, but after seeing the movie, I Love You Man, I had to sit down and jot a few lines as to how men relate to one another.

I seem to remember the Summer of 1989 as being the last time that my male friends and I really had great times. We were all about 16 or 15 and it was right before our Junior year in High School. The Summer days were spent driving around in an old beater car and playing basketball till dark and then going to a quickstop for some sort of Slurpee and then the usual talk about what girls we liked and which ones we hated. We were consumed by the dream of having a girlfriend and maybe a better car. The Summer days were long and the conversation was always interesting. Then came the heartache of Junior year in the Fall, and the relationships we had were tested by the very thing that consumed us, namely the opposite sex. It was no longer cool to just hang out, cause his girlfriend didn’t like my girlfriend, or worse, I didn’t have a girlfriend, or the girlfriend didn’t like me, or half a million reasons that did not make sense. The ordeal of Junior year was that women cause wars, and much like the Trojan War, mere boys waged battle and held animosity for each other for the sake of a girlfriend. Senior year followed and it was too late we could never go back to that Summer of ’89 and be just boys. We were men with girlfriends and lives, and even responsibilities. Then Prom came and went and all of a sudden we saw each other and did the one thing we thought we could never do, we forgave each other and put away our grudges and walked away forgetting the wars and battles and the time of peace had come. At the same time, some of us walked away and felt a terrible loneliness. I left Chicago and came to Iowa and my world got a little bigger and a lot different.

In Iowa, I met lots of other guys and made friends. I even mentored a few freshmen, my sophomore year. College seemed more about having shared experiences, than about maintaining strong best-friend relationships. Given that the Internet revolution happened while I was in college, I can see how technology can be isolating for many men, instead of helpful in establishing friendship. Now the Internet is incredibly intricate and it is perplexing to me that as men we all communicate every day, yet have devoted very little of our time to actually becoming better communicators. Yes, we may think it is funny that women have brunch and talk for hours about unimportant events and matters, but in truth women are better communicators. But this rant is not about women, it is about men and how we go about the business of life, outside of work.

The Rules?

The hardest thing about dating in general is that you have to put yourself out there and ask someone else to spend time with you. This can be awkward and uncomfortable for most of us. However, you have to think about it this way, the idea is to have a good time, so it is not about any thing else. Men don’t sit around and talk about feelings, but at the same time, men need to be open and ask for what they want. If you want to go see that new action movie and want someone to tag along with you, say so.

Whatever you do, don’t be pushy or annoying. Men don’t like guys who constantly bother them or ask them for stuff. As my girlfriend reminds me all the time, personal space for men is about ten times larger in radius than it is for women. So don’t tread on me!

Be interesting. It is that simple. No one likes the typical Cheers character that bombards you with useless trivia, but worse is the guy who just wants to be your friend and who happens to bore you to death. You have to bring something to the table. If you are the sports guy, the politics guy, or just the typical comedian, be that guy, just don’t go overboard. With age, comes temperance, you should know a little about everything. Even if you hate sports, you still need to know who The Lakers are.

Man dates are all about the experience. It needs to be fun and somewhat memorable. The hard part is that most men hate lots of things. For example, I use to play golf in my teens. I know the game well, because I had a good golf coach, yet I have not touched a club in more than ten years and if someone asks me to golf, I will always turn them down. It does not interest me. Hate it! Sometimes it just doesn’t work, so be prepared to know that before your date.

Politics and the right conversation. Men can take politics a little too far and let the conversation go downhill before you even realize it. Don’t let political opinions kill your mood. You have to let some things slide. Politics can also be a bad sign that you really can’t be friends too, so before your date you might want to make sure you can even be comfortable if the subject of politics comes up.