Life, Death, Cancer and Loving Johnny Mathis
UPDATE: We heard from Johnny Mathis’ fan club. They are sending an autographed album for Mom. They also said that because of Johnny Mathis’ age, he does not meet with fans.
Here’s how things started…
I’ll say it flat out first: I’m writing this very personal story because I hope Johnny Mathis’ people will see it and grant a small and simple wish: A special moment for my Mom at the Johnny Mathis show on March 5, 2016 in Phoenix, AZ at the Celebrity Theatre (a quick Meet & Greet, a mention on stage, something to put a little more sweet into this bittersweet time for Mom). There, I’ve said it. I’m not one to ask for favors, but if you know someone… But this is not the story….
This is THE STORY…
My Mom and Dad met in Los Angeles in the early 60s. He was a civil engineer, she was in the secretary pool for the Governor of California (Gov. Brown, Sr.).
Johnny Mathis songs were the soundtrack to their courtship.
When Dad enlisted in the Navy and was sent to Honolulu, HI for training, my Mom eventually flew there and asked Dad to marry her. I think Johnny Mathis’ song, “Chances Are,” played at their wedding, I’m not 100% sure.
But I do know that “Chances Are” was a song filled with emotion and meaning for my Dad and Mom over the decades.
About 21 years later, my Dad and Mom were divorced. My sister and I were in college at the time. My Dad remarried, my Mom never did.
Fast forward to 2013. My Dad was in the process of getting a divorce from his second wife. He refused to move out during the long, drawn 0ut divorce process — apparently his lawyers said it would be “better for the divorce outcome” if he continued to live in the same apartment as his soon-to-be-ex. My Dad was miserable, but he held onto a renewed hope of reuniting with my Mom after over 20 years apart.
Finally, his divorce was final in late March 2014, and he moved out of his old apartment and moved in with my Mom just in time for her to take him to an outpatient procedure on his liver. The plan was that they would begin their “Third Act” together, Dad at 75, Mom [ageless].
Five weeks later, Dad was dead after a botched outpatient treatment that rapidly led to liver failure, then kidney failure. He drowned in the fluids that filled his body and lungs.
While Dad was at the hospital trapped in a failing body, I gave him an iPad and set it up with Pandora and a Johnny Mathis station to comfort him. Johnny Mathis songs were once again the soundtrack.
In the middle of April 2014, before my Dad died, I arranged to have a minister come to Dad’s hospital room to (re)marry my parents. Two weeks later, Dad gave me the small amount of money he had left after his divorce and sent me to the mall to buy Mom a diamond ring — the diamond ring he was not able to afford back when my parents were engaged in the 1960s.
My Dad presented my Mom with the ring on April 29th, 2014.
He died a few hours later.
Six months later, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mom flew out from Florida to be there for the surgery and to help take care of her. When my Mom and sister walked into the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Phoenix together prior to her surgery, someone was playing a piano in the hallway.
They were playing “Chances Are” by Johnny Mathis. “I think that was Dad saying he was with me, with us,” Mom told me.
Six months later, my Mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I flew to Florida to be with her and to fly her to Phoenix the moment she was able to travel. She was admitted into Cancer Treatment Centers of America to begin the long process of chemotherapy leading up to surgery.
Last month, Mom came to stay at my house as she recuperated from surgery. Mom still had the iPad I had given to Dad.
Every evening, the songs of Johnny Mathis played softly from her room.
On Feb 26, 2016, my Mom endured her last chemo treatment, and as is tradition at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Phoenix, she got to ring a big bell in the Center’s lobby to signify the completion of her treatment — a triumph in the face of cancer. At that time, my sister presented my mom with tickets to the Johnny Mathis show on March 5th in Phoenix.
Next Saturday (Mar 5, 2016), Johnny Mathis will be in Phoenix.
For my parents, Johnny Mathis’ song “Chances Are” represents their love in the 60s, of loss in the 80s, of love rekindled in 2014, and of loss again that year. “Chances Are” represents a love beyond loss and death and the hope for never-ending love in all of our lives.
My humble request: Please tweet Johnny Mathis’ people asking them to request that Johnny Mathis dedicate “Chances Are” to Mike and Lucy Sherman. You can CLICK HERE to tweet it.
Here are some of the tweets we received for #Love4Lucy. Thank you everyone!!
3/5/16 — I interviewed my Mom about what Johnny Mathis meant to her and my Dad.
Chances are, ’cause I wear that silly grin
the moment you come into view;
chances are you think that I’m in love with you.
Just because my composure sort-of slips
the moment that your lips meet mine,
chances are you think my heart’s your Valentine.
In the magic of moonlight,
when I sigh “hold me close, dear”
chances are you believe
the stars that fill the skies are in my eyes.
Guess you feel you’ll always be
the one and only one for me
and if you think you could,
well, chances are your chances are awfully good!
The chances are your chances are awfully good!