Pinky Pie

Matt & Me

Posted on: December 11, 2009

I started to write about something else today. What was I thinking?

Today Matt would have been 32 years old.  Yikes on so many levels, but especially that he would have been that old. And that it’s been that long since 1986 when he was an 8 years old going through bone marrow transplant.

But that is not how I want to remember Matt. I want to remember him for his humor and good spirit despite it all.

I especially loved his response to the suggestion that he use his writing skills while he was being treated for leukemia. A nurse said he should write a story about his body successfully fighting leukemia cells.

Already an amazing writer, he thought that might be a good idea. He went to work on his Apple C3 computer – it wasn’t even a Macintosh it was so long ago.

He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t be serious. It wasn’t in him.

Instead, he wrote a comedy called, “Hospital Mania.” The character in his story was named Mark, a bright kid who realized his father wasn’t the sharpest syringe in the medical cabinet. In fact, he was an especially bumbling guy based – we think – on the Chevy Chase character in “Vacation.”

Mark’s father, Clark, made a true mess of things in the hospital, including drinking Mark’s science experiment from the refrigerator on the floor. Matt described it as “topsic [his spelling] waste salt water and white food coloring that was in that milk carton.”

Ah, Clark, did other things as well, including getting lost in the bathroom on this way to the coffee machine, eating off another patient’s tray and pushing the emergency button instead of turning on the television.

It was just plain embarrassing to Mark that his dad couldn’t even get the doctor’s name right:

“Oh, good-bye Dr. Lobsternalt,” said Clark.

“Lospernalt,” said the doctor.

Then Mark started laughing. “Mark,” said Clark.

“What?” asked Mark?

“Shush, and one more peep out of you and cancer isn’t going to be the only reason you’re here any more,” said Clark.

His story also included Mark’s response when a nurse came into to give him a blood test, which first involved a small bit of medicine to anesthetize his arm.

“Does it hurt?’ asked Mark.

“It’s a poke but it doesn’t hurt as much as a shot would.”

Then suddenly Mark went under his covers to hide form the nurse.

“Mark, come out and get your shot like all the other kids do,” said Clark.

“I am getting my shot the way all the other kids do. I’m hiding,” answered Mark.

Mark gave his father a talk about the things that he had done wrong.

“Dad, you’ve been goofing up all the time. You can’t pronounce the doctor’s name, you got tangled in my I.V. cord and I’m sure things have been happening to you that I don’t know about,” said Mark.

“Things have been happening that you don’t know about and to keep my reputation as a grown up I’m not telling you what the heck they are!” said Clark.

“Hospital Mania” was included in The Great Planet Swap and Other Stories, which we printed while he was on transplant so he could be a published author, his dream. When the book arrived, Matt signed autographs and sold copies of the book to the hospital staff and placed his proceeds in a bucket that naturally he labeled “royalties.” After he died, the immediate royalties went to his school library. Later, after the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis reprinted the book, all proceeds went to the house.

Thinking of you, Matt, today and every day.


8 Responses to "Matt & Me"

Sue -I wish had known Matt – he sounds delightful – thinking of you & your family today, hope its good

This is a beautiful tribute to a wonderful son and brother. I love it. I’ve been thinking about him all day too.

Lovely! Matt truly was a special kid, but then he had special parents, too. He lived many of his dreams in his short life, supported always by his loving family.

What a nice tribute. Thinking of you on this day. Was Matt the oldest child? What a cute little boy he was.

Thank you for sharing a part of Matt today. You and your family have been in my thoughts.

I am so thankful that I knew Matt as well as I did. Just cutting his hair and having a little chat with Matt was an adventure, the imagination and character were amazing that surrounded him, he seemed to have a rainbow on his shoulder at all times. So thankful to have been his friend and hairdresser.

Matt had been in my thoughts ever since I re- connected with you in the writing class and sitting with Dick on a park bench in Riverside Park this past 4th of July I had memories of Matt.
I always appreciated that you shared Matt and his creative spirit with me in a summer art class at the U.
Our sons will be forever young.

This is your first post that has brought me spontaneously to tears. I love that you shared this on your blog…it explains so much about the Hessel (and Mial) spirit. Matt faced the beast with humor as you are.

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