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Twelve Oars for Prostate Cancer

April 24, 2017

Following the coxswain’s command, “stroke,” six black men dipped twelve oars into the water. Their muscles acted as one and pushed gallons of water in one big swish along both sides of the boat. The sun’s reflection dances in their eyes and warms their faces. “Stroke,” the coxswain sang out again and they propel their boat away from the rising sun. “Stroke,” twelve oars go down and then twelve oars come up.  Each stroke united us. Prostate cancer bonded our fate. Each of us chose a different therapy, and hopefully it’s decades before we meet our maker and become coxswains singing, “stroke.”Emile Scott 1

Emile Scott, my wife’s uncle, was rowing with his crew on lake prostate when I met him. Scott was a retired realtor and loved his grandchildren as much as he loved Easter Hill Methodist Church where he was one of the founding members. He raised his three daughters there and they in turn are raising their families there too. His family and close friends called him, “Scotty.” Brown big hipped women made his eyes twinkle and he loved cooking and sharing his meals with others, especially fried fish. A World War II veteran, he suffered from hearing loss. Sometimes his hearing aids buzzed, forcing everyone to talk louder, but that didn’t stop him from quoting bible scriptures.

Heavy hearts gathered at Easter Hill for Scott’s going home service. Grief filled tears moisten the congregations’ cheeks as they said, “goodbye Scotty.” He lived life well; unfortunately his prostate cancer had metastasized before his prostatectomy and two cancerous spots appeared years later after his surgery on his pelvic. His pain became so great in his last days that he begged for relief only God gives. Now he sings with the other coxswains, “stroke.”

I hear him singing “stroke,” to my crew afloat lake prostate ─  twelve oars down and then twelve oars up, “stroke.”

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