I know many of you have been wondering where my column has been because of all the emails I’ve received. Thanks so much for your concern.

Rita’s (my wife and hygienist) mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer about 8 years ago. She went through treatment for this to come out of it with what everyone wants to hear — no cancer.

Five years later she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She went trough the infamous whipple procedure and chemotherapy to once again hear — no cancer.

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She did remarkably well through all of this. Eight months ago she was diagnosed with leukemia. As you would expect, she did well through this and was on maintenance care — she was told she could live a reasonable life while on maintenance —and she did.

About 2 months ago she took a turn for the worse, having problems breathing. This led to a biopsy and a diagnosis that the pancreatic cancer reemerged in her lungs. Unfortunately, though she fought as hard as she could, Rita’s mom was reunited with her predeceased family and friends along with God on Aug. 21, 2021.

As you might suspect, Rita, along with her siblings, were by her side through all of this. Rita spent 1.5 months in Brooklyn, New York, with her parents prior to her passing. I was there for the last 3 weeks of this. As you might suspect, life has been on a huge hold for us — hence, no column.

Rita’s dad is now living with us. We are so happy to be able to do this for him. He is 93 years old, but does extremely well with us. He always had a green thumb, so we have planted some basil and tomato plants. I have been given the honorary name of “Frank The Farmer — In Training.”

As you might suspect, Rita’s dad is Italian. Born in New Jersey but raised in Italy from 3-19 years old on a farm. He is what I call “Old Stock.”

He worked hard all his life and was very content in his backyard in Brooklyn. I’ve been spending time sitting on our lanai overlooking some oak trees and a canal off of the Homosassa River with him. This is a place I would rarely stay, because I have an aversion to the summer heat. Because he enjoys this, I joined him.

You might wonder why I am telling you all of this. Well, Rita’s dad has taught me plenty, but one thing of great significance is that you can sit in our backyard and see two totally different views.

My view was of a pool, canal and some trees. His view is of squirrels playing and jumping from branch to branch in the trees, running along the screen enclosure and jumping onto the trees. He has shown me the woodpeckers pecking at the tree and explained the different kinds of woodpeckers there are. He showed me a red robin and explained the difference between it and a cardinal.

We had a bird get in the cage and had a blast trying to get it out. He even showed me butterflies that have made their way into the cage and get out all on their own. He now knows the routine of our neighbors’ travels down the canal on their boats. He has taught me to take a moment to just sit and enjoy what nature has provided for us.

It has been amazing to me how relaxing it can be to just sit there and talk with him.

Many may think that having your father-in-law with you after his wife has passed is a burden —for me it is just the opposite. I’m not saying this comes without its challenges — it does — but in the end he is offering us so much more than we are offering him.

Rita’s mom is at peace, finally. She struggled so hard through all of the above diagnoses. All of Rita’s trips through those years were difficult to endure but so worth it for the time well spent with her mom. Though she is certainly missed, she is now in a better place.

If you are prayerful, please take a moment to say a little prayer for Rita and her family. I would certainly appreciate it.

Dr. Frank Vascimini is a dentist practicing in Homosassa. Send your questions to 4805 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, FL 34446 or email them to him at DrVascimini@MasterpieceDentalStudio.com.

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