L. Neil Smith's
Number 234, August 17, 2003


The Dan Weiner Delivery
by Alan R. Weiss
alan at ebenchmarks dot com

special to TLE

Its just under 400 miles from Austin to Houston, round trip. It might as well be another dimension, though, when you're going to visit someone who is dying. The twin rush hours of Houston and Austin fade in memory, and what remains is not the physical discomfort of the hot Texas sun and the traffic, but the truth of why I went to see Dan Weiner.

Dan Weiner is dying. He might NOT die. He might still pull out a 1980 US Hockey Team type "miracle", the kind you hope Jim McKay announces. But the odds are definately stacked against Dan.

I debated whether or not I would tell you, my friends, the truth. I debated whether or not I should try to be upbeat. In short, I debated whether or not I should blow smoke up your asses. In the end, I decided you deserved the truth. Dan Weiner always tried to tell the truth in what he wrote. It seems to fit.

About that smoke: we don't know what causes this small-cell cancer, but since it was in his lungs first and spread like a Malibu wildfire, and since Dan smoked (and still does) like a smokestack, you'd go to Vegas with the odds that it was smoking that finally triggered the cancer.

I spoke at length to Harlan, who is Dan's roommate and she, with her wife Marti (its complicated, but use your imagination), are taking care of Dan. From what I can ascertain, Dan needs a LOT of taking care of. The medical details are excruciating in embarrassment and I'll not dwell on them out of respect for Dan. At least he is not feeling pain - yet. He also is not entirely "here" any longer. Today was one of his better days. He was reasonably lucid, considering. But he wasn't chipper, and he dozed off a lot (he's not on pain pills, either), and he forgets an awful lot a few seconds after whatever it was he should have remembered has happened. Marti, Harlan's wife, was at work, because yesterday she and Harlan obtained Durable Power of Attorney papers for Dan. Its all legal. From what I can tell of THAT, it was Dan's explicit wish, too.

I delivered the over $2600 that y'all gave so generously to Dan. At first, Harlan was insulted. "We don't need any money", she said in that East Texas twang that says, "we don't take charity." When I explained that it was because individuals were HONORING Dan Weiner, wanted him to keep up the good fight if he could, wanted him to eek out what pleasure he could if he can't fight what is ravaging his entire body, she relented. Then, she broke down an cried. She cried a few times when I visited. If it was an act, if this was a con game, it was so well carried out that you couldn't distinguish it from the real thing, and I can almost always tell a con.

But what kind of con game is it to tend to such a sick, frail person who can't tend for himself in basic bodily functions? What kind of con game is there to be had when Dan has no money, no real assets, and is in constant need of attention? Dan has grand mal seizures now, much like epilepsy. Brain cancer does that to you. There's nothing to con Dan for.

We both cried. Dan dozed on the couch. He had faded out again. One of their dozen or so cats crawled up onto my lap, purring.

This isn't a con. This is two lesbian women, one genetic, one transgendered, taking care of a very, very sick gay man who is dying, and caring deeply for him. They feel its their karmic duty to take care of him as followers of The Light. This is two sweet ladies caring for a dying friend, one they obviously care about.

Harlan agreed to try to get Dan's phone turned back on (he forgot to pay the bill). She agreed to try to get Dan back online, but she admitted that he forgets what he just typed, or why, and can't really focus. From what I say, I believe it.

I called L. Neil Smith, and he talked to Dan in that certain way Neil has, both courteous and caring at the same time. I'll let Neil tell you what he said, if he wants to, but it was lovely. Neil is going to send Dan his chapters on Ceres, and Texas uber Alles. If Dan can't read them, Harlan promised to read them to Dan, as if reading him a bedtime story. For you see, its pretty much always bedtime for Dan these days, as he sleeps a lot.

I then called Mary Lou Seymour, who's tough exterior hides a .999 pure gold heart of love, concern, and caring for a fallen compatriot. She and Dan chatted a bit. Dan was gruff and curt, and had little to say to her (or Neil). Brain cancer does that to you, too. She might have more to say on all that.

I made sure Dan Weiner got every bit of the money y'all donated, and all of the research that you sent was compiled by Mary Lou. I printed that out and gave it to Dan, and to Harlan. When I left her, when I had said my goodbyes to Dan, after Harlan had told me what the doctors had told her - that Dan is too far gone, that the Burzynski Clinic in Houston even doesn't think they can help him - I hugged her and told her to spend the money as Dan and she sees fit. Buy him some fun in what time he has left. Buy him some cesium if he thinks that might help him. She promised to do that.

I got in my car, and headed back into the Houston traffic to make my way back home to lovely Austin, 3 1/2 hours distant. I thanked Divine Providence and Harlan's Wiccan Goddess that I didn't have what Dan Weiner has, and I said a little, tiny prayer for him. And all of them.

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