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Howdy, Sarah Cannon!

I was in Nashville on Monday with Bill where we had an appointment at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute. We went there hoping to find a clinical trial suitable for his particular cancer. Because it is relatively rare, the treatment protocols are fairly broad and underfunded, so he has been taking general chemotherapy since January. Unfortunately, it stopped working recently, and he developed numerous nodules in his lungs. The prognosis had not been optimistic; our quest for answers frustrating. So, neither of us was brimming with confidence.

We got to Sarah Cannon early, so we went to a nearby convenience store to get some tea and a protein bar or something else nontoxic before his appointment. As we left the store, I noticed an older Ford F-150 pickup truck parked nearby. I guessed it was an early 1970’s model. It caught my eye because it was a gorgeous blue and cream, and it was in pristine condition.

I said out loud, “What a beautiful truck.” I had to have been talking to myself because Bill couldn’t care less about any vehicle, especially a vintage pickup truck. I care because, when I was a little boy, my father supplemented our income by restoring old pickup trucks. My two younger brothers got his mechanical skills; I got only his appreciation for beautiful vehicles.

As I admired that F-150, I looked up and noticed an elderly African-American man beaming. That truck was obviously his pride and joy, and it meant a lot that someone, even a gay white man he had never seen before, appreciated something he treasures and loves. We smiled at one another, nodded, and I said, “Howdy!”

We went on to Sarah Cannon, where I hoped and prayed that someone would care for someone I treasure and love. It was only after they told us that they have a trial suitable for Bill’s cancer that I discovered that Sarah Cannon was better known by her stage name. She would enter the Grand Ole Opry stage and greet the audience by saying, “HowDEEEEEE!” Everyone loved Minnie Pearl. Today I love her a little more.

May we all take a moment today to honor and appreciate something, or someone, that someone else treasures and loves.


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Rev. Michael Piazza

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