Leave it to Mom

My friend Karen B. writes:

Upon hearing Alex Trebek had died this week... I had a Jeopardy memory... 

My parents religiously watched Jeopardy every night after dinner.  They were kind of competitive about it.  It would really irritate my mother that most of the time Dad would come up with the correct answers.  Then one day Mom found out that Seattle, where my sister lived, showed Jeopardy one hour earlier than in Astoria. She came up with a plan where she would call my sister during the earlier Seattle telecast and get the answers to some of the main questions, then an hour later, when watching it with Dad, she could impress him with HER intelligence.  It worked.  Dad thought she was so smart!  (She actually was, to think this up.) 

After Mom passed away, we sisters told Dad what she had done.  He laughed so hard he had tears... "Oh, that Katherine... I will sure miss her."


  1. What is it with pancreatic cancer, the kind that took down Alex Trebek? It first came into my life when my pal Dave Anderson got it a few years back. Dave was a world class standup comedian who co-hosted AM Northwest and the Mark and Dave show. Earlier he'd been on a radio show called Dave and Dwight with Dwight Slade. I first met those maniacs even before that when we all worked at a radio station in Vancouver.

    When he got the diagnosis Dave emailed us and said not to read about it on the internet. Too late. As I recall the numbers were like 5% make it for 5 years. Pretty damn grim.

    The next was my longtime doctor, the legendary Dr. Ron Naito who was forced to retire when he got pancreatic cancer too. He never mentioned he was from the Naito family of Parkway fame. We'd spend at least half of each appointment talking about life - especially comedy. Once he called me at home and I was a little concerned. He said he had made a bet for the finest dinner in New York if I could get one of his jokes on the Tonight Show. Later he would call me again at home and save my life. He wanted me to go to emergency right then and he wasn't taking no for an answer. That was March 2016 and I'm still here and he's gone. It's so unfair. We had his memorial service last winter at Reed College.

    So in other words when I heard Alex Trebek had pancreatic cancer I knew what to expect. You go through about a year of treatments and knock the cancer down. Dave used to have a pump for chemo that you could hear on his radio show. At some point everyone is very encouraged and though they don't say you're cured they say you're cancer free. Dave, Ron and Alex all continued living and for awhile everything is great.

    The problem is that the remaining few cancer cells are the baddest of the bad. The ones that have survived this onslaught of therapies. The most virulent. When these come back they swarm. Dave felt a little off one week so went into have his numbers checked. He was dead in days.

    I still can't make any sense of it all. I did note that Alex Trebek had given an interview where he said he was still alive but he wasn't sure he wanted to be. It's a grueling fade-out. Oh well, let me leave you with two things about Dave Anderson. I wrote comedy for him at the Hacks versus Flacks Roast for public schools. Mark Mason who is also the Blazers PA guy was no slouch but when Dave got going, it was big time. I've never heard anyone deliver my jokes that well and the laughs were coming in like cannons. It was a beautiful experience sitting in the Hilton Ballroom listening to Dave crush my jokes. Unforgettable. We also did a couple at the Moda Canter but that night at the hotel was ridiculous.

    One night I went to the Schnitz to see Dennis Miller. Dave Anderson opened so my lasting memory is seeing him on that big stage in front of a big crowd and he absolutely killed it. The delivery was so smooth I almost wept. Never was I so proud of a fellow Portlander as I was that night with Dave Anderson and never have I hated a kind of cancer as much. Pancreatic cancer is a beast.

    One last thing: He wrote a letter that Mark read after he died and it started by saying if we were hearing this than he knew what that meant and it sucks. It was one last creative touch from an amazing guy. And now Alex is going to be doing his show on tape for the rest of the year. I'm guessing that will be quite heavy for Alex Trebek fans as well.

    1. My mother, from the story above, also died from pancreatic cancer. She was 60 years old when she died.

  2. Wow, it's everywhere. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'd also like to make sure anyone just getting this diagnosis doesn't lose all hope. There's always hope that you'll be the one to beat it and new therapies arrive all the time. But it is heartbreaking how often this is turning up. Other well-known people who died of it include Areatha Franklin, Patrick Swayze, and Steve Jobs.


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