I am not a doctor. I am providing information based on experiences that my mom has with natural remedies. The purpose of this blog is to help folks to educate themselves. Use this information with your own discernment.

18 March 2011

Watching Parents Die

My mom and dad on their wedding day
August 1956
January, 1979... the dawn of a new year.  I was a 2nd semester Freshman in college and life was more fun than it had been for me since I was 6 years old.  My dad was alive.  My mom was a mom, she took care of her family and loved them all very much.

Dad was finally getting ahead in life.  He was 48 and a recent college graduate; leaving school in 9th grade for the school of hard knocks.  My dad was a likable individual, he smiled and sang all the time.  He had a beautiful voice and would often tell me stories of winning singing contests.

One story he told over and over, laughing while he told it as though it just happened.  He was about 12 and there was a talent contest in Chelsea, the city where he lived.  He got up on stage, got so nervous that he pee'd his pants.  Instead of running off the stage, he began singing, "Give me five minutes more..."  He completed the song, got a standing ovation and won the contest.

My dad appeared fearless to me.  He taught me so much just by what he did and how he was in life.  He worked hard, loved his family and making people happy.  Dad was an excellent party host.

One night in January 1979, my dad took us all out to dinner to the Hilltop Steak House.  I was psyched.  I loved going out to dinner with my family, it was always a big treat.  This one night, the restaurant was crowded and we had to wait.  We waited in the lounge.  I was finally of legal drinking age so I was able to have a drink with my dad.  Yay!

My dad took a sip of his High Ball and he immediately became ill.  He broke out in a sweat and was feeling nauseous.  We had to leave, we couldn't stay at the restaurant, he was sick.  I remember coming home with my dad, making him saltine cracker sandwiches with a slice of butter slapped between the two crackers and a cup of coffee.  Food that I now know was the WORST food for me to feed him.  I was making his situation worse.

Dad went to the ER and he underwent tests and an operation; prognosis was Pancreatic Cancer with 6 months to live.  It was crushing news, but my dad, the fighter that he was, didn't let it get him.  He knew he was going to die and he felt bad that he was leaving my mom at such a young age.  Instead of becoming depressed, Dad prepared my mother.

My dad and my mom used to go for walks along the beach.  I'm not sure exactly what my dad was telling my mom, but I do know that my dad was preparing her for his death.  It was sad but also sweet to see them drive off for their daily walk along the beach.  Their days together were numbered and my dad was going to make them count.  He did.

Dad withstood chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  Both made him more ill and seemed to piss off the cancer cells; they spread like a ferocious lion eating it's way through a hen house.  My dad was fading fast.

His last words to me, which I believe changed the course of my life were, "Susie, you are partying too much.  You are going to drop out of school like your sister.  Please don't be a disappointment to me.  You are better than that, make me proud."  I never forgot dad's words.  Words that truly saved me.  He died the next day.

Dad died after 7 months of suffering; the day he passed was the worst day of my young life.  I lost the only person in the world who encouraged me and often approved of me.  He left this world disappointed in me; I didn't have his approval and that was crushing.

On the day that dad passed, I promised my mom that I'd take care of her when she became an old lady.  Maybe I was trying to seek my dad's approval from the other side?  My mom laughed at my promise, never believing it would come true.

I spent my life building a successful career.  I became an over achiever.  My dream of being a 3rd grade school teacher went out the window because the salary wouldn't afford me the opportunity to take care of my mom.  My mother NEVER thought that I would be here care giver, she expected it to be one of my other sisters.

Only when I bought a house for the 2 of us in 1998 did she believe me.  Years have passed since my mom and I became roommates.  I am now witnessing the slow death of my mother, which is just as heart wrenching as watching my dad die in gut wrenching pain brought on by cancer.

Often, I find myself praying for my mom's end day to come soon, it's horrible to watch her quality of life diminish.  Her loss of control over her life is the hardest part of her decline to watch.  She blames me for her inabilities and has begun to tell me that she doesn't love me.  It used to hurt and make me cry; not anymore.

I have done all that I can do for my mom.  I miss her every day, even though she lives in the same house.  I miss how she used to help me in the house.  How I would come home and my dishes would be done and the sink would be clean.  I miss how she used to make me mushroom soup.  I'd call her from an airport somewhere and tell her what time I'd be home.  She always had something hot and ready for me to eat when I got home after a long trip.  It didn't matter if it was 1 AM, mom was always up and greeting me.

I do wish my dad could have lived longer so that I could have had more memories with him.  Instead, I got the gift of my mom.  We have had some awesome times together and some extremely difficult ones too.  I'm sure if there's a life after death, my dad approves.

So... it's not easy watching ones parents die, but what I'm learning is that there's a blessing hidden in every relationship we have with other humans on Earth.  You, my reader, you too are a hidden blessing in my life.  Thank you for reading my words and encouraging me to write every day so that you can find my prose.


  1. It is so true. I miss my Mom everyday even though we live in the same house. All that is left of the Mom I knew is a shell. The person is gone.

  2. that was for the me most heart warming story you've ever told. it really moved me.

    i think sometimes about my son, and how he would be affected if i died today, and how he would remember me, and use the tools ive given him to build his life.

  3. @ Kim... sometimes tho', they come back for a short time and it's awesome. Don't you think?

    @Slyde... your son will have lots of stories to tell about his very smart dad and all the cool things that you did together. You are also leaving him an awesome legacy with your writing.

    My dad wrote a journal, which I will publish one day as a blog post a day. He wrote about his life and the people in it. His journal is one of my greatest treasures. When I read it, I feel like his sitting in the room talking to me. Your blog posts will have the same effect on your son.

  4. The last time I visited here (which was quite some time ago) you touched my heart. Well, you've done it again. I couldn't even hold the tears back.

    My grandmother died of pancreatic cancer. It was awful. So, I can relate.

    Beautiful words Susie. Your dad would be so proud

  5. Roschelle... thank you for your kind words. I do like to think that dad is proud of me.