Losing Both Parents

Cherri Brown

It has been almost 1 year since the nightmare began. Last June I learned that my mother who had had Leukemia for 7 years had 2-6 months to live. She had gotten to the point she was no longer responding to chemotherapy. Meanwhile my father had also been diagnosed with Alzheimer's only a few months before.

On July 4, 1996 both of them left home. My mother had become so bad that she was having to be transported by ambulance to a hospital 50 miles away. My father was having to be "committed" because he no longer knew us and was having violent episodes they call "sundown syndrome" which Alzheimer's patients sometimes have. They kissed good-bye for the last time in the local hospital emergency room and my father turned to me and ask, "how do I get home?" My father who no longer existed would have been out of his mind with concern over my mother because she truly was the "love of his life".

I drove him back home and cooked a quick dinner for him while my brother had gone on with my mother. The most heartbreaking part came when he was finished and I had packed a few things then drive him away from his home to the local hospital to await procedures to try to get him into a rest home because, my mother nor we could no longer care for him. He constantly would pace and in his mind trying to go home, a place he hadn't lived in 20 years. There were times toward the end he'd ask my mother who she was and how long she had lived there to name only one incident. Both nightmares continued, my mother remained in the hospital a few days while he stayed in the local hospital for 2 weeks. We had to hire around the clock sitters because of his constant pacing and violence. As her condition worsened, so did his. They managed to get him into a local rest home only to have him "kicked out" three days later because of the threat they felt because of his violence. He was a big man and unmanageable so he was then transported 50 miles away to an Alzheimer's facility to try to get the right medication to "control" his violent episodes. We were fortunate that he never was violent with my mother. Over a period of 2 months he was bounced back and forth to a few places as his condition worsened. Meantime we are focused on my mother who we know is dying. My brother and I felt our dad would linger for years with this. Little did we know he was dying also. I did not learn until after his death that there is a "fast kind" of Alzheimer's which we were later told he had. He also toward the end had a couple of strokes.

My mother spent 2 short days home, back to the local hospital for 1 week, then to a rest home 30 miles away and placed in a skilled care unit. While we tried to keep her home with hospice care and hired sitter at night, her kidneys shut down and was in unbearable pain. They started the morphine drip and tried to keep her comfortable until she slipped into a coma.

My mother lived only 1 week in the rest home. My father was never told of her death because in the event it had registered momentarily, he had all he could deal with but I didn't really think it would have mentally registered anyway.

My mother passed away August 13, 1996. On Friday, September 27, 1996, my father was transported to the same rest home (three doors down from where my mother had passed away only six weeks before). I was glad he was now closer where I could be there for him whether he knew me or not. My phone rang at 5:30 am, Sunday morning, September 29th, 1996. A nurse told me my father had passed away in his sleep. I was again devastated. I had been so close to both parents and am still trying to pick up the shattered pieces of my life and go on.

I have never experienced such a sense of loss and heartache in all my life and wonder when will I ever remember them with a smile instead of such sadness.

I now have a different sense of emotional pain like I have never known before. This pain could not hurt any worse than any physical pain imaginable.

This honor page is written in memory of my parents Raymond & Hazel Bush.

Cherri Brown

You can send email to Cherri at: [email protected]
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anniversary date Mother: August 13, 1996 Father: September 27, 1996
date of post 06-30-97

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW