I lost my mother suddenly & unexpectedly in October, 1990, to a sudden heart attack. At the time, both my parents lived next door to me and I kidded them about being close enough to care for them in their old age. I never thought that would be anytime soon because they were both vibrant people with a lot of life in them. My mother was only 56 at the time of her death. My mother was my best friend and now she's gone. For almost a year, I found myself reaching for the phone to call her about something. Her death was surreal, unbelievable and I constantly asked "why?" The shock and pain I experienced was compounded by watching my father deteriorate out of grief before my eyes.
My father at the time was 66 years old, he and my mother had been married for 37 years. He was a retired Sr. VP from First Union and former Babe Ruth Baseball State Director for North Carolina. He developed pneumonia about a month after my mother's death and about six months later came to me and said he was lonely and seemed to be asking my permission to find companionship.
He wound up marrying a woman he had known previously. They married 11 months after my mother's death. I was happy that he had someone for companionship, I firmly believe he would have grieved himself to death had he not; however it was extremely difficult to see someone else in my mother's place. Within a year after their marriage, my family moved to another town close by, mainly because we really needed a larger home with our growing family and partly because I began comparing this woman to my mother and, obviously, she didn't come close in the comparison.
Four years into their marriage, five years after my mother's death, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I watched him deteriorate quickly over the next two years. He apparently went through the first stage, slight memory loss, for years and we never noticed it. He was excellent at covering this up! Fortunately, he went through the worst of it very quickly. We made arrangements to keep him in his own home as long as possible - he deserved the best. You could almost watch him go from stage to stage until in October 1997, we finally saw the need to put him in a nursing home and that's probably worse than going through the death of a loved one. He lasted about a month there, either the disease increased in speed or he just gave up. He wound up dying in the hospital with double pneumonia. I found I was happy for him when he passed, so unlike how I felt when my mother passed suddenly. I realized that I had grieved his loss with each stage of the Alzheimer's over the previous two years. Alzheimer's is definitely the "slow goodbye."
I look back and realize that going quickly is a blessing for the person who dies although much harder on the survivors. A slow, painful disease is hard on everyone involved. I am comforted in knowing that my parents are together again although I miss them terribly. I loved both of them so much and have two brothers (one 40 and one 28) that feel the same loss. They were wonderful, outgoing people. They instilled strong values & integrity in me and my brothers, mainly by setting a strong example. They had a tremendous impact on many people's lives. I firmly believe these are very impressive things to say about someone's life.
You can send email to Karen at: [email protected]
anniversary date Carolyn Robinson, Mother, 10-15-90 & Preston Robinson, Father, 11-23-97
date of post 09-09-98