Sorry. It won’t happen again…

Mom and Dad were planning an Alaskan cruise with a group of friends from their church when he was diagnosed with cancer in 1998.  With a departure date scheduled for just a month post-surgery, they canceled their plans. 

As his condition leveled out over the next few months, Dad settled into chemotherapy treatments every other week, and Mom assumed her role of primary caregiver.  The prognosis wasn’t great, but he’d made the decision to pursue non-heroic treatment for the near term… and was hanging in for his final year or so.

When the daily routine returned to something resembling “normal”, Mom would occasionally mention the trip, expressing her disappointment that their plans were scuttled by Dad’s illness.  Dad wouldn’t say a word as she would tell anyone within earshot “We were booked on that Alaskan cruise but had to cancel when Dad got sick…”

He apparently hit his limit one day when he quietly responded “I’m really sorry I got cancer and screwed up your vacation”.

She didn’t mention it again, at least not in front of me, until a few weeks after he died.

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9 thoughts on “Sorry. It won’t happen again…

  1. My mother? Let me tell you about my mother… (BLAM!)

    One of my favorite scenes from Blade Runner.

    Sorry, but I tend to react strongly to tales of cruelty inflicted upon loved ones by a mother’s petty selfishness.

  2. uncle keith – it’s the cluelessness that is so astonishing.

    toby – i only got it randomly, and it only hurt when i let it. my Dad lived with it… part of the mystery i’m working through out here. he stayed. i run…

    az – thanks. nice to know i’m not just being overly sensitive…

    kyknoord – didn’t defend himself often, but could cut like a scalpel when he did…

  3. When Rob read this he commented that your mom sounds a lot like mine. My mom struggles with the care-giver role. It isn’t what she envisioned (and that’s a really long story that I should flesh out on my own blog).

    I can see both sides. I was a care-giver to my late husband in the first year and a half of his illness because I didn’t have the resources at the time for a nursing home (and he really needed that from day one – another long story). I know how it feels to have what you thought/dreamed/planned for out of life be totally upended by terminal illness. It takes a while to get your head/heart around the shift in roles and the loss of the future. I wasn’t anyone you would make a Lifetime Movie about in praise of my selflessness either.

    In the end, tragedy really doesn’t remake us at our core – at least not most of us. We stay the same people we were. I am sorry your dad had to endure that but I am sorry for your mom too.

  4. manuel – my sister and i ended up taking her on the cruise a year or so later… and we even brought her back!

    annie – thanks for the point of view. Mom was an amazing caregiver – we’d gotten the impression that Dad had about 6 months-1year (stage 4 colon cancer), but her care kept him alive about 4 more years… some of that time was quite good… and your observation on tragedy is powerful. perhaps it brings out and strengthens the best as well as a bit of the worst…

    Bb – as always, she just didn’t realize the sharp and pointed nature of her words…

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