Author Topic: 45 Years Ago This Month, or When Should a Parent Tell Offspring That Other Parent is Terminal?  (Read 107 times)

0 Members and 0 Guests are viewing this topic.

Offline JBG

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 180
  • Left-Wing Democrat (similar to NDP)
  • Location: New York area
I wrote this earlier in the month. I didn't know this forum well enough to know where to put it. I posted an update to what happened on this day 45 years ago. Both the December 15 portion and the December 31-January 1 portion merit comment. Thus while I did not keep a diary I posted it in diary form.

==========================================================================================================================
December 15, 1972

Exactly 45 years yesterday, on December 15, 1972 (also a Friday) I was a 15 year old high school sophomore. I came home from school that icy day, hoping that the Holiday concert I was due to perform in wasn't going to be snowed or iced out.

My father had had a rectal cancer resected in late August 1971. After a promising start he began developing pains in July 1972. He had a liver scan and his doctor flat-out lied to him about the results; they told him it was "clear." While he had his good days, many days were increasingly painful by October. My doctor said he told my mother the outlook and at some level I think he was telling me the truth. When he gave my mother a surprise party on November 7, 1972, her 40th birthday, I think she was pretty sure it was near the end, though he still went to work in NYC every day.

He had another liver scan on November 24, the day after Thanksgiving. His doctor told my mother that he was close to death, though that day he felt well enough we even talked about his returning to the ski slopes that winter. His last day of work was December 8; he was checked into New Rochelle Hospital on December 11, a Monday. One of the doctors there told my mother "don't you think it's time you told your son"?

When I came home she tried to be indirect. It didn't work, since I knew from my reading at the library what the real outlook for his disease was. I insisted on calling his doctor, since teh lack of candor seriously bothered me. He told me he had told her in October, but that he knew from before the 1971 operation my father was finished. I called my cousin in another state, who confirmed that I had read the literature correctly. That night, since my mother didn't feel up to driving, I took a cab to the High School to play at the concert. It was too icy to bike the six or so miles.

I wanted to tell my father what his fate was to be. My mother would not permit me to do that. my father died on January 5, 1973, exactly four weeks later.

The question I throw out there is, in that kind of situation, when should a son or daughter know what's going on? I did my own reading and came to my own conclusion. Thoughts?

===============================================================
December 31, 1972 - January 1, 1973

On New Years Eve, 45 years ago today we visited my father in the hospital. While he had a "good day" the day before, he was semi-conscious, his legs waving in the air and the rest of him tied securely to the bed. The providers had unhooked the feeding tube, telling us that he (involuntarily) struggled too much. We understood it to mean that they knew the end was near and there was no point.

His sister and her significant other showed up after a New Years Eve engagement. My mother was told by the nurse that she was in party gear and wreaked of alcohol. She ordered the tubes reconnected, so they tied my father more securely (the way you would tie a cord of lumber) and put him back on. When I came back to the hospital I was livid. My mother said to just "let it be."

I went back to school the next day at the end of the holiday break. With a few dimes in my pocket to keep my tabs on what was going on. He died Thursday night/Friday morning.
Trump - Watch what he does, not how he says it.

====================
 If it's us or them, I choose us

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Sad Sad x 1 View List

guest4

  • Guest
My heart goes out to you in sympathy for what was clearly a devastating experience for you.

I have never been in that situation but I think I would likely tell my (older) kids when I knew for sure.  Would that be when the doctor told me?  I don't know.  My personal experience is that people cling to the hope that through some miracle their loved one will live and even entertaining the thought that they may not seems disloyal and wrong.  Saying so out loud even more so.

When my mother was dying I went home to help care for her.  She was bedridden, slept much of the time, survived on Ensure because she couldn't eat solids, was incontinent and had care aids in three times a day to clean her and the bedding.  I had been there a week when my Dad said "She is not going to get better, is she?"  It was clear until that point he had hoped for otherwise. 

My sister-in-law at the time was unable to come into the house without crying and four of my six siblings spent much time avoiding; one never even came.  Ultimately it was myself, a sister and a niece who carried most of the load during my mother's last days.  Its not that the rest of the family didn't love my mother, but that they couldn't accept or cope with what was happening to her.  Its such a very personal and emotional time for everybody, I think few people handle these things with grace and poise, and nobody really knows the "right" thing to do or even if there is a single "right" thing to do in every case.

Offline JBG

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 180
  • Left-Wing Democrat (similar to NDP)
  • Location: New York area
My heart goes out to you in sympathy for what was clearly a devastating experience for you.
Actually the far worse part was the initial operation and the disruption of family relationships and friendships that it caused.  I knew through my reading by January 1972 and talking to the doctor while on vacation in Barbados in February 1972 (operation was in last week of August 1971) that, though he appeared healthy he wasn't going to live. My "friends" from second to eighth grade (this was 9th grade year) were extremely unhelpful and that's putting it mildly. My mother was little better. When she came home from the hospital during August - September 1971 she raced for the phone to start calling her friends. She would say "I have to thank (fill in the blank) for something and it will be five minutes and then she was on the phone for an hour. Then another call and another hour. And this was my first year of high school, which had its own misadventures, partly due to what I was experiencing.

By the time she told me the "news" on December 15, 1972 my response to her was to say, basically,"duh, like I didn't already know that." The year was going much better in school and I had somewhat left behind my elementary and middle school friends for new ones, one of whom I am still close with and had lunch with last Friday.

I have never been in that situation but I think I would likely tell my (older) kids when I knew for sure.  Would that be when the doctor told me?  I don't know.  My personal experience is that people cling to the hope that through some miracle their loved one will live and even entertaining the thought that they may not seems disloyal and wrong.  Saying so out loud even more so.
Maybe one doesn't have to tell literally when they find out but certainly at the point when the sick person's health is definitely on a persistent decline. The worse sin was: a) Not telling my father; and b) Not allowing me to tell my father.

When my mother was dying I went home to help care for her.  She was bedridden, slept much of the time, survived on Ensure because she couldn't eat solids, was incontinent and had care aids in three times a day to clean her and the bedding.  I had been there a week when my Dad said "She is not going to get better, is she?"  It was clear until that point he had hoped for otherwise. 
I had my own merry story with Ensure. When my mother was on hospice they gave her Ensure whenever she said she was thirsty. When I tried to have that process stopped the hospice agency threatened a referral to Adult Protective Services. Ditto if I switched hospice providers. My Rabbi (a religious official) referred me to "Westchester Right to Die Coalition" which recommended that I call an ethics meeting with the board of the hospice. Though the meeting did not go smoothly (more if you're interested) they got the message and asked for authority to administer morphine five days later. She was dead two days later. She lingered on hospice for ten months.

My sister-in-law at the time was unable to come into the house without crying and four of my six siblings spent much time avoiding; one never even came.  Ultimately it was myself, a sister and a niece who carried most of the load during my mother's last days.  Its not that the rest of the family didn't love my mother, but that they couldn't accept or cope with what was happening to her.  Its such a very personal and emotional time for everybody, I think few people handle these things with grace and poise, and nobody really knows the "right" thing to do or even if there is a single "right" thing to do in every case.
My stepsisters were a big help. I don't understand how the "avoiders" and "cryers" can consider themselves adults.
Trump - Watch what he does, not how he says it.

====================
 If it's us or them, I choose us

Offline Goddess

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 817
Quote
Maybe one doesn't have to tell literally when they find out but certainly at the point when the sick person's health is definitely on a persistent decline. The worse sin was: a) Not telling my father; and b) Not allowing me to tell my father.

Because of having to deal with this personally, recently - I totally understand how you feel.

My father-in-law passed on December 29.  He had been treated and had surgery for a tumor in his neck 2 years ago and had been on a feeding tube for the last 2 years because he refused to try and chew.

A few months ago, he started having trouble again and had all kinds of tests.  But the family didn't want to know the results of the tests.  I suspect he was full of cancer.  So he died "suddenly" and no one got to say goodbye to him, neither did he get to say goodbye to anyone.  He was alone in his hospital room.

I don't really understand the reasoning behind not telling when someone is terminal.  It can leave a lot of unresolved emotional strings.  I'm sorry you are dealing with this.  :'(
"A religion without a Goddess is half-way to atheism."

Offline JBG

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 180
  • Left-Wing Democrat (similar to NDP)
  • Location: New York area
Because of having to deal with this personally, recently - I totally understand how you feel.

My father-in-law passed on December 29.  He had been treated and had surgery for a tumor in his neck 2 years ago and had been on a feeding tube for the last 2 years because he refused to try and chew.

A few months ago, he started having trouble again and had all kinds of tests.  But the family didn't want to know the results of the tests.  I suspect he was full of cancer.  So he died "suddenly" and no one got to say goodbye to him, neither did he get to say goodbye to anyone.  He was alone in his hospital room.
Did chewing hurt too much? Otherwise an awful story.

I don't really understand the reasoning behind not telling when someone is terminal.  It can leave a lot of unresolved emotional strings.  I'm sorry you are dealing with this.  :'(
I don't think it's reasoning so much as procrastination. The conversation is almost always difficult. In some cases the person being told may be overcome with emotion. In my case (and I suspect my father's if he was ever told) I was not so much overwhelmed as angry at the denial of the obvious. When I was checking the public library in January 1972 and taking with the doctor at the Barbados Hilton in February 1972 my father was from all appearances quite healthy. I was suspicious because my mother had a lot of "I don't knows" to her answers. She was an extremely intelligent 39 year old woman and I expected, if anything, more curiosity.  To give her the benefit of the doubt she wanted to live in denial, and buy the doctor's "happy horse-s**t. That would be understandable. And our GP's reticence may have been from not knowing when the recurrence would strike and be obvious. Also totally understandable and possibly acceptable.

What is less understandable and possibly acceptable were the lies once the recurrence became symptomatic. My understanding is that from July 1972 on he was going down like a hammer, even though he was on the tennis courts until early October.  Loss of appetite, problems with the working of the colostomy and various migrating pains in fact made clear that the end was near. His pointed questions to the doctor and my mother were met with flat-out lies. So were mine, though from reading I "knew the score." Thus, when I was told on December 15, 1972 I basically said "duh" and "tell me something I don't know. That is why I insisted on going ahead with my plans for the night, which were to play tuba at the high school for the winter concert.

By the way, today is the 45th anniversary of his passing.
Trump - Watch what he does, not how he says it.

====================
 If it's us or them, I choose us

Offline Goddess

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 817
Quote
By the way, today is the 45th anniversary of his passing.

You were quite young to lose your dad.  The circumstances and the way it was handled were also sad.    :'(
Wishing you comfort and strength.  (( HUG ))
"A religion without a Goddess is half-way to atheism."

Offline JBG

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 180
  • Left-Wing Democrat (similar to NDP)
  • Location: New York area
...45 Years Ago Today
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2018, 09:10:16 pm »
...in the wee hours of the morning, my father passed away after his battle with cancer. The trip to the Jewish funeral home was beyond disgusting. Seeing my mother and I, both red heads (coincidence) sitting there the guy said "you know, this is a Jewish funeral home." Then he tried to convince us to buy a casket that was more expensive than we needed, for a cremation. Flatly against Jewish custom if not law. Now lets stop with the bad things.

28 years ago tomorrow, I met my (now) wife for the first time. She is the love of my life. The moral of the story; good things follow bad things.
You were quite young to lose your dad.  The circumstances and the way it was handled were also sad.    :'(
Wishing you comfort and strength.  (( HUG ))
Thanks.

The silver lining was that my mother met my stepfather-to-be a little more than a month later. 40 good years with him; longer than I had with my Dad.
Trump - Watch what he does, not how he says it.

====================
 If it's us or them, I choose us
Like Like x 1 View List

Offline BC_cheque

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1044
In high school one of my friends had an alcoholic father.  He used to sit in a chair and drink bottles of vodka.  Her mom had remarried and made husband a priority so my friend spent her teenage years living with her dad in a neglected two bedroom apartment. 

One day as he sat drinking in his chair he stopped living.  Just like that.  My friend cried for years after and even though I don't see her anymore, I'm friends with her on FB and she is always posting pictures of him and mourning his death to this day. 

At first I didn't understand her grief given his parental capacity but over the years I've realized what an incredible need in us it is to have parents.  Even if they are completely non-functional, somehow that bloodline creates an unshakable need in us.

I've chatted with you about this JBG and I know you carry a lot of pain with you after all these years.  Even with a tremendous step-father I'm very sorry you've lived with this great void all your adult life.

Just continue holding your children and loving them and not taking a moment you have with them for granted.

Offline JBG

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 180
  • Left-Wing Democrat (similar to NDP)
  • Location: New York area
In high school one of my friends had an alcoholic father.  He used to sit in a chair and drink bottles of vodka.  Her mom had remarried and made husband a priority so my friend spent her teenage years living with her dad in a neglected two bedroom apartment. 

One day as he sat drinking in his chair he stopped living.  Just like that.  My friend cried for years after and even though I don't see her anymore, I'm friends with her on FB and she is always posting pictures of him and mourning his death to this day. 

At first I didn't understand her grief given his parental capacity but over the years I've realized what an incredible need in us it is to have parents.  Even if they are completely non-functional, somehow that bloodline creates an unshakable need in us.

I've chatted with you about this JBG and I know you carry a lot of pain with you after all these years.  Even with a tremendous step-father I'm very sorry you've lived with this great void all your adult life.

Just continue holding your children and loving them and not taking a moment you have with them for granted.
Thanks.

My stepfather really filled 99% of the void. He came along at just the right age. And I picked up three great siblings as part of the "package."

And while my father's illness wasn't lengthy it was severe, despite his efforts to keep going.
Trump - Watch what he does, not how he says it.

====================
 If it's us or them, I choose us

Offline Rue

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 835
  • The beast feeds on fear - I feast on the beast.
  • Location: inside a matrix
I was 11 when I was told my mother had leukemia. She lived with it 11 years. She told me after the diagnosis was confirmed. She was a doctor. I am 61 now. I speak for myself. Covering up such things to protect someone may be well intentioned but I prefer to be told the truth. Hiding it would have only caused other problems or issues. I would have figured it out anyways. When people are sick you know without being told.

People give off energy. If you learn to read it you understand it can tell you when death is near. It's not scary. I spent 10 years in and out of a cancer ward watching people die and feeling them leave their bodies. It is natural. It scares some.You talk to nurses, doctors, clergy, who are around dying people, they will tell you, that its natural-some people struggle  with dying and others actually do not once they are ready. Its nothing to be frightened of but it can frighten. Prior to the exit of one's energy essence or spirit or soul there can be resistance by you- but eventually you will let go-its like learing to float on water.

Death is a transference of the energy inside you that existed prior to your decision to incarnate into your human body and this 3 dimensional level of energy vibration. When it leaves your body it has a choice, reincarnate or move on to other levels of dimension. That choice is always with you. You created yourself. No one can order you to do anything. The choice of lives or life, the choice of the path you take, begins and ends with you.

People are afraid of death because they are afraid of the unknown and take the here and now third dimension they are in, as real and limiting. Its only as real and limiting  as you believe it is. Time is an illusion, so is solid matter. You chose to create those frames of reference to live within. The choice of when  to leave your human body life is up to you but it has to happen so if you wait too long it forces itself on you to let go. We all have abd have always had the final word and control and say in our individual destinies which always remain connected to everyone else's choices and their destinities. Everything is related and yet not necessarily dependent.

I have seen many people die as a child. They foundd their way out and all the things they were programmed by themselves to forget before they died come back once they leave their physical body.

How do I know this? Simple, I am dead. So are you. Being dead is just another sequence of experiencing life.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 12:26:16 pm by Rue »
You have me mistaken with an eagle. I only come to eat your carcass.

Offline JBG

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 180
  • Left-Wing Democrat (similar to NDP)
  • Location: New York area
I was 11 when I was told my mother had leukemia. She lived with it 11 years. She told me after the diagnosis was confirmed. She was a doctor. I am 61 now. I speak for myself. Covering up such things to protect someone may be well intentioned but I prefer to be told the truth. Hiding it would have only caused other problems or issues. I would have figured it out anyways. When people are sick you know without being told.

****************

I have seen many people die as a child. They foundd their way out and all the things they were programmed by themselves to forget before they died come back once they leave their physical body.

How do I know this? Simple, I am dead. So are you. Being dead is just another sequence of experiencing life.
Beautifully written. I can't say I agree on everything but you know what? That's between each individual and G-d.
Trump - Watch what he does, not how he says it.

====================
 If it's us or them, I choose us