Guest Post by J.O.B – Caregiver Part IV


Please see “Guest Post by J.O.B. – Caregiver Part I” if you need to catch up or need the link to J.O.B.’s blog.


 January 1993

Christmas was awesome. Mom felt like a Wife, a Mother, a Grandmother, and a Sister for the first time in a while. She provided holiday spirits and holiday cheer for her family. It was the most joyous time in the history of the O’Brien/Robertson family. At least what I could remember. After all, as I said, we were all together for the first time. And no matter what pain, discomfort, or fear that my Mother felt. All I can remember is the smile that was constantly upon her face.

But as New Years came, things went back to what became the new normal. Football was over and I was lifting at the gym. Dad and Bill were working their asses off. Julie was back at school. And Debbie was taking Mom to radiation therapy. Our family sort of fell into a routine. But it was about to get a lot more complicated.

I remember coming home one night in early January. It was the first week in school after Christmas break. Mom was in the Living room on her favorite chair. I sat down beside her when she hit we with it. “Could you do me a favor Honey?”, she asked. “Of course Ma, what is it?”, I replied. “Can you get me a pack of Virginia Slim Menthol Lights?”….I told her I couldn’t for obvious reasons, and that’s when I had the worst conversation of my entire life.

“Honey, I just want a cigarette”, she said. “You probably do Ma, but that’s what got us to this point to begin with. And we are still fighting”, I replied. My Mother grabbed my hand and sat me down. “Jon, radiation is over. My last treatment was over a week ago. Unfortunately it did not work, and the cancer has spread to my brain.” she said. “What does that mean?”, I asked. “Honey, we tried hard, but it didn’t work. The Cancer spread. I am so sorry to tell you this, but I am going to die. It’s just a matter of when, but in the time being I just want to live my life the way I want. But I need your help because I can’t drive.”

I couldn’t believe this shit. How could this be so final? How could this happen out of nowhere? I ripped away from her and for the first time since the diagnosis I started openly sobbing. She came up behind me, put her hands on my shoulders, and said, “Honey, I am so sorry, but I don’t want to lie to you.” “But how do you know Ma?”, I replied. “Hon, I was a nurse on the Cancer floor for thirty years. I knew the minute I received the diagnosis. I fought the best I could, but I was too far gone. And now, I just want to enjoy my days.”, she said.

As I ran upstairs to my room I could hear Ma start to whimper. I remember thinking about everything, and going to my bathroom so that I could vomit. I sat in my bed for an hour or so thinking. And then I came to a decision that I regret to this very day. I left the house,  and went to the gas station. I purchased a pack of Virginia Slim Menthol Lights. When I got home, I handed them to my Mom. She went into the basement, and I went to my room. This action would come to cause a twenty year gap in the relationship with my Father. But in the end, I was concerned about one thing. Helping my Mother live out her last days in comfort.



4 Comments on “Guest Post by J.O.B – Caregiver Part IV”

  1. Mrs. AL says:

    I admire and respect your open heart, J.O.B. The realities you have shared are important and I thank you very much !

  2. Thank You, J.O.B., for the man you were forced to become, even as a youth.
    Growing to adulthood is neither easy, nor is it for cowards. And sometimes the choices we have to make we’re not prepared to make, and they are hell.
    God Bless You~!

  3. thedrpete says:

    All any of we humans can do, J.O.B., is analyze, then do what we think is best.

  4. CW says:

    The realization that your mother was actually going to die soon must have been truly devastating, especially to someone so young.

    When I was a kid there was an old man with a drinking problem who lived across the street with his two adult sons. Sometimes he would come to our house and ask my dad to take him to the liquor store, and my at times dad would. This made the sons angry with my dad, and I asked him why he did it. He said, “Well he’s a very old man without a lot of time left and this is what makes him happy. I can’t say no.” Many years later when I had my own home I had a similar experience. The elderly man next door had emphysema, and when he returned from a stay in the hospital one time I asked if I could get him anything from the store. He asked me to get him some tobacco and rolling papers. I hesitated for a second and we both knew what I was thinking but the look in his eyes was pleading, and like my dad years before I could not say no to an ailing man’s request for the one thing that gave him comfort. The damage was already done. It was just a matter of time, and so I got what he asked for and lived with the guilt. While there’s no doubt that your dad wanted to do what was best for your mom , I don’t’ think you did anything wrong.

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