Helping Hands
Happy Birthday Dad

The Last Goodbye


The photo above is from my mom's graduation from St Michael's College nursing school in Toronto when she was twenty-two.  She's seventy-three years old now and won't live much longer. 

I've said a lot of goodbye's to my mom in the last year.  She survived ovarian cancer for more than six years and three different rounds of chemotherapy.  But this past Christmas, I knew she would not last the year.  Chemotherapy wasn't working anymore and so it was just a matter of time.  My parents are very strong and they didn't want to worry anyone.  So they just quietly went down the path, worked through things, made arrangements, accepted what was happening. 

And over the last six months we've all done plenty of the same.  I've flown out to visit my parents, sometimes on red eye flights, sometimes just for a few days, to try to get more time. She outlived the doctor's predictions and and eeked out a few extra months.  But now there is no more time. 

With every trip to see my mother, I've treated it as if its the last time.  I've made sure to say everything that ever needed saying.   But even after doing that, there is always one more thing.  I can't help but think of a million questions that now can never be answered.  If we could string them all together, my mother would live forever.  But she won't and it's tearing me up inside. 

I've told my mother I love her.  I've thanked her for raising me.  I've told her all her kids turned out right.  I've told her my dad is going to be ok.  I've told her she's going to go to heaven. And yesterday I kissed her goodbye for the last time.

As much as you prepare for the last goodbye, it hurts.  It really hurts. 

Day by day you see someone you love dying in front of your very eyes.  Day by day, she is weaker.  She is less focused.  She is less there.  My mother is tiny and fragile.  She is skin and bones.  And the things that made her who she is are rapidly fading away.  Her humor, her smile, her sparkle, they are mostly gone.  She is strong willed which is good to see since that's what has allowed her to survive so long, but even that is fading.  She told me the other day that she wished she could end it.  "Getting sick is a bugger," she said.

I comforted her the best I could.  She cared for all of us over the years; I could never pay her back in a life time, let alone a few days. I showed her pictures and remind her of times when I was growing up. I recalled our camping trips, or when we used to go skiing, or visits with cousins and aunts and uncles.  She remembered them along with me.  Or seemed to.  Sometimes, she was distracted just trying to breathe.  Once in a while she was confused.  But mostly she took it all in.

She can still talk a little, but not much.  Her breathing is labored and I know it will stop at some point.  And then she will be in a better place.   



PLease except my sympathy for you and your family on these last hours of your mom's life and soon the beginning hours of your life without her physical presence.

No matter how much planning you do, the end is always traumatic and you need to be there for your dad and family and they need to be there for you.

I will keep your family in our prayers and will have others at our church prayer for you in this difficult time.

Terry (from Knoxville)


My prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. Thank you for sharing your mom's journey with us. For whatever its worth, this blog has made a difference in my life.

Your strength, as well as your mother's, is an inspiration to me.

Marcie (in MD)


I've walked down this road..with my Dad.He left this world on my mom's 74th birthday.(mom chose to look at his death on her birthday in this way.."Isn't it wonderful that GOD gave Daddy eternity on my birthday."?
It's hard to say know that you will no longer have her beautiful presence in your life.I promise you that with the passing of time..whenever you think of your mom,you'll see her in your mind's eye as vibrsant,energetic,funny,and smiling...always smiling..
May the Lord make his presence known to you and your family.
What a bittersweet thing it is be with your mother as she takes her last breath upon this earth....May you always feel her presence in your life.God Bless you all.

Lynne Bradford

I just found out about your website. I am a good friend of your Mom's, and I love her.
My last memory of your Mom is when she was walking down the fairway of the Tavistock Tournament in March. Her amazing attitude
throughout this horrible illness has been such an inspiration. If she can understand you, please tell her I am finally going to have that granddaughter. I hope it puts a smile on her face. I pray that God takes her to be with Him soon, so that the pain will end. Bob, you are in my prayers, also.
You have been such a devoted husband. I hope knowing she will be at peace will make the end a bit more comforting.
Lynne Bradford

Patti Connolly

Thank you for sharing this time with your Mom with me. She is a wonderfully strong and loving woman who always had a smile for everyone. I think of her constantly. Your family and your Mom are in my thoughts and prayers. My love to you all. Patti

Zack Urlocker

Thanks everyone for all your comments these past few days. It has been a tough time, and I appreciate everyone's positive wishes and stories about my mom.

--Mark "Zack" Urlocker

Beverly Rettinger

Thank you for this lovely tribute to your mother. I loved Mary and have had many fun days with her on the golf course, beginning back at Sabal Point. My best to your and your family during this very tough time.

Beverly Rettinger

Pat Gilligan

Thank you so much for this web site. It made me feel close to your Mom & Dad even tho I am far away. Your Mom was one of the most special people that I have ever met, you were very lucky to have her for your mom. All of you are in my prayers. Pat

Terry Balawender

Thank you for sharing your moving narration with us. What a beautiful tribute to your mother and the loving family she and your dad raised. I know she was proud of all of you and was at peace with her work in this world. We all will miss her earthly presence but her spirit lives on in all of us who were blessed to know and love her.

Glenda Carlington

My prayers go out to you and your family. I can relate to your experience as my mother has cancer also. It's heart breaking to see your mom wither away before your eyes. I have that blessed hope that one day soon Jesus will come and put an end to sickness and death. Be faithful and believe that God has gone to prepare a place for us and that He will come again and receive us unto Himself, that where He is we shall be also. God Bless.

Stephania Eckstrom

Do you guys still live in Toronto? My best friend in high school lives there too. She's very beautiful. I bet she's one of the campus crushes in her college. So how is she doing now? It's okay. Struggles make people stronger and make the family bond tighter. Remember that there's a rainbow always after the rain.

The comments to this entry are closed.