Goodbye Is Never Easy!

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“Joyce Faye”……I can still hear my Uncle Danny before he passed calling to my aunt.  We lost him two years ago to Pancreatic cancer.  It was hard on my aunt but she pulled herself together and marched on.  Only the year before my uncle passed we lost my dad.  In my mom’s times of sorrow I can remember my sweet aunt comforting her not knowing that the very next year she would experience the same grief.  This lady above was such a strong woman….probably one of the strongest I have ever known.  She was the oldest of six siblings and she became their main caregiver due to the fact that my grandmother had to work two jobs just to feed them.  My grandfather had left the home and the children for another woman and alcohol.  He would drop by time to time to check in on them but he didn’t help out much.  Aunt Joyce really never experienced childhood as she should have and dropped out of school to raise the other children.  She did whatever she could to help her mom out and as soon as she was old enough she got a job as well to help pay the bills so that her mom could quit her second job.  She told me stories not too long ago about how she would cook pinto beans and cornbread every night because in those days they were very cheap to buy.  She said mami would buy one package of cookies for the month.  She told me how she would hide them up in the rafters of the house so that the three boys didn’t eat them all in one night.  She said she used them as a bargaining tool to get the boys to help out around the house.  Growing up I spent as much time with my aunt as I did my own mom. She would come to the house and bring my cousin Jason and we would play for hours and of course I would just end up going home with her.  I can remember the old farmhouse that she lived in and I can still smell that old wood burning stove.  I loved it at her house because there was such a freedom in living out in the country.  She would let me ride the four wheelers or go squirrel hunting with my cousins.  She had three boys and she loved them all so much!  My youngest cousin was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age three.  He nearly died before the age of 5.  I can remember the diabetic comas he would sink into but she never gave up.  She made him special meals and gave him insulin shots three times a day.  I can remember thinking “How does she know what foods to give him?” She was involved in a car accident when I was young.  A woman crossed the yellow line and hit her head on.  I remember the phone call and how empty I felt when I thought she wouldn’t make it.  She fought on.  She went through physical therapy for over a year but she regained all of her physical ability.  That was the year she gave up smoking.  She had smoked since she was 8 years old!! She used to tell stories about sneaking out behind the shed and smoking….until her and my mom burnt it down!  When my brother was diagnosed with leukemia she rushed to our sides and there she stayed until the very end.  She kept me when my parents had to be gone for weeks at a time.  She comforted me and held me just like my mom would.  When my house burnt when I was only 12 she rushed in to care for me then as well.  It was January and we lost everything including all of our Christmas presents.  She took me out and bought me new clothes and toys just to replace the things I lost.  Over the years she remained the glue that held all of our family together.  She planned family dinners so many times a year and for holidays.  When her father came back around and asked for forgiveness she was the first to give it.  A few years later we learned he had prostate cancer and she took on the role of caregiver again.  My mom and her would take turns taking him for treatments.  They cared for him until his last breath.  Time and time again this woman stepped up to the plate and always made things better.  When I got pregnant at age 18 she didn’t put me down or fuss at me…she supported me.  She had been there herself.  She never judged…never!  After her son’s wife left him with three kids to raise on his own she took those babies in and supported them.  She made sure they had food on the table and decent clothes to wear.  She fought for those girls and she loved them with every ounce of her soul.  Losing her husband broke her heart in two.  I saw such a sadness in her eyes that I had not seen before.  I knew it affected her more than she would let us know.  She just had to remain the “strong” one for her sons and the grandchildren.  Back in 2010 when my mom had her car accident I saw my aunt cry.  This was the first time I had ever seen actual tears fall down her face.  I will never forget the night at the trauma center after they told us my mom wouldn’t make it 24 hours.  She walked over to me and hugged me so tight I could barely breathe.  She whispered in my ear that everything would be okay.  She told me that even if mom didn’t make it that I would never be alone.  She said she would help take care of me and my kids.  She was my strength through that whole tragedy.  She is the one person who stood by my side and helped me care for my mom.  She helped me care for her and when we brought mom home she was right there with me.  She has continued to care for my mom even as sick as she has been.  We found out months ago that she had lung cancer.  She had found swollen nodes in her thighs and went to the doctor.  She kept it quiet for over six months and didn’t tell anyone.  She didn’t want my mom to worry about her.  She continued to see my mom every day…bringing her food, clothes, and anything my mom asked for.  Once she decided to tell everyone she was halfway through her chemotherapy treatments.  They told her that they got it all and she had at least a good five years to live.  About a month ago she became very ill at home.  She began vomiting non-stop and became so weak she couldn’t leave her house.  My uncle went to check on her and found her collapsed in the floor.  The ambulance was called and it was then that she would take her last ride.  She was admitted and they found that the cancer had spread to her brain.  She had masses all over her brain.  How did this happen when they had just given her a clean bill of health?  She never left the hospital.  That didn’t stop her from caring for my mom.  She would walk down to the nursing home part of the hospital and visit with my mom and when she was too weak to walk she would have the nurses bring my mom up to see her.  Tonight the nurses came and got my mom and told her Aunt Joyce was dying.  My mom sat next to her big sister and held her thin weak hand until she took her last breath.  Mom called me at 7:30 pm and told me she was gone. I had went to visit her on Sunday and I knew in my heart that I would never see her alive again.  I kissed her head and told her I loved her.  Now, I sit here crying and once again feeling my heart break.  It seems like every time I lose someone they take a little piece of me with them.  I hate death.  I hate cancer.  I hate that I am not going to be able to call my aunt ever again.  I understand it is life……it goes on…..no matter what.  That doesn’t ease the sting of the pain.  The next few days are going to suck…big time.  I went and picked up my mom from the nursing home and brought her home with me.  She is grieving herself to death.  It sucks to see your mom cry. Nothing I can do.  Nothing!  So tonight I whisper out into the universe “I love you Aunt Joyce…now it is your time to rest….you don’t have to be strong anymore!”

8 thoughts on “Goodbye Is Never Easy!

  1. Wow. I have no words to say other than that really sucks and I hope you can take a part of your aunt Joyce with you everywhere you go. I am sorry to hear of all your tragedies but it sure seems like because of this woman it all worked out. You paid a beautiful tribute to her.

    • Thank you! She was an amazing person and she has taught me that I can be as strong as I need to be despite the obstacles. Big hugs xoxo
      Becca

  2. My heart goes out to you and your Mom. I have lost everyone of my aunts and uncles. They were such a big part of my life. It still hurts that I can’t talk to them.

    • Connie, Thank you for reading. Sorry I haven’t responded. I just have been bombarded with schoolwork and kids. I appreciate your comment. I totally understand your grief. I have lost so many precious people. I still cry over my brother and he has been gone since 1989! Big hugs!
      Becca

    • Thank you so much! Haven’t been on in a few weeks!!! Seems everything has just been so crazy. I appreciate you taking time out to read this! xo

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