A Trilogy of Misfortune

The Members of  the Trilogy
Rhoda (The Mother of Ruth, the Grandmother of Sara)
Ruth (The Daughter of Rhoda, The Mother of Sara)
Sara (The Daughter of Ruth, the Granddaughter of Rhoda

In July of 2008, I wrote a good-bye letter to my sister-in-law Rhoda. She was in hospice and died of pancreatic cancer within a day or two. A link to my letter to her is: Dear Rhoda. You will read in the preamble that she had one daughter and a granddaughter left behind that she felt responsible for their welfare.

I don’t remember the first time I met her daughter Ruth, but it was in Montreal where she lived with her parents. In a short time her parents were divorced and Rhoda moved with her to Florida. By the time M and I moved to Florida a whole lot of “not so pleasant history” had been created. Ruth and I saw each other a lot in Florida and I realized she was very smart, wickedly funny and self centered. Many of her problems started when she was a small girl in Montreal where I believe she made up her mind that her Mother owed her for her misfortunes.

Unfortunately, in the early 80’s Ruth became pregnant and was married. The marriage didn’t last long and after the divorce, Ruth, with Rhoda’s help, tried to maintain some type of home life for the daughter. The years were difficult for Ruth since she had many physical problems. In particular Crohn’s disease which worsened with each year that passed

Her health was always precarious simply because she refused to follow a suggested diet plan to control the Crohn’s. She always preferred eating hot dogs, donut, spicy food and deep fried food that aggravated the Chrohns. Eventually she had a total exoneration and afterward gave little thought that it was time to make some changes.

About two years ago, Ruth developed pancreatic cancer. At that time, she could have had surgery so that she could live. She refused surgery and never wanted to acknowledge that she had a cancer that would kill her. Two days before she died she told M she was going home and that once she was there she would be fine.

Ruth died and it is sad to say that we are not sure if there was any type of burial. It is even sadder that she wasted her life so successfully.

Ruth’s daughter, Sara, was a manic depressive. She, like her mother was bright. Sara tried to make something of her life, but it was too difficult. The last years she lived with Pete who was at least 2-3 times her age. I never met him, but photos show him old and grizzly. Pete smoked endlessly and found he had fully developed lung cancer. He never told Sara he had cancer, but promised her that he would make sure she always had their condo to live in.

Pete died. Sara was alone, depressed and sad to have lost Pete. She wrote sad love poems to him and posted them on Facebook. Pete was the only person she ever had that she could depend upon. Her mourning never lessened and one day, her father let himself into her condo and found her slumped over her computer. We are sure she took something to stop the paint.

I could write more. I won’t. It is so unusual that within a few short years three related people died, two Mothers, one a grandmother and a daughter that was also a grandchild. We often speak about this trilogy of death. We understand the why’s of each person yet it leaves us with an odd feeling when you know nothing could ever have changed the destiny of this family.


One thought on “A Trilogy of Misfortune

  1. Thank you Frank for your kind and generous comments about my mother, sister and niece. I still have a voice recording of my mother leaving a message on my service. Unfortunately it is very short but it helps me to retain my memory of her.
    About a week before she died I talked to her on the phone and she said “You know I don’t want to die but if I have do I’m OK with that, I’ve done what I wanted in this life”. She was at peace.

    I talked to Ruth on the phone also about a week before she died and knowing that I spent some time working with people who were in the process of dying asked me what it would be like. I don’t remember what I said but just tried my best to reassure her and that she would pass very peacefully.

    Sara’s death was a huge shock. It was something I never considered. I tried a number of times to help I had tried a number of times to help her get on a healthy diet and encourage her with her studies. She was very bright. I probably could have done more. I don’t know.

    My daughter, Cora brought great joy to my mother in the years before she died. When she came to visit Vancouver they were inseparable. I still talk with Cora about those times and how much she misses her grandmother.


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