When the 2014 team met Brenda in Rockville, the First United Methodist Church was grieving the fresh loss of Sue, who was a cancer survivor in the community. Sue was a survivor of breast and thyroid cancers, but had passed away recently from a stroke. Brenda cared for Sue for four years. She was also a caregiver for six years for a woman who lost her battle with breast cancer. In caring, Brenda did her best to give love and ensure that the women had company and food. She has also lost her father in-law, a WWII veteran, to mesothelioma and her mother to dementia. Through all the grief that caregiving has brought, Brenda has depended on God and clung to the good memories with each of her loved ones.
Sue called me at 3 o’clock in the morning and said, “I wanna go home. I wanna be with my husband.” He passed away before she did. And I said, “Well, you’ll go home. You’ll see him again someday.” Little did we know that she stopped taking her medicine and she wanted to go home. And that’s really hard, with somebody close – it just really, really hurts, you know. She mourned her husband. He had Alzheimer’s. And now she’s with him. I know they’re all together now.
I couldn’t be there for her funeral. That was hard, because I didn’t get to say goodbye. But we’re getting together at the cemetery when she gets buried. She was cremated, and we’re going to have our own little memorial service in her memory. She – we had a lot of good memories of her. You know, it’s really neat. You have your memories of what we did together, as friends, and it was really cool. And you gotta think of the good times, too, as well as the bad times.
[I took away from it] a lot of emotions. A lot of crying, a lot of praying to God that they would go peacefully, which they did. I think they all went peacefully, and it’s still hard for me, but I know they’re in a better place. They’re not suffering anymore. They’re with God and they have a whole body. A body in Christ; it’s wonderful. They have all their legs and their arms and everything. They’re just walking up there in heaven. That’s what we’re all gonna do one of these days. We’re gonna have new bodies and we’re gonna be whole again.
I did everything that I could. You know, I was with them, I held their hands… I used to go over there and sit with her, because she was lonely. And you know, I took care of them the best I could. I didn’t take any money for it. I didn’t ask them for money because I knew they were not rich. You know, they were poor and they didn’t have a whole lot of money, so I had no charge, no charge at all. I did it out of the kindness of my heart. I’m glad I got to talk to you guys tonight. It really makes me feel much better. I’m not a good speaker, but I think what you’re doing is just wonderful. And I hope you make a lot of money doing it. You know, I really appreciate you guys.
Just love them. Just tell them you love them. Have strength and courage to go on. There’s a lot of cancer survivors out there. And it’s rough, it’s really rough. But just love them and take care of them the best you can, even if they get cranky or they don’t know you. That’s the worst thing. If they don’t know you and ask: “Who are you? What are you doing here? What are you doing to me?” That really hurts. That happened to my mom, too. And that’s just been a big battle. It’s getting easier. My mom’s been gone four years now – and she had dementia. She didn’t know us, and that hurt her granddaughter, my daughter Kara. She goes, “Mom, she doesn’t know us, does she?” So I said, “She’s going home to be with God.” But like I said, just be patient.
Mike Mullen Anita, IA
Marilyn Wyss Princeville, IL