Print Story I lost my stepmother today.
By ucblockhead (Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 12:31:00 PM EST) (all tags)
She will be missed.

When I was five years old, my father spent a year of public service on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation setting up the mental health system there as a way of avoiding the draft. He had just finished his residency, during which my mother mostly supported the family. For whatever reason, the marriage collapsed about the time his service ended and my parents divorced. Both my mother and father moved across the state to Aberdeen where my mother spent a year getting a Masters and a teaching credential at my father's expense. (This was the only non-child support money my mother asked of my father...they both considered it fair given how much she'd contributed towards his medical degree.) Barely able to make ends meet, she looked for cheap child care. The first woman she met, a young woman working on a nursing credential, turned out to be a bit too pricey.

It was a small town. Not long after, the young nurse to be met a young psychiatrist starting out a medical practice who was newly "divorced". (Actually the divorce would not go through for months, but no reconciliation was likely, so he can probably be forgiven.) Apparently he'd sealed the deal by saving someone's life with CPR in front of her.

So she was very quickly a presence in my life, as we kids went for the weekend visits. Then, a year later, my father moved to Rapid City and my mother moved to Austin, Minnesota, and the visits became longer, but further between.

The thing about the father did not do children well. In fact, he didn't really do guests at all, as I was to find out years later, and refused to rearrange his life at all for visitors. So most of these vacations were spent with my sister being watched and entertained by my stepmother.

At the time, they were both bikers, heavy into the Sturgis thing. She was very Irish, and looked the biker-chick part, with hip length long red hair. But they weren't typical bikers. My father was a practicing psychiatrist and she was a trauma care nurse. She was a wonderfully intelligent woman with a biting, cynical wit.

About the time I was 8 or 9, she became pregnant with my half-brother. Almost immediately after giving birth, she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease. At the time, the treatments were not so good as they are now, and the prognosis was bad. It was a near thing and at one point she was, as a Catholic, given last rites. (IIRC) But she beat it.

For whatever reason, the marriage ended. That my father had thought health insurance was a luxury while spending his doctor's income on porsches might have been part of it. More likely, it was just my father being my father. In any case, the marriage hobbled along for a few years and then died.

About this time, my father stopped having us kids come visit.

When I turned 18 I began to visit him again, and also reconnected with my brother and therefore my stepmother. She was a great person to know and so it wasn't all that surprising to want to spend time with someone who wasn't technically my relative any more. (Though I suppose the mother of my brother always would be.)

Time passed and eventually she married a wonderful guy who was pretty much everything my father wasn't. He was also pretty well off, maintaining homes both in the San Fernando Valley and Deadwood. I lived in San Diego at the time, and so would visit when I was in the area. Later, my brother, after spending part of his teenage years with my father, came to California to go to high school, so I visiting even more. My brother had a rough time in his twenties, but my stepmother seemed happy. She'd been a high-powered nurse, working in critical care units (and full of gruesome stories about the work.) She spent time in helicopters helping support patients as they went to the one hospital that could save them. But eventually, only in her early fifties, she retired. She'd enjoyed the small town hospitals but did not like the uncaring bureaucratic behemoths of LA.

And so she seemed to have a happy life. Lots of travel with her husband. Really, everything she wanted, as far as she said.

Then that bastard cancer came back. The trouble with radiation therapy is that while killing the cancer today it can lay the groundwork for cancer tomorrow. But after a double-mastectomy, she beat that, too. But the ravages of the treatments run ragged over her body. She was tethered to oxygen and very recently had some fainting spells where she had hurt herself very badly.

I last saw her about a year ago. She was as intelligent as ever but there was a sadness about her. She was realistic as only a nurse who has seen it all can be, but it was obvious she was not done with life. This morning, I got a message from my brother that she was in bad shape. He called later in the afternoon to say that she'd died.

She was only 58.

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I lost my stepmother today. | 20 comments (20 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I'm very sorry for your loss. by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 12:39:16 PM EST
My best to you and to your family.

Fuck cancer, man. Just fuck it.
If you don't get a Bonnie, my universe will not make sense. --blixco

Wow. by ana (4.00 / 1) #2 Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 12:41:39 PM EST
So sorry to hear about your loss. She sounds like an amazing person.

Power up your flaming yo-yos already! --StackyMcRacky

You have no idea by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #6 Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 01:11:52 PM EST
One of the best people I've ever met.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
peace by joh3n (4.00 / 2) #3 Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 12:46:14 PM EST

I just ate about 7 pounds of meat

sorry to hear this by R343L (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 12:47:05 PM EST
She seemed to get to do what she wanted, even when things weren't great.

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
58 is way too young by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #5 Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 12:56:58 PM EST
sorry to hear that.

She was awesome, by blixco (4.00 / 2) #7 Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 01:52:37 PM EST
because she affected you.  And the world.  And now us.
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin
We're sad for your loss. by atreides (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 03:48:37 PM EST
But at least the pain is over.

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

i bid you peace. by clock (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 04:52:28 PM EST
i'm so sorry to hear it.

I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

Damn it. by Horatio Hellpop (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 05:11:19 PM EST
Redheads are supposed to live forever. Sorry for your loss, man.

"You can't really know something until you ruin it for everyone." -some guy who used to have an account here

hug by LoppEar (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 05:43:04 PM EST
You retell a lovely remembrance of her here.


She sounds like a typical biker to me. by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #12 Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 02:54:07 AM EST
Really, the Angels/Horseman types are a minority of bikers.  Most are like her, Mr. Ha., or myself.  Middle-aged professional types.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Bikers by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #14 Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 06:17:32 AM EST
She'd long ceased to be one...this was thirty years ago, before it was quite so suburban.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
My condolences by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #13 Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 02:56:53 AM EST
It's got that you got along with her so well. She sounds cool.

It's political correctness gone mad!

Sorry to hear it by fluffy (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 08:47:01 AM EST
Why do genes have to be so easily-corruptible?
busy bees buzz | sockpuppet revolution
Ouch. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #16 Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 09:01:11 AM EST
I'm sorry to hear it. hug

58 is way too fucking young.

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

I'm so sorry by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #17 Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 09:35:46 AM EST
My thoughts are with you and your family. 

She seemed like a pretty special person.  I am sorry for your loss.

"It is virtually impossible to effectively aim a jellyfish, a creature created by God almost solely for the purpose of not flying."- CRwM

Requiscat in Pace by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 1) #18 Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 12:15:49 PM EST
She sounds like she was an exceptional person.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had it when I came in here.
Our Condolences by FlightTest (2.00 / 0) #19 Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 08:39:01 PM EST
So sorry to hear that. The time you had with her was obviously very good, but also obviously too short.

*hug* by duxup (4.00 / 1) #20 Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 01:28:02 PM EST
I lost my stepmother today. | 20 comments (20 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback