We kept them busy but we all survived and all four boys achieved college degrees, married and had children of their own and enjoyed successful careers. We grew up and went our separate ways as kids do. Grandkids and great-grandkids followed. For reasons not totally clear to me, my parents chose to retire in Farmington in 1988. I like to say it was because I was their favorite son and I live here. But my brothers may have issues with that assessment. Regardless, my wife and two daughters were blessed to have them here and we spent a great deal of time with them. I even took up golf and made frequent trips to the San Juan River just to spend more time with my Dad. After a lifetime of frequent moves due to my father's profession as a mining construction engineer, Farmington was home for them.
I'm sure I am not the first person, nor will I be the last, to hear these words: "The cancer has spread" or "I'm sorry to have to tell you this butÉ" In less than a year, I heard both of those statements. My father's prostate cancer had spread and my mother was diagnosed with a terminal tumor in her brain. Two once very healthy and active people were told their days on earth were few. As their health continued to deteriorate we faced decisions many children of aging parents face; those concerning caring for our parents. The very people who once took care of our daily needs when we were infants now needed us to do the same for them. We did what many faced with this situation do so we looked at assisted living facilities, nursing homes, in-home care and all the rest. Since my parents were still very mentally alert, we asked them what they wanted. The answer was simple, they wanted to spend the time they had remaining in the home they had lived in the longest.
My oldest brother, who lived in Colorado at the time, and I were fortunate to be retired and had the ability to care for them and we decided we would do our best to honor their request. Along with the help of our loving wives, at least one of us was always with them. Guardian Angel Hospice helped us along our journey. The city's "Meals on Wheels" program came to the rescue to insure my parents had good food to eat. Together, we did what we could to make them as comfortable as possible. The days of sharing a tea bag with breakfast were gone but my Dad continued to kiss my Mom "Goodnight" before he retired at the end of each day. The time came when my mother was confined to her bed and a few weeks later my father's physical strength required him to remain in bed as well. We cleared out furniture and moved his bed into her room and they were together again. Not long after the two were together in one room, my father passed away peacefully one morning this last May. My brother and I were there holding his hand. Later that same day, my mother quietly joined him in Heaven as we also held her hand. Their promise to each other on their wedding day was fulfilled, but death did not part them. The boys like to think that Dad had gone ahead to get things ready just as he had in the 18 other moves they endured over their married life.
The Hospice staff, funeral home and even the estate attorney from Albuquerque with many years of experience had never heard of a married couple that died of natural causes on the same day. We like to think of it as the ultimate love story. Together for over 60 years, they could not stand to be apart even for one day. Was it difficult to lose both of your parents in the same day? Of course it was. Was it a gift from God? We are convinced it was. Just as in the fairy tale, they continue to live happily ever after.