Just Us Girls

Just Us Girls

...one SMC's adventures in single motherhood.

Monday, July 19, 2010


"This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it." Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)

I just stumbled upon this quote in the comments of someone else's blog, and I really love it! So I hope that no one minds that I am borrowing it for this post.

Someone recently asked me how my summer has been going, and the word that came to mind was "mixed". We have received some very difficult news in my family. My father's sister's husband is my Uncle Paul, an amazing, dear man who is husband to my Aunt Judy and wonderful father to my four cousins: Jen, Jon, Kate, and Elizabeth. About a month ago he began coughing up blood unexpectedly, so he and my aunt saw their doctor, had some tests run, and received some shocking news. Carcinoma was found in both of his lungs, in and below his liver, and possibly in his gallbladder as well, and on June fifteenth, my Uncle Paul was officially diagnosed as having cancer. Paul is also diabetic, which definitely threw yet another wrench into the works. Judy and Paul live near Roanoke, Virginia, so after having the tests done at UVa in Charlottesville, he began a course of chemotherapy there as well. The plan was to do a week of chemo followed by a week off for his body to recover, rinse and repeat. It was tough on both of them...chemo is never easy, and Paul had a hard time keeping food down. With anti-nausea medication, though, things definitely improved, and after his chest tube was able to be removed, he was allowed to go home. He was sent home with
a walker to help get around, a slew of prescriptions, home health and PT set up, and appointments with local docs set up as well. With each round of chemo (if this round didn't work, there were two other types of chemo they could try) came an expected minimum of three months more with his family, so we were cautiously hopeful.

My Uncle Paul passed away last Wednesday.

It hardly registers in my mind. My cousin Jon and Aunt Judy were with him at home when he began to pass blood, so they took him to the local hospital, where he received three units of blood and began to feel better. But shortly before seven that evening, he had another lower GI bleed and slipped away. One day short of one month after he was diagnosed with cancer. SO fast. Interestingly enough, the doctors aren't completely convinced that his GI bleed was even related to the cancer, but apparently cancer and/or chemo can cause problems with blood clotting as well.

I'm so thankful that Aunt Judy and Jon were with him, especially considering that Jon will be getting married on August seventh, and all three of them had fervently hoped that Paul would somehow be able to attend. I am also thankful that all four kids were able to visit and spend time with their Dad before he passed. But the reality is staggering: Uncle Paul was only 66...so much time still to be spent with his family and his four precious grandkids. I was able to visit with him and Aunt Judy last Thanksgiving, and I really wish I had known at the time that he only had a measly nine more months left. Not that it's ever possible, but I still wish I had known somehow.

So it looks like we'll be leaving New York a little earlier than we had planned in order to attend the memorial service on the 31st in Virginia. We were already set to roadtrip down to Tennessee around August third for Jon's wedding, and I can hardly believe that Uncle Paul won't be there. Like I said, it still doesn't compute. The sadness certainly does, though...I haven't been sleeping well since we found out late Friday night that he had passed away, and every morning when we do wake up it hits me again like a ton of bricks. Uncle Paul is the first family member besides my three grandparents to pass away, the first of my parents' generation. One thing I'm sure of is that he is now with my precious Nana, whose first words to him probably were, "Well, what took you so long?!" and my grandpa, watching over us down here. They're probably playing cards together.

Rest in peace, Uncle Paul. I love you.


  1. Oh Heather, I am so sorry to hear of your loss...my heart goes out to you & your family during this time of grief.

  2. I am so sad for your entire family. The photos brought tears to my eyes; I can see how much this man loved his family. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I'm so sorry, Heather. I'm sure you all thought you had so much more time left with him. The pictures of your uncle say a lot--clearly a happy man who loved his family very much.
    Big hug--

  4. I am so very sorry about your uncle. He has such a kind look about him in the photos you posted. Your post makes me want to know him.

    Take care of yourself.

  5. Aw, thank you, Girls! I feel the same way about the pictures...they really do seem to reflect who he was and how he felt about his family. We leave next Wednesday for the memorial service and my cousin Jon's wedding.

    Thank you all so much for your kind words!!!

  6. Just reading this now. I am sorry to hear this sad news. Wonderful and touching pictures.

  7. Sorry to hear of your family's loss. May your uncle rest in peace.