Aunt Kathy

My aunt is dying of cancer.

The doctors gave her one to two weeks. She’s losing strength and will die any day.

I saw her a month ago, in the hospital. Her spirit and fight remained strong.

At the time it was just another ICU stint for her, like all the other times she had spent a few days in the hospital.

Four years ago Kathy was diagnosed with stage four cancer. She was fifty-five years old. She fought it into remission enough to resume her teaching position. Unfortunately, the cancer continued to persist and her weakened body forced her to retire from a job she loved; from her life’s calling.

She’s been in and out of the hospital for various ailments, all cancer or cancer treatment related. Each time we feared it was the end, but each time Kathy rose to conquer her enemy. She did one final time a month ago.

That was her last, short-lived victory. She returned to the hospital a week ago, where the doctors pronounced the nearing end. She was moved to her son’s house yesterday, to live out what few days remained with her family.

She has accepted her fate and is ready for the end of this life. Her hope isn’t in a miraculous recovery but in meeting her Savior. And her sister. My mom passed away eight years ago. They will be reunited soon.

Kathy is only nine years older than me. We took family vacations together and I’ve spent thousands of miles in a car with her.

She lived with my mom, sister, and I for three years when I was a teenager and she was at her first teaching job. I helped her grade papers, watched her and her husband court before she got married and moved out.

The only high school activity of mine Mom ever missed was to be with Kathy when she gave birth to her firstborn. That was also the only birthday of mine she ever missed.

One of my fondest memories is of Kathy, my mom, and their sister Rhonda (there are eight siblings in all). They would sit on the living room floor, eat popcorn, peanut M&Ms, and drink Pepsi while writing stories together. They called themselves the Roth Writers (Roth was their maiden name) and mailed their stories to publishers and television scripts to the Osmonds. I don’t think I’ve ever seen three people have as much fun as they did.

This may be morbid, but her impending death makes me feel close to Mom. Any day now Kathy will be with her, which Makes Mom seem like she’s almost within reach. I suppose I am even a little jealous of Kathy. I long for the connection to my mom broken eight years ago. With Kathy, I’m so, so close.

I fought the urge today to drive to Kansas City to ask my aunt to tell Mom I said ‘hi’. I chose to let her children have these last days with her in peace without me barging in to demand Kathy be my personal messenger. I don’t know that it’s possible to send messages in that manner, but it might be. What I do know is that Kathy will give Mom a full report on her grandkids. That will make Mom smile. And that’s enough for me.

Although she’s dying much too young, my Aunt Kathy got a rare gift. She realized a year ago her time was short and she lived her final her year to it’s fullest and without regret. Seeing her fight against cancer and her approaching death I have recognized my Aunt Kathy is the strongest person I’ve ever known.

I hope one day my death touches someone’s life the way Kathy’s has touched mine.

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9 Responses to Aunt Kathy

  1. Teresa kimbrough says:

    When I attended my first family reunion I gave flowers to kathy and Rhonda because of the love and care they did in taking care of my grandma Bessie. Through my childhood years kathy and Rhonda would visit us in Colorado. My memories are of her wonderful energy and smile. God bless you Bill and you have my prayers the reunions aren’t going to be the same without kathy, and aunt Kay we are a strong and loving family.

  2. Brenda says:

    Very touching. Prayers for you and your family.

  3. Royce Mueller says:

    Please tell all off Kathy’s family they are in my thoughts and prayers. While attending Emporia State University, I lived upstairs in Marilyn’s apartment house. Kathy and your Grandmother lived downstairs. It seems like only yesterday! They are all part of my fondest memories of college. Later, Kathy and I both taught here in Yates Center. May peace be with all of you, my friends.

  4. Charlene Danford says:

    Bill, you are an amazing young (young to me) man to write such a heartfelt tribute to Kathy. I also watched her grow up. She was only 5 going on 6 when Homer and I were married. As children we spent quite a bit of time with Uncle Fred and Aunt Opal and the cousins. It was a joy to be welcomed into their home and spend time with all of them. Kathy, you and Susan were around our place a lot. Along with Jeff and Dan. We also remember the fun times we had with them and our girls. We also miss Phyllis still to this day. May the good lord surround everyone with his loving care.

    • billbushauthor says:

      Thank you for the kind words. I have many fun-filled and precious memories of Gridley and your family. I was blessed to know you and Homer and Debbie, Laura, and Karen!

  5. Kevin Swope says:

    I’m so sorry Bill !! I always thought Kathy was awesome!! My prayers go out to you and your family.

  6. She is a child full of grace, and beauty, and strength. Even when the doctors gave her the final prognosis she smiled at them and nodded in agreement. She knew it all before they told her. Our family is grieving but we are also celebrating the wonderful family we were born into. I would not trade it for the world.

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