StoryCorps at SHC: Martha Berrier and Ann Weinacker
And I said Dad, now we live. And so we did. And we just took it one day at a time.
Martha Berrier (MB): I had left to go to church and when I came back he had evidently walked out the back door and fallen and scraped his arm and you said, "Oh dad, I'll take care of that." And he said, "No, Mart will do it when she gets back." (laughs). And you said, you told me that you said, uh, "Well dad, I was a nurse before I was a doctor." (laughs). And so it was really true how much our relationship had changed, where I had always relied on him, he had come to rely on me. And I think that was in some ways one of the proudest moments of my life, only because I always wanted to give back, because he'd given me so much. And I felt like I finally had because he, he saw me as someone who could take care of him.
Ann Weinacker (AW): You spent the last six months of his life living with him and taking care of him. When did you realize that's actually what you were gonna be doing?
MB: I don't think I ever realized that was what I was going to be doing per se,- ... it just kind of happened. So, I was a nurse and I was actually on contract with a hospital up in Woodland and the nurse manager allowed me to leave and da- when dad got the diagnosis that he had six weeks to live. And so I thought, "Hmm, six weeks, easy-peasy." You know, "I can do this. I, I can make this happen." And so nothing about my life stopped, but everything stopped all at the same time.
And six weeks happened, and dad looked up at me one day and said, "Well Mart, what do I do now?" And I said, "Dad, now we live." And so we did. And we just took it one day at a time. There was so much we got to do during that six months. We got to watch every single episode of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. I will never forget (laughs) either show, uh, and not think of my dad.
I had thought that it was going to be really bad with his tumor logged where it was. You had described to me what I could expect and worse case scenario was that he was going to... His aorta was gonna rupture and he had white carpet in his bedroom. So you could imagine the things that I thought of at night laying in bed.
And that morning he went over to the sink and took his teeth out to rinse them out, which was what he always did. The man didn't change his routine, no matter what. And I heard him say, "Mart," and I heard his airway close and I looked at you and said, "airway." And you grabbed the morphine so that we could put some under his tongue in case he was in any kind of pain and Michelle came and brought the wheelchair and a basin in case he got sick and sat him down and we told him goodbye, and he was gone. And, I know I cried then, but they were tears of relief in so many ways because he was okay when it was finished.
AW: I felt the same relief. It was such a, it was... good... that he, that he died so quickly and so painlessly and that you and I and Michelle, my daughter, were all three there-
AW: …for that. That, that was really special.
Sound Editor: Gabriel Maisonnave
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