Caring for a Co-Parent

It’s one thing to care for a child day in and day out, but imagine enduring a tragic turn of events that requires that you also tend to the needs of a dying spouse.

For Carole Falconbridge, honoring her wedding vows, to have and to hold in sickness and in health to death do her part, from her beloved husband Dean, became even more challenging when the man she adored was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

But that was only half of her daily heart break.

According to the 33-year-old wife and mother, the task that crippled her with the most pain was reminding the father of her children (sometimes up to three times a day) that he was dying.

“The position of the brain tumor was affecting him in a similar way to Alzheimer’s, Carole told reporters in the United Kingdom. “He would wake up and say, “that must have been some night!” and I would have to tell him all over again.”

Carole says there were times she tried to mask the truth, but her engineer spouse would prod her when he thought she was hiding something from him, so she had to break the news of his impending death multiple times throughout the day.

According to the mom of two young daughters: “That was so hard. For the first week in hospital I had to tell him three times a day, then for about four months it was once every couple of days.”

To add insult to injury, while Carole was dealing with her husband’s health problems, she learned that both her mother and her grandmother were also dying of cancer.

Last June Dean lost his nine-month battle with the brain tumor and nine months later, Carole’s mom died of pancreatic cancer. Now, the heartbroken mom, who lives in Hemlington, Middlesbrough, carries on alone with her two daughters, Ebony, 11, and Eleanor, 8.

This story was shared with me while I was dining with my family yesterday at a wonderful Mother’s Day brunch… and I still can’t stop thinking about it.

Typically, the day after Mother’s Day is a let-down for most moms. After being made queen for the day, it’s back to the grind, washing dishes, picking up toys and wiping dirty bottoms. However, the next time the stress and monotony of motherhood pushes you to the edge, consider Carole Falconbridge’s story. I have a feeling your mood might change for the better.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.