Molenkamp’s father Alphonse A. Brazas, born 1909, died 1948.
“I’m all washed up”. These are the words spoken to my Mom, by my father, late in 1947. He had just returned from a hospital in Seattle. Mom tells me he came into their house, looked at her, and said, “I’m all washed up”.
It was supposed to be a good year. My parents lived in a little house in Northwest Washington with their three small children. The youngest was me, born that August just after my father’s 38th birthday. But Daddy wouldn’t make it to his 39th.
Daddy had had unusual symptoms, confounding the local medical community. So they sent him to Seattle, to a hospital where more tests were done.
And then the doctors in Seattle sent him home again, telling him there was nothing they could do. His cancer, a type of lymphoma, was incurable.
In February of 1948, Daddy died in his bed at home, Mom by his side. There was support from all around: grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends… Mom was not alone. But her life and ours, was changed forever by a cancer that was not treatable in those days.
I know my father only through the eyes of my family. Mom, 93 now, still tears up when she speaks of him.
My big sister tells me about our daddy, and how he bounced her and later my brother on his knee and sang “Animal Fair”.
I know that if he were to get the same cancer today, he’d still be with us.
And this is what else I know.
He should have had more birthdays. As should my stepfather, married to Mom for over 20 years, who died from liver cancer in the mid 80’s. Followed by my father-in–law, brain tumor. And my mother-in-law, cervical cancer.
I’m lucky, I’m a survivor of breast cancer, detected and treated early. I’ve gotten to sing “Animal Fair” to my two children and three grandchildren and celebrate a LOT of birthdays in our family.
And I Relay in hope that someday NO ONE will ever have to hear their loved one say, “ I’m all washed up”.