When Death Camps on Your Doorstep

I got the call from my brother Marshall in mid-March. He had house-sat for us while Peggy and I were off backpacking last summer. Then, as he has been doing for 17-years, he hit the road, heading for Arizona where he would winter. He’d come West the year before, ending his 15-years of migrating back and forth between North Carolina and Florida, as regularly as the birds. Oregon would be his new residence. Four years ago, he had fought tongue cancer in Florida, free-camping while he had extensive treatments. It was his way. I had flown in to spend some time with him. He had won that battle, a temporary reprieve that allowed him to continue to wander, which is what he loves to do.

The phone call was serious. His cancer was back. He wasn’t going to fight it. At 78, he was coming home to die. His wandering days were over. A couple of days ago I found him talking to his RV. “I know, big fellow, you want to be on the road as much as I do, but we can’t.” 

For the past two months, Peggy and I have been caring for Marshall. He is living in our back yard in his RV. It’s where he wants to die. Marshall has hospice care now and the team is excellent, providing support for us as well as him. They are warm, caring people. None of this easy. It’s incredibly tough watching someone you care for waste away and die. It may be days, or weeks, but probably not months. Each morning when I go out to visit, I wonder.

I’ve decided to check out of my blog for now, for at least a couple of months. I need the time for Marsh, and Peggy, and me. I’ll be back. My blog and my blogging friends are part of my family. Until next time, take care my friends. 


60 thoughts on “When Death Camps on Your Doorstep

  1. It’s a journey all of us will make. I’m glad Marsh has you and Peggy as traveling companions. I think your decision’s a wise one. I’ll keep you all of you in mind in the coming days, weeks, or months, and welcome you back whenever the time is right.

    • Thanks Linda. It’s the continuation of a journey that Marshall and I have been on for over 70 years. And Peggy has been here for 30. We will finish it as gently as we can. –Curt

  2. Wishing you and yours well through this trial… we’ll be here waiting for you when you return. The hospice folks I have encountered in the past have all been truly amazing folks… like none others!

  3. I’m so sorry to hear that your family is on this difficult journey, though I’m glad that you are able to be together for it. I hope it’s alright that I keep all of you in prayer- Take care, Curt.

  4. Curt thank you so much for looking after your brother Marshall. Your gift of being there for him may be difficult but the sharing will be significant. I’ve not visited the Reader in the last couple of weeks and I’m blessed to have decided to return to night and click your site even without a picture. I look forward to your return. Take and enjoy your time together. Tim

  5. Curt this is a true gift for your brother. Know that I will be thinking of all of you and sending positive energy for you and Peggy as you journey with your brother in his final chapter. May his time be peaceful and pain free. Keeping you all close in my heart.

  6. Take care. It is the hardest, and most rewarding thing we can do. Remember that care-givers need self-care. You are completely right to take a blogging hiatus–we’ll be here when you get back.

    • Thank you, AV. And it is one of the hardest things I have done, but we are glad to be here with Marsh, and he is deeply appreciative. We are taking care of ourselves, and have a wonderful hospice team working with us. –Curt

  7. Times like these are tough. Bittersweet perhaps, both in the chance to remember the good old days in a loving environment, but the sadness of knowing it must end. However much time it takes, we’ll be here waiting when you come back, and thinking good thoughts toward your family.

  8. What a gift to give and receive when you walk beside someone as they take the last steps on their life’s journey.

  9. Oh, Curt, I am so sorry for your sadness as you and Marshall and Peggy face this very difficult passage. I’ll keep you in my thoughts until we see you back here.

  10. Curt, I am so sorry to hear of Marshall’s cancer. Us wanderer’s all hope that when our days are numbered, we will know where home is and loved ones will be at our side. Hugs.

    • Thanks, Kelly. Appreciated. Marshall lived a happy life of wandering and was only sorry that he couldn’t just keep on seeing what was over the next hill. Maybe he still is…

      • That is my hope too travel far Marshall.. My family say I have it bad, I can’t stop looking at the map finding a new places to see. The gene is strong in some of us,. Hope you are well .

      • Marsh and I both got the same gene, Kelly. We come from a long line of wanderers, on both sides of our family. Whenever I am doing genealogical research in a community for my family, the first thing I look for are the pioneers. 🙂 –Curt

      • I think it is an excellent gene to have been passed down. I never regret using up hours,days weeks, months…. I have spend roaming around. You never know what the next day will bring.

  11. My heart goes out to you as you deal with life’s cruelties. We, too, have been away from our blog for a long time — volunteer work, two part-time jobs, keeping the grandchild, etc. But I wouldn’t give any of it up. Perhaps we’ll get back to blogging — just returned from a week in South Dakota (loved it!!!) — so we have pictures to post and tales to tell.

    Wishing you all the best as you help your brother and yourselves deal with life issues. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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