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Jessica Trester

Family Story
September 28, 2015

Anyone that knows me knows how important family is to me. Growing


up I was told that I had a big family. I do, at least on my moms side. My
dads side of the family was small. It was my grandma, grandpa, uncle, and
my dads uncle. My grandma died when I was 7 and after that I didn't really
see my grandpa or uncle. And I never really had any relationship with my
dads uncle. Id only see him when my dad would drag me over to their
house.
Summer before my sophomore year of college was one of the best
summers of my life. But on August 4th we were giving the news that my
grandfather was in the hospital. He was in ICU, blood clots in his leg, no big
deal. When my dad and I went to see him we found out that his lungs were
filling up with liquid. We didn't how bad he was. Then the phone calls were
made, my grandfather's sister was on her way to Connecticut from South
Carolina. It was pretty bad. August 8th, we are all gathered in the hospital
room, it was only a matter of time. Dad and I needed a break; the room was
full of people crying, morning a man who was still alive. We knew it was
coming to an end but he was still alive. My mom calls my phone, asks where
we are and tells me that while we were walking that my grandfather had
taken his last breath.
It turns out that he had cirrhosis of the liver. I didn't have a good
relationship with my grandfather; he was a man who would send me checks
on my birthday and Christmas. I loved him though. He was my family, my

dad's stepfather. When I was little my grandfather was around, I didn't


understand how he could shut off his family until the first day I saw him in
the hospital. I went to see him the day that he was moved out of ICU into a
normal room. He said "I love you...I love you." My dad and I don't think that
he was saying it to me or him, but to my grandmother. The rest of my
summer was spent in the trailer where I spent my childhood, before my
grandmother died. We walked into the trailer and it was like we stepped back
in time. Everything was left the way my grandmother had it. There were
pictures of me and my brother from when we would take Christmas card
pictures. On the refrigerator was a picture that I had drawn one day while my
grandmother was watching me after school.
I got a break from family and the sadness of losing my grandfather
when my sophomore year started. I was surrounded with the friends that had
become my second family and the new friends I had made. I was happy
again. This again changed when my dad called me early October telling me
that my uncle was getting bad. The last week of October I get a call from my
dad. "Jess, I'm not going to be able to make it up for your birthday. Uncle
Kevin is being moved to a nursing home on it." I was okay with that, I figured
I would have many more years of him seeing me on my birthday. When my
uncle was moved to the nursing home we knew the end was near. I had
planned to go home the following weekend to say my final goodbye to my
uncle, to tell him I love him and that would not change no matter what. My
dad had taken that week off. He would sit with my uncle to try and make him
smile. He watched as my uncle suffered, as the nurses would give him more
and more morpheme to help ease his pain. He passed away early in the
morning on November 7th. I never got to say my goodbye to him. He knew I
was going to come home the next day. My dad said that he couldn't take
seeing his brother suffer anymore and told my uncle that I couldn't make it
back home to see him for a while and that I would be okay and understand if

he didn't hold on anymore. My dad told me that after he told my uncle this
that he had taken three more breaths and then passed away.
I know my dad did what was best for my uncle, I am mad that I did not
get to say goodbye to him. I don't know who I am mad at for it; I can't put
blame on anyone. I was making my uncle proud by being in school. When
trying to get money for my sophomore year of college my uncle offered to
give me twenty dollars to help me pay. It was all the money he had to his
name at the time and said that if he had the ability to he would have signed
a loan for me.
In September of 2012 my uncle was diagnosed with stage four cancer.
He had been going to doctors for a sore throat for a few months when they
finally decided that they would do a blood test. The blood test showed that
he had cancer. Following the blood test, they did other tests which lead to his
diagnosis of stage four cancer in his liver, lungs, and lymph nodes,
esophagus, and throat. When he first found out he said he wasnt going to
try and fight it, he didnt see the point. He went from not wanting to fight it
to wanting to fight it, he kept changing his mind throughout the last year of
his life. Its hard not to wonder if he would have been able to beat it if he had
the fighting spirit consistently from the beginning. A service was held for him
the Thursday following his death but I was unable to attend it because I had
classes. I wanted to be there but I know that my uncle would have wanted
me to be in school rather than missing my classes for him.
Now here I was, less than a year later, going through the illness of my
father. June 23 he was diagnosed with cancer. We were told that they had
found it early. We listened to the doctor that spotted the cancer and did
everything quickly. On June 25, a liver biopsy was done. This confirmed the
cancer diagnosis. We were given the results that day. The following week we
had an appointment with an oncologist. After doing more test we learned
that the cancer was in his lungs and had spread to his liver. There was also a

tumor in his left shoulder and a tumor that was suffocating the blood vessels
in his spine. All of this was found in a week. We met with the oncologist on
July 9. She told us that the best treatment plan was radiation for two weeks
and then chemo. It would be an aggressive treatment. On July 10 he had his
first radiation treatment. July 11th was the day that my life was really
affected by my father being sick. After his radiation he was asked to stay so
they could follow up with him about how he was doing. The wait took forever
and you could see my father growing more and more tense. When we finally
got to leave the hospital he could not get out of there fast enough. We barely
left the hospital when the stroke started. His cigarette fell out of his mouth
twice and his speech was mumbled. My cousin went to turn the car around to
bring him back but, he yelled at us to bring him home, we listened. When we
got to his house I went to grab his mail, when he asked me what was there,
what came out of his mouth could not be understood. I wanted him to get
back in the car so we could take him to the hospital. He wouldn't go. I called
911. Thankfully the first responders were able to get to my house within 5
minutes. Everything happened so quickly after that. My mom, brother, and I
had to make a choice on whether or not to have the doctors give my dad a
drug to help stop the stroke and prevent any further brain damage. We
choose to give him the drug. The ER doctor told us that in a healthy person
there was a 6% chance of fatal internal bleeding but because of how sick my
dad was that the chance of him bleeding out was increased greatly. Although
there was a high chance of him not making it through the night my brother
and I knew what my dad would want. If there was a chance of keeping him
from being a vegetable we had to take it. My mom went to talk to the
oncologist but wouldn't tell my brother and me what she had asked her. A
few days later, after the most critical time, I asked my mom again what she
had asked Doctor Z. My mom told me that she asked what the chance of my
dad making it through the night was, and that it was less than 6% that he
would make it. He was in ICU for three days on July 14th he was moved to the
rehab wing of the hospital. He was making great improvement for the time

that had passed. He would have physical therapy, occupational therapy, and
speech therapy. After 14 days in the rehab wing he was able to be moved out
of the hospital and into a nursing home. So on the morning of July 28th I
drove to the hospital so that I could take him to the nursing home. Although
it was not the home he wanted to go to he was one step closer to being able
to go back to his house. The doctors wanted him to be somewhere where he
could get help if he needed it since his communication skills were not fully
there.
Over the next two weeks I would spend all my time with my dad in the
nursing home. He liked to be outside. It made him feel like he had more
freedom. On days when he had doctors appointments I would help him into
the car and struggle to get his wheelchair into the back seat. He would see
me struggling and smirk at me because he thought it was funny. Thinking
back to it, it was probably funny to watch me try to get it in. His best friend
from work would come and see him when he got out, we would get my dad
into his friends car and go for a drive just so he could see something other
than the nursing homes property and the same roads to the hospital. On
August 7th I had my friend who is a hairdresser come to the nursing home to
give my dad a haircut. He needed one badly. This was one of the last days
that my dad was doing pretty good. The following day I went to see my dad
he was a little bit tired but overall okay, I didnt stay very long because I was
going out to dinner with my family for my aunts birthday. My brother
stopped by the nursing home to see him before meeting us at the restaurant,
but my brother never made it there. While my brother was there the nurse
ran a blood test on my dad. His platelet count was dangerously low and he
needed a blood transfusion. My brother went to the hospital with my dad. My
dad was in the hospital again for a few days for observation and to keep a
close watch on his platelet count. It seemed to be increasing and on August
14th they were going to discharge him back to the nursing home. However,
my dad could not feel his left foot. It turned out that he had a blood clot in

his lower leg. All they could do for him was give him something for the pain
since his platelet count was still too low for them to give him a blood thinner.
They were able to discharge him the next day since there was nothing more
that the hospital could do that the nursing home couldnt do.
For the next few days, all my dad did was sleep, it was almost
impossible for anyone to get him to wake up. The sleep was good for him
though because his platelet count rose enough during this time for the
nurses to be able to start giving him the blood thinner. On August 20th we
had a meeting with people from the nursing home and hospice. It was
decided that he fit the qualifications to be under hospice care. This was one
of the hardest things to hear. He was moved to a different room. Im not sure
if it was because he was being monitored more frequently or what it was but
as the days went on he went back to being awake more and more and by
August 24th he was awake most of the day. I was afraid to go see him alone
because the man I was going to see was no longer my father, since he had
become to weak for therapy, his was barely able to move and it was a
struggle to see him wanting to do things and not being able to. I would go at
night when my mom was out of work. It gave me a reason to leave and not
stay. I hated not seeing him all day. He gave me one last good week before I
moved back to Boston for school. I moved in on Saturday August 30th, classes
didnt start until Wednesday. Things were looking up a little for him. At least
thats what it seemed from what my mom was telling me. Tuesday night
when my mom and brother were visiting my dad my brother called me from
the nursing home so I could talk to my dad. He could talk a little although it
was hard to understand what he was saying. When I said hi to him he told
me he was lost. It was the clearest thing that came out of his mouth. I told
him it was okay and asked him where he was trying to go, maybe I could
help him. He just told me he didnt know. I told him its okay and that his
heart will tell him where it is that he was supposed to go. I was on the phone
with him for maybe five minutes and I just kept telling him that I loved him.

He would tell me he loved me too. My brother took the phone and told me
that my dad was tired. I knew this was true since it was late at night and my
dad would usually be asleep by 8pm. But something inside me didnt feel
right, I texted my brother asking if I should come home Thursday after my
classes so I could see him one last time. He told me he didnt think I had to;
when I asked my mom later that night she had told me the same thing. But
when trying to go to bed and during my classes that was the only thing I
could think about, was going home to see him. When I called my mom after
my second class she asked me if I was alone. Just from that question, I knew
that something was up; my mom doesnt like to give me bad news when I am
alone. She told me that hospice had called her and told her that my dad had
a couple hours to a couple of days left. I went home that day. I slept in the
nursing home by my dads bed until Sunday morning, my mom wanted me to
go back to school and I knew that my dad would want me to. I didnt want to
leave his side but I knew it was what I had to do. My mom went and saw him
Monday night, she told him how I was back up at school and that I was
happy. It must have been what he was waiting for. He never woke up Tuesday
morning; the roommate that he had said that he had never heard my dad
sleep so peacefully before. My mom went to the nursing home and sat with
his body until it was moved. We promised my dad that we would not let him
be alone when it happened. Although we were not able to keep that promise
because it happened while he was asleep, my mom kept it after by sitting
with his body.
When my dad died I lost so much more than just my father. I lost my
best friend and the only person I trusted in this life. Everyone has that friend
that they can tell everything to, the things that they cant tell to their
parents, but to me that person was my dad. He never judged me and loved
me no matter what. When I was little he treated me like a father should treat
a daughter but as I grew up he treated me more like I was a friend and did
the same with my brother. He wanted us to have someone we could go to

about anything no matter how bad it was. There were things that I kept from
my dad but it wasnt because I didnt feel comfortable telling him. I just
didnt think he needed to know. My dad would drive to Boston to pick me up
if I wanted to go home for a weekend. I could call him on a Thursday night
and tell him I wanted to go home and he would be in Boston on Friday to get
me if he had the gas to do so. He would do anything for me and my brother
even if it meant that he had to go without something.
I am trying to honor my father by staying in school, by going to classes. I
dont want to let him down by not going but some days its hard to even get
out of bed. I want him to be proud of me more than anything. I would always
ask him if he was proud of me and if he loved me. I knew the answer would
always be a yes anytime I asked him but I liked hearing him saying it. I have
not been able to hear him say he loves me normally since July 10, 2014. I
went from hearing him say it to me at least once a day to not being able to
hear it at all.
Its crazy to think that in a little over a year an entire side of my family
disappeared. There is so much history that I wasnt able to find out about.
So many stories that I will never be able to hear. So many I love yous that
werent said and now cant be said.
If this experience has taught me anything it is that family is the people
that are there for you through the tough times. Blood doesnt make someone
family, the people who should have been there and are family by blood were
some of the people that werent there.

Reflection:
Sitting down to think about what story I wanted to tell the class was a
challenge. We dont really share stories with each other unless asked about a
specific thing. I couldnt choose between two different stories, this one and
one that would have been taken from a letter written by my greatgrandmother about our family. Although I could have told multiple stories
from this letter there would be details missing that I wouldnt feel right
making up and I couldnt figure out the voice I would want to tell it from. The
story that I chose about my dad, uncle, and grandfather is a story that Ive
been needing to tell. I have told friends about it but never all at once.
Through thinking about this story and how it has effected me, it made me
realize that a good family is something that is unbreakable. It is the people
who are there for you when your world comes crashing down.
The process of telling this story was a lot harder than it was to write it
out. When telling my story in class I had to worry about making sure the
words came out clearly, that I wasnt talking to fast, and was doing
everything in my power not to cry while talking about the death of my family.
When it came to writing it out I was able to take my time more, to take a

break from writing it if I needed to. I didnt have the pressure of other people
hearing my thoughts as they were coming from my mind. If I forgot to add
anything in it, I was easily able to go back and just add it in without anyone
but me knowing that I had forgotten it. When typing out the story the words
seemed to just flow out.
In general, it is easier for me to write something and to share it as
written work than it is for me to present it. I hate speaking in front of groups
and having people pay attention to me. I think overall I did a fair job telling
the story. I wasnt perfect but I also didnt mess up completely. I left out
some things but I think I got most of the important facts in.
Thankfully I am friends with a good percentage of the class and was
comfortable enough with them to tell this story. If I was more comfortable
with everyone in the class I think I would have been able to do better. With
the people in the class that I know and that I am friends with they were with
me while I was going through all this and were there for me so I had no
problem telling them the story. For the most part I was able to block the class
out and telling it as if it was only me in the room trying to wrap my head
around everything that had happened in such a short amount of time.