Search
  • Martha Rasche

A New Perspective


In January 1996, I took three days off from my job as a reporter for the South Bend Tribune to interview my father about his life. It was my first foray into what today is my work with Life Stories.

During those days on the farm where I grew up, I learned about my father's life growing up in that same place. I also learned just how sick he was at that time. He was dealing with three kinds of cancer (lung cancer, skin cancer and leukemia) and, I know in retrospect, had been particularly depressed since being unable to help with the harvest the preceding fall for the first time in his life. When he took a break from our interviews to go to the bathroom, he could walk only into the next room, the kitchen, before needing to sit down to catch his breath.

That was my yesterday. After several days of throwing up and light eating, walking from one room to another totally wore me out. My breathing became labored and I had to sit down to regroup. This continued all day and aggravated me to no end.

For my father, it continued for months. Four months after our interviews — 19 years ago today — my father died. He was only 75. I think it is accurate to say he died of cancer, but that is the sanitized version and I have never proclaimed it. In fact, he took his own life. His pain had been ongoing, and his yearslong depression had never been diagnosed. He was a man of faith, but his tolerance for physical and emotional pain had its limits.

My father was one of my favorite people and probably has had the biggest influence on my life of anyone. Experiencing my own mini version of his frailty yesterday enlightened me in new ways.

#cancer

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

I picked up another bound copy of life stories from the printer earlier this month. This time the stories are of my 97-year-old harmonica teacher. ​ Decades before Lucille helped me learn to play t

If you don’t have very important plans for 9 o’clock (Eastern time) tonight, I urge you to watch the PBS documentary about the mental health of adolescents. It’s a Ken Burns presentation, “Hiding in P

As a child, my bedtime ritual — after brushing my teeth in the only bathroom our family of 11 had — started by dipping the fingers of my right hand into the holy water font that hung on the wall near