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    Red Dwyer - Author

    Red Dwyer’s Killing us Softly is a monumental book of heartfelt and practical advice for getting through and surviving the onslaught of cancer and death of a spouse.
    With the use of real time journal entries and blog posts, the author reaches out to readers in a unique way to guide them through all the emotions, responsibilities, and processes of being the caretaker of a marriage partner.
    Self-care and the care of the children are her primary focus, as she becomes the sole head of household and cup of love for her dying spouse and surviving family of nine children, three of whom are autistic.
    The book is supremely well-balanced in a way that has never been offered to the public before. The journal entries and blog posts draw us into her intimate life as she grieves privately yet exhibits her strength throughout and beyond the dying process. The focus is on helping the reader maneuver through the seemingly herculean feats of love and physical care which are assigned to the surviving spouse once the diagnosis of cancer is definite.
    From discussion on diagnosis and decisions to be made, through treatment and endgame, Red Dwyer holds our hand and shares with us her advice for not only surviving but also claiming our lives as we traverse this difficult and often hidden journey. She discusses the role of spirituality in the lives of the caretaking spouses, and the details of cancer treatment as a partner in the comfort of her loved one.
    Almost all of us are faced with treatment options at end of life, and many of us don’t face them until we are feeble and sick and not entirely in a place to make those decisions. While cancer has specific decisions to be made, Dwyer discusses the choices we all make when faced with extended treatment of a terminal illness or allowing nature to take its course.
    From diagnosis to hospice care, endgame and beyond, this author will be ultimately helpful to millions, who before this point have persevered and survived in silence.

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Memorial Day Children

Memorial Day 2012

I wrote this memoir five Memorial Days ago. Now, more than fifteen years later, the day remains fresh in my memory as though it happened today. Partly, this is because it has happened on more than one Memorial Day. I hope you celebrate with your family in the spirit of what Memorial Day truly means. It is far more than a bank holiday, beer and barbecue.

With one little hand nestled in mine and the other wrapped tightly around ten red carnations, my daughter was pensive as we walked through the cemetery. Both sides of the walkway through the center stood forty flags, as sentinels over their defenders. Each and every white soapstone headstone shone stark against the lushness of the green grass and vividness of the tiny flags planted at their bases.

Arlington National Cemetery, VirginiaShe slowed and then stopped completely. I quizzically gazed down at her as she released my hand and walked silently between the stones. She stopped before one, appearing to read the inscription. Her little knees touched the dewy grass beside the stone, and her tiny hand reached out to touch it. She took one bloom and placed it tenderly between the stone and the flag.

Over the next fifteen minutes, she roamed, questing for the perfect places. Soon, her blossoms distributed, she came back to me without a word and took my hand. I asked her, “Are you finished?” The words which came from her mouth would etch in my mind forever. With compassion and wisdom no one expects from adults, a three-year-old changed my vision of patriotism.

“Momma, these people loved America enough for us to be free.”

I was breathless. A tear slid down my cheek, as I knelt to hold her. Out of the mouths of babes come the most unabashed innocence. She pulled away and wiped the tear from my face. “Momma, may I have your flowers?”

Opening the bag I had brought, I handed her ten more blooms. “Do you want me to go with you?” I wanted to know what she was seeing.

“No, Momma. I can do it.”

With that, she walked to the other side of the cemetery to repeat her earlier actions. I went to the stones where she had laid the first blossoms. I knew she could not read all the words, but she had placed a flower on the stones which bore the names of husbands and wives, forever to lie together.

“I need one more.” She startled me standing beside my elbow. We walked back over to the bag and opened the last bundle of flowers. She held them tightly and took my hand. “I want you to read me this one.”

Near the far fence, she led me to a spot when the markers were cordoned into a rectangle, and the stones were laid flat. A statue of an angel stood amid the small stones. She walked up to the angel and lay the flowers at her feet. “What is she saying, Momma?”

With tears in my eyes, I read the inscription to her. “To our fallen brethren who will not be brought home, we ask this angel to grace your memories, your bravery and your sacrifice. May she grant our prayer that one day we never add more charges to her care.”

Standing in silence, she nestled against my leg in the shadow of the angel.

Many more blossoms would we bring over the years. Friends and siblings would join in our pilgrimage. Poignant, reverent and grateful is our family’s celebration of Memorial Day.


I will never forget.

To those who serve, have served and have fallen, you hold a special place in my heart. Your service is not in vain, is not forgotten. You are forever in my memory.

(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2007-2012
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  1. What a powerful piece, Red…
    I imagine it would help all the brave men and women in the military to know there are people like your daughter out there who sincerely respect and appreciate what they do each and every day…
    spilledinkguy recently posted..St. Louis GrungeMy Profile

    • Red

       /  May 28, 2012

      I know they do. I have always supported letters for soldiers. My children write them a few times per year. Happy Memorial Day, Bob.

  2. This is very touching, very very touching, it moved me to tears not even 1/2 way through. People forget these things, that are so important…

    • Red

       /  May 28, 2012

      Thank you for stopping to read this, MC.

      • Oh of course :) I told you I would try to come by more often … I’m trying to hold up my end :) (only have so much time you know… )

        You are most welcome. :)

  3. T

     /  May 28, 2012

    What a beautiful tribute! Yes, indeed… out of the mouths of babes

    • Red

       /  May 28, 2012

      Welcome, T. Good to see you here tonight. Happy Memorial Day! <3 Momma Bear

  4. This one just took my breath away…
    Phil recently posted..A Most Memorable Day – Memorial Day 2012My Profile

  5. I am struck mute. Precious.
    Tess Kann recently posted..Old Bird, New Tricks. . .My Profile


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