The Things You Remember at Death’s Door

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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I will never hear his voice again.

That was the first thing that went through my mind when my dad told me my brother had died unexpectedly. I now find myself missing my brother like crazy. 

In desperation and amid the grief, I try to recall moments filled with laughter. It is hard to remember much of anything when this disease excels in circumventing memories of any kind. 

But I miss his voice with the Kentucky twang. Tears that would roll down his cheeks, accompanying his uncontrollable laughter. And I miss the calls and texts that were becoming more regular over the last year or two.

It’s funny what you remember. Two specific memories stand out in my mind when I think of my brother.

Memory No. 1

My brother and I were home alone. At that time, my brother was 14 and I was 13. We had gotten home from school a couple hours earlier and finished our chores and our homework. It was pitch black and raining.

Our dogs started to bark. Two headlights peered into our front window from the corner of the road about 200 yards away. 

There was only one way down to our house and one way out. Once you turned down our road, you had to go the quarter mile to our house and turn around to get back out.

The headlights came closer as my brother and I stood inside the house, watching out the living room window. The car pulled to a stop and the occupants, four male teenagers, sat in the car while it idled in front of our garage.

After what seemed like forever, my brother told me to wait where I was.

“What are you going to do?” I asked him.

He had already opened the front door. He stood on the front porch and yelled at them. “Get out of here!”

With the front door open, I could hear the boys laughing in the car. My brother came back in the house and picked up my dad’s rifle from the corner. I watched the car through the window. One boy was getting out of the car.

My brother walked back out onto the porch and cocked the gun. Again I could hear the boys laughing in the car. At that point, my brother shot the rifle up into the air. Then he cocked it again and aimed it at the black car, and the one boy jumped back inside. They peeled out and headed back the way they came.

I was scared to death, but never had I been prouder of my big brother who was protecting me, his little sister.

Memory No. 2

The recent fires in southern Oregon had taken their toll on our family. My son and his family completely lost their home and we were displaced for several weeks until our home was safe to re-enter. 

I was on the phone with my brother shortly after moving back in, and he asked how everything was going. We talked a little more and then hung up. The phone rang again. I answered it. It was my brother calling back.

“I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you.”

I was speechless.

“Why are you proud of me?” I asked, feeling somewhat stupid for asking, but I really didn’t know why he would say that to me.

“You’ve been through a lot and you’re a strong person. I am just proud of you.” He told me he loved me and then he hung up. That was the last time I heard his voice. The one with the Kentucky twang. 

It was at that moment I recall being thankful for the hardships in my life. Thankful that they have made me stronger than I would have been without them. Thankful that because of them, I heard my big brother tell me he was proud of me. I wish I would have told him how proud I was of him.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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