Frank: Family Relationship Challenges
Both Frank and Gloria experienced rough childhoods. Frank revealed his father had beat him and sent him away from home on several occasions. Gloria was sexually abused by her adoptive father. He acknowledged the challenges their past experiences brought to their marriage. Their children also had difficult times because their mother lived with bipolar disorder. At first it was "pretty rocky." Frank explained, “Well, she abused them. She’d yell at them and scream at them. She’d hit them. She was very unpredictable. . .” By time the children were in high school and moving out, Gloria got better after finding a medication that worked and a helpful psychiatrist. Frank views all his children as successes. He noted “I get along very well with the kids, very well.”
Frank acknowledged that although there were still tough days, there were also good days in their last years together.
The last five or ten years before she died, we got along very well. She was a very pleasant lady. . . I will always miss her because at the tail end, she was a very good woman. As we looked back at our life, every once and a while we would sit down, remember when you done that. No, she couldn’t remember.
Gloria died from pancreatic cancer about five years ago. She found out about her cancer diagnosis six months before she died and then completed a living will, specifying she wanted no treatment or life support. She received hospice care, which gave Frank a chance to do some things on his own. Prior to her death, Gloria gathered her children together to say goodbye. Frank reported, “They had been crying and they were smiling and they just loved her to pieces. Towards the tail end, they just loved her because she was such a warm, caring person.”
When asked about forgiveness, Frank said they all forgave Gloria and she forgave them for past hurts. Frank realized that forgiveness happens daily, and if he chose to hang on to anger and resentment, it was his problem. Gloria died at home with Frank and their eldest daughter present. Frank remembered Gloria’s death at home as a peaceful time—“She was so happy when she died.”
In reflecting on their life together, Frank concluded that the hardest thing for him was that he could not trust Gloria because of her unpredictability. He commented, “You’re always kind of walking on marbles because you don’t know how it’s going to be.” After Gloria got better because of the right medication, Frank observed, “I wouldn’t trust anybody any more than her.”