Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Birds, St. Petersburg Russia 2010 from the series CRUISE
All reproduction rights reserved Wm Greiner

I am not sure how many people can say that they watched each of their parents die. My mother died a few years ago, in a hospital, from complications of surgery. I held one hand, my sister, held the other and with one last breath our mother was gone. It was peaceful and not unexpected.

My dad has made the most of it since her passing. He has traveled a lot, mostly with one or two of his grown children in tow. Last year almost to a day, it was my sister and I with him on a cruise to Russia. My dad , although in good shape for his age , was 89 years old at the time.

We had spent all morning walking the grounds of a Russian palace. In the afternoon, we proceeded indoors, and up the long stairway to the second floor. My dad seemed to grow weaker, losing his breath, face turning ashen. He sat down, then passed out, falling to the floor. Shallow pulse, no color and not breathing.

I have learned that Russia is not the best place to get sick. I am just not sure about health care there, or at least emergency care. The nurse finally showed up with smelling salts and a stiff back hand. Yes, she slapped him, yelled at him and thrust the salts under his nose. I was positive he had expired.

In the moment, the only thing I could think to do was to turn my attention to my sister and console her. We had already done the death watch once. Ironically, my dad started to breath again, a pulse returned as did his color. After a bit of observation and a wait for the bus, we returned to the ship. He had no idea what had happened. He looked at us and said, "I'm hungry, you all ready for lunch".

I had no appetite that day and I never want to visit Russia again.


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