Well, where to begin? I guess the obvious place to begin would be the passing of my Mother, Sandra O’Hare. I know most of you were completely surprised, but she wanted to keep her health matters private, so we respected her wishes. Mom passed away peacefully on June 15th at my Uncle’s house in Arizona City, where we had Hospice set up. Many of you probably remember that my Father, Tom O’Hare (our Forever-Editor) passed away there as well back in 2013. I can’t thank my Uncle, Patrick Kilcullen enough for letting us take over his house twice. Having someone die in your house is a pretty big bummer, in my book (my first Dad, Bob died in our house in Mexico), so for my Uncle to take that on twice…well, there just aren’t enough words to express my gratitude. My Mother did die peacefully – I know everyone always says that, but she really did, and I am so thankful for that. She had some hellish days this past year, but the last few months she was pretty much pain free and doing what she wanted like drinking cerveza, sitting in the sun all day and eating king crab legs and cherry pie. My brother, Robert Phipps, myself, my husband, Wayne Corcoran and my Uncle Pat were all with her when she passed.
Last October she went to her Ajo house to escape the heat of the ranchito and she hadn’t really been feeling well for a while, but I always kind of blamed it on her missing my Dad. When you’re one true love goes away sometimes there is no recovering and I think that definitely played a part. After a phone call with my brother I came to Ajo and brought her back to see her doctor in Mexico. This started us on a very sucky journey that ended in June of this year. The things we experienced between the health care systems in Mexico and the U.S. would blow your mind. It was literally like being on a roller coaster. And I do mean literally! We went from end stage kidney disease to no kidney disease to stage IV colon cancer to uterine cancer that was 100% treatable and then to stage IV recurring endometrial cancer, which there is no cure for, and that carries a death sentence (6-months or less, possibly a few months more if you opt for chemo). My Mother has always been against chemotherapy and she wanted quality of life over quantity.
Alicia and I spent weeks on top of weeks on top of weeks living out of motels in Mexicali spending 12 to 16 hours a day at the hospital every day. Our husbands were running back and forth bringing us clothes and supplies and work. It was absolutely exhausting both mentally and physically and absolutely frustrating most of the time. If it weren’t for Alicia I don’t think Mom would have made it out of the hospital in Mexicali. That’s not to say Mom didn’t have some awesome doctors and excellent care, but wow, what a life lesson. And the U.S. hospital system was no better – I have plenty to say about that nightmare month as well – again, not that she didn’t have some great doctors and care, but boy, if you are not there every single minute of the day, it’s amazing what can happen. The whole experience was an eye-opener and I no longer believe in just a second opinion…I believe in a third and fourth and fifth if necessary.
Along with my Uncle and my Brother, who lives in Wisconsin, and made many a road trip to stay with, and care for Mom, Alicia and Mario are to be given a wealth of gratitude as well for keeping the business running and getting the paper out on time as well as taking care of the ranchito and my Mom and treating her as if she was their own Mother. It’s not often that you find employees and friends who truly have your best interest at heart. I am just so very thankful for them. And, of course, my husband, Wayne, who has an endless amount of patience and compassion and who has lived the majority of the past year without me…you try walking 350lbs+ of dogs on your own!
So, to conclude the details of my Mom’s health problems – and I am only giving details because I, myself, am always curious about what happened when people you know die and you had no idea they were ill. She had her lady parts removed a few years ago and was told by the doctor that no cancer had spread so no follow-up radiation was done and she never got a second opinion. Whether it started then or before we will never know, but by October of last year, and obviously before that, there was definitely cancer and it had spread and formed a tumor around her lower spine and left ureter tube (connects the kidney and bladder). Not only did she basically lose the function of her left kidney, the tumor was so large that it fractured her spine. She had been living with a broken back for who knows how long. When we finally got to a U.S. hospital in February of this year, she did have some fractions of radiation in hopes that it would shrink the tumor and relieve some of her spinal pressure. I don’t know if it worked or not because she opted to go under hospice care since she did not want to seek any further treatment and her diagnosis was 6 months or less…quality over quantity. And she did indeed have some quality – most I think thanks to my brother, who is a pretty good drill sergeant and made her eat lots and exercise. She thrived very well for the first 3-months and we went to lunch and dinner and to the beauty salon and she went on “Booze Cruises” with my Uncle and friends around the golf course. We watched a lot of movies, drank a lot of beer and wine, ate a lot of food, and did a lot of internet shopping. I would like to thank the great gals at New Image Salon in Arizona City and her hospice nurse, Crystal, who was absolutely awesome as well as Michael Jackson, the owner of Bedillions Restaurant in Casa Grande – an excellent place to eat! And to Compassus Hospice for the excellent care they provided. If, God forbid, you have to be under hospice care, I would choose them and move to the Casa Grande vicinity so you can have Crystal B as your nurse.
And now that brings us to present day and it looks like I am back on the scene. I never really “left” the paper as Mom still made me write the Editorial, but I did take a long leave when I brought my first Dad (Bob) down to live with us. I’ve worked at the paper since 1995 and most of you know me from when I was there every day. I do a great job (in my opinion) but, unfortunately, I do not have the awesome personality and love of people that my Mom had. I would much rather be roaming the beach with my two Great Danes or paddle boarding, than attending social functions and parties, but I guess all that is going to change now. I’m wondering if I should replace her frog collection with my Pez collection…eh, probably not…what will I do with all of those frogs? Hmmm. And I have enlisted the help of my Uncle Pat, who does have a similar personality to my Mom – I guess being that it’s her brother it is to be expected – so I am excited for him to come down more often and for all of you to meet him. He is a super fun person and pretty soon I expect to see him sippin’ cerveza at Manny’s new pool bar.
Sandra Jo O’Hare, you were the best Mom and a giant pain in my keester, but I will miss you every single moment of my life and I hope that your dream came true and you have found your one true love, Thomas Nelson O’Hare again wherever you are.
I look forward to getting back to work supporting Rocky Point and promoting tourism as we have done for the past 25 years. I believe the Rocky Point Times is an incredible asset to the community and I plan to honor the legacy my parents have left me. I am very thankful for all of the people who have helped us through this difficult time. It is very hard for me to imagine the world – and especially Rocky Point – without my Mom in it. I know she will be missed by many of you and I’m sorry she didn’t get to say goodbye to each and every one of you. I think I can speak for Alicia too when I say if you mention Sandy to us, expect to see tears for quite some time. We are forced to start a new chapter without her, but I promise you that we are just as dedicated to Rocky Point as ever. Stay cool and have a great August!