Human Interest

Angie’s Story

Woman bent over
Grief takes a toll mentally and physically

Angie always admired her father for his strength. He was the type of man who never got sick, until he was diagnosed with Leukemia in April 1994. It was a fast-acting disease, and in September of that same year, her father passed away.

Angie was 15 and a sophomore at Theodore Roosevelt High School when her father died. She was in her afternoon gym class. She sat on the bleachers with her friend, Lydia Valdez, chatting about typical teenage topics. That day was not a workout day and everyone was in their school clothes.

Since her father had been sick for a while, Angie’s mother told her that if she received a note in any of her classes, it was probably bad news. When a student assistant walked into the gym with a note in her hand, Angie’s heart pounded in her chest.

“Everything started in slow motion. I looked down and I saw a student aid with a note in her hand and my heart started to race,” Angie said. She remembers hoping the note was not for her, and she said that she never prayed so hard in her life.

Her gym teacher, Ms. Weppler, called out her name and Angie gathered her belongings and ran down the bleachers. She said she had no idea how she didn’t fall down the bleachers in her agitation.

“The note said: Dad sick, cousin Betty will be waiting for you on Tulare Avenue.” Angie was in such shock that she forgot that the gym opened on Tulare Avenue. She ran into another friend and asked him where Tulare Avenue was. He looked at her, confused, and told her she was on Tulare Avenue. She ran off, still anxious.

She found her cousin in her aunt’s car. Betty said that her father was not doing well and that today might be the day. When she got to the house it was full of family, and everyone was moving fast.

“People left work,” Angie said, “even my dad’s ex-wife was there.”

She walked slowly to her father’s bedroom. Angie said she remembered that her father was incoherent, to the point where he didn’t know who his own daughter was. He was laying there, seemingly smaller because of the disease. He passed away later that afternoon.

“I just cried. I never saw my dad so sick… he was my superman and to see him sick was just scary,” Angie said.

Though her father died, she feels comforted with the thought that he is at peace. It has been 16 years since her father passed away, but she still feels the loss of her father every single day.

“You never get over the loss of a parent,” Angie said. “I think about him every day and the things that he missed with me, but my life would not be what it is now, and I think I have grown because of this experience.”

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