One afternoon, the phone rang. It was not my job to answer the phone so I let it be. My dad was there in the office to pick up the call. Moments later he said, “Robert, your mom has cancer.” We would find out later after several tests that she had cirrhosis.

It had been almost a year since I started working for my dad. My job was to take care of our warehouse. Everything that happens in the warehouse goes through me. I was in charge of receiving and loading shipments of structural steel.

The phone call changed everything, though. My dad had to take care of my mom, so I was asked to go to provinces to see our customers. I despised being in the warehouse. It was boring and I was not learning anything.

Going to the provinces is different. I thought it would be far more exciting and I would have a chance to meet new people. The thought of going from one place to another thrilled me.

And then my thoughts would drift back to my mom. Decades later, I would realize the reason why I welcomed the travel was so that I do not have to see my mom every single day. Cirrhosis has been ravaging her body. According to the doctor, she only had ten months to live from the time of diagnosis.

Peace at Home

Growing up in a dysfunctional family, I never saw my parents together. We all live in the same house and they sleep in the same bedroom. Make no mistake about it, though. The animosity between them is as real as it gets.

Perhaps it is the realization of the gravity of my mom’s disease. After that phone call, my dad started taking care of my mom. All the time that I have seen them in plain sight of each other, I can feel the hatred. Of course, I have no idea what that was about, not before, not today.

Dad took my mom to the hospital when needed. Once, he brought her to China to see a specialist. Evidently, the animosity was gone. There was peace at home, but at this price? It’s not worth it.


Over the next several months, I rejected thoughts of death. Even if I knew what was going to happen, my mind could not comprehend.

One afternoon, she asked me to see her in the bedroom. There she started telling me things I need to remember and do. Then she showed me where she kept valuables and documents. Strange thing was that I had not realized those were her final instructions for me.

A few days before she died, I had to go to the province to collect payments from our customers. Hospital bills were piling up.

My mom died of cirrhosis on May 1991. A quarter of a century has passed. To this day, the thoughts of my mom keep coming back.

What Might Have Been

As a distributor of dietary food supplements, I became aware of degenerative diseases. The law is clear. Pharmaceutical companies and distributors are not allowed to make any health claims.

I do talk about the products and the benefits of the ingredients with other distributors. We do it in private, of course. In the past two years, I heard of three cases of people with cirrhosis who recovered. These are solid testimonials no one can use for marketing purposes.

It made me think of my mom. Would it have mattered if she were to use the products? Would she be here today?

I miss my mom.