In loving memory of Mel and Rose Rudolph, Laura Burke
October, 2006 is three years since Mel Rudolph had ARDS. It had all began when he felt extremely weak after gardening. Mel drove himself to the emergency room; he was cold and weak. His wife, Rose, was at his side.
After Mel received a couple of tests, Rose called their daughter, Laura, and told her that Mel was in the ICU with pneumonia. Mel and Rose lived in Las Vegas; Laura lived in Chicago.
Mel, who was 70 years old, had not had any recent surgery, was not ill, though he had been diagnosed and treated for colin cancer. He was active and healthy. Mel was admitted to to the hospital on September 5, 2003.
Mel was not getting better and after three days, they said that he had ARDS. A specialist told Rose that he had a leak somewhere that his oxygen is leaking from. Rose remained by Mel’s side every moment. Their three children all lived out of state and Rose was on her own to deal with everything. Rose had been through health issues herself, having been breast cancer survivor, and open heard surgery survivor, and a type A diabetic. She also had COPD, but still, she remained by Mel’s side.
After two weeks in ICU, all of the kids flew in to spend time with both Mom and Dad. The fear in Mel’s eyes were the hardest thing for Laura to handle. Sons Irwin and Jeff took turns staying for weeks at a time to help Rose. Mel and Rose had been married for 52 years.
Laura was frustrated with the many miles between her and her parents. But she found support from the ARDS Foundation website and people who had dealt with ARDS. Jackie, who lost her husband to ARDS and lived in the area, spent time with Rose and was always at her side when the news was not good.
In October, Mel was placed in a drug induced coma in an effort to allow the breathing to slow. His trach was in but still the oxygen level was not remaining constant. When the level became steady, they attempted to move him to a rehab center but within hours, he was back in the ICU.
In November, all functions were failing. Laura’s younger brother Jeff and his family were to Las Vegas to spend the Thanksgiving week Rose and Mel. Laura’s phone rang that night Jeff was still miles away from arriving. Rose’s words were ones Laura will never forget, “They don’t think Dad will make it through the night. Don’t tell Jeff while he’s on the road.” Jeff arrived at midnight, and headed to the hospital to be with his parents.
At 6:00 AM Chicago time, Laura heard more words she would never forget: “He passed away just moments ago”. That was on November 25, 2003.
It was also on that date that they officially lost their mother. Rose struggled with losing her life partner and though she tried to stay the strong woman she always was, within 18 months, Rose passed away. Their children believe that ARDS took both of their parents.
Though it is sad to lose both parents in such a short time, they are stronger knowing they are together.
Laura is sharing her story to honor her parent’s memory, to show others how important it is to have received support from ARDS Foundation, because ARDS is so difficult to comprehend and to be able to talk to someone who understands ARDS makes a tremendous difference.
Nine months after losing their father, Laura’s brother and his wife had a child whom they named Matthew Rudolph, named after his grandfather, and his sister, Allyssa Rose is named after her grandmother. Mel and Rose will always be watching over the children.