Marlis's Story: Faith for the Journey

Marlis Brady has a beautiful accent. There’s something quite elegant in the way she pronounces her consonants; and the rhythm of her voice, as it subtly rises and falls, produces an enchanting, peaceful effect – even as she describes the trials she’s faced in her 88 years.

Marlis in one of her favorite spots, the back sun porch.
Marlis grew up in the Rhine Main Valley in Germany during World War II, where hardship was not uncommon.

“You couldn’t get anything new. We grew up always saving things, repairing things,” Marlis explained. “I remember one winter I froze my toes because we didn’t have regular shoes… I was standing in line for milk too long.”

Food was scarce for families like hers, who didn’t have a farm of their own. But she and her brother helped at other farms during the potato harvest. It meant a sandwich each day for lunch, and an extra sack of potatoes at the end of the year. It was a way to help their family, before Marlis started to work for the occupying American forces after the war.

John and Marlis Brady
on their wedding day,
September 27, 1952.
The couple married
 in Windsor before
moving to Detroit.
“When I turned 18, I could actually get a good job because I could work as an interpreter,” Marlis said. “Then I got a real dinner every day and so that was the way to go. It was what we all looked for, really.”

Then as soon as Marlis turned 21 – well, technically, it was the day after – she filed immigration papers for Canada. It took almost two years to get the papers, and in the meantime, she met her husband, John, there in Germany. (“In fact our first date was going to church, really funny,” Marlis recalled.)

At 22, Marlis emigrated across the Atlantic to Canada. John, born in the Bronx but raised in London and Dublin, later followed, and the two were married. But they knew Detroit was where the jobs were, so the Motor City was their destination.

Marlis and John with all five
of their children.
Now one thing you should know about Marlis is that she is a remarkable woman. Consider that she earned her Master’s degree while she had five little kids at home. Or that she and John spent years sailing the Eastern Seaboard after retiring from the Old Shillelagh bar downtown – just one of the businesses they ran. Marlis is also remarkable as a devoted supporter of Angela Hospice, and has faithfully sent a donation every month over the last few years. Having given a total of 54 donations in support of patients and their families, her commitment to supporting Angela Hospice began in 2009, when she lost her son, John, Jr. She and her husband had enlisted Angela Hospice to help care for him in their home, as he battled lung cancer.

“We were very pleased how my son was being taken care of,” said Marlis. “His sister who lived in Vermont, she came and worked from home and she was his caregiver. It was actually all the sisters who came and helped him.”

Marlis Brady said she’s feeling comfortable
these days thanks to her hospice team. Here she
is pictured with her daughter Dorinda, twin
great-granddaughters Kayla and Chloe, and
Dorinda’s poodle Darby.
John was just 54 years old when he died. Sadly, just five years later, another of Marlis’s children passed away – her daughter Barbara.

Now Marlis faces the final round in her own battle with cancer. But she’s at peace with her decision to forgo radiation and the “three or four miserable months” it might bring.

She’s happy with her choice to get home care from Angela Hospice in her daughter Dorinda’s home, and she’s grateful she started using hospice early on.

“It’s wonderful,” Marlis said. “They always take very good care of me and I’m always very comfortable.”

Her nurse Jane Vass regularly comes to check on her, make sure her symptoms are managed, and that she is not in pain.

“Jane convinced me that it’s OK to take pain medicine,” Marlis explained. “You know, I grew up in the ‘you grin and bear it’ type of mentality. But she says I don’t have to grin and bear it, you can be comfortable. And that’s what I’ve been doing. She convinced me of that.”

Jane Vass is Marlis's nurse. "It's an honor to take
care of people at this stage of their lives," Jane said.
"I have enjoyed my time with Marlis and listening to
her stories."
Marlis said she’s been feeling much better now on a low dose of morphine, and it’s allowed her to spend quality time with her daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, even if it’s hard for them to tell sometimes that she’s sick. But Marlis knows her time is limited, and it’s something she’s come to terms with, thanks to her Catholic faith.

“I know where I am going,” Marlis said. “Jesus has my back and I ask Him every day to take my hand and lead me.”

As she approaches the end of her life, Marlis is grateful to be comfortable, and to know she’ll once again see the son, daughter, and husband she lost.

“My husband died last year August, so I have three people waiting for me,” Marlis said. “I have my faith, and because of that I know where I am going.”

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