Cancer Splits A Devoted Couple, But Not A Family Sy and Pat Saliba were together for nearly 40 years; the pair first met as teenagers in Trinidad. Five years after Pat's death from cancer, Sy speaks with his daughter, Yvette, about life with the woman who was his soul mate.
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Cancer Splits A Devoted Couple, But Not A Family

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Cancer Splits A Devoted Couple, But Not A Family

Cancer Splits A Devoted Couple, But Not A Family

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LYNN NEARY, Host:

Time now for StoryCorps. Today, a love story born in the Caribbean.

Sy Saliba met his wife, Pat, when they were teenagers in Trinidad. After nearly 30 years together and three children, Pat was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. She died in 2005.

Sy came to StoryCorps with their youngest daughter, Yvette, to reflect on life with her mom.

M: We got married in '68. We were poor as church mice. We celebrated our anniversary our first month - I took her a Shula's Steakhouse, which was kind of like the ultimate eating place. We spent all of $12. That was our entire month's grocery bill in those days. And she fretted with me all the way home, how wanton and extravagant we were to do that.

M: Did you ever question your decision to marry mom?

M: No. It was kind of like our spirits merged, and we were like soul mates, and just we kind of became one.

M: So what went through your mind, then, when she became sick?

M: It was like we were in two canoes on a stream, and all of a sudden there was a split - a fork in the stream - and she took one line, and I took the other. And for a long time we would paddle together, you know? We could hold hands, and then gradually the streams kind of moved away, and we could no longer hold hands. But we could look at each other, and we could talk to each other. And then it got further and further away until we just lost each other.

M: As a daughter, watching her go through that, she still maintained a sense of optimism. Was that something, I guess, she put on for her children?

M: It was who she was. She'd find her little oases, little things that she could look forward to, moments that she could plan to go through the chemotherapy or to go through the pain of a biopsy.

M: I remember when they told us that there was nothing else they could do. We were in the hospital, and I just remember coming back in the room and just seeing you sitting there with mom, and neither of you were saying anything. But you were just looking at each other for a very long time. And I remember thinking, I wonder if he told her; I wonder if he told her that that was it.

M: You know, I don't remember the sequence, but what I do remember is we never talked about what will happen. She was concerned about what will happen to me after she died, how I would manage, how I would survive. And she was concerned that I would always remember her and not forget, and she said that to me.

And it's hard to forget her, because she sculpted a life in you. You are her handiwork and whenever I look at you, I'll remember your mother.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NEARY: Sy Saliba talking to his daughter Yvette at StoryCorps in Orlando, Florida.

Their interview will be archived at the Library of Congress. And you can read more about Sy and Pat's life together in the new StoryCorps book, "Mom."

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