By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

My dear husband, Alan, passed away on Friday.  He has had a tough year, diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s, tongue cancer, c diff, COVID, hospitalization for a second bout of c diff, and heart rhythm problems.  Yet through all of that he kept an upbeat attitude and his wonderful sense of humor. In February he had successful surgery on his tongue, but oral cancers are usually aggressive and by mid-July he began having problems swallowing.  On July 19th a scan showed the cancer had recurred and there was wide-spread metastasis.  No further treatment was possible.  He went into Hospice on July 25th and died July 28th.

Indulge me in writing a bit about him.  He was born in the Philippines just prior to the outbreak of WWII; his father was a Scottish businessman stationed in Manila.  When the war broke out, Alan, his parents and brother were all interned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.  It was as grim as you might imagine, in the end living on one cup of rice for the family and sheltered only in a lean-to shanty. They were rescued in February 1945 and chose to immigrate to the United States.  They settled in Pasadena, California, where Alan grew up and was involved in sports, achieved Eagle Scout rank and according to his mother, excelled in creating general mayhem.  He always had a twinkle in his eye and an ability to schmooze that served him well over the years.  His profession was in marketing for large commercial insurance companies, and he was well-suited to the job.

Alan had two children he adored: a son, Colin and a daughter, Wendy.  He considered Wendy’s husband, Steve, to be like a son. Alan loved being a “Grandpa” to Wendy’s two boys, Matthew and Jake.  They held a treasured place in his heart and they had him wrapped around their tiny fingers from the moment they were born.

He explored many hobbies over the years, but in 1990 began playing golf and in it he found his passion.  When he retired, he spent a lot of time playing, but he also enjoyed practicing.  He was a true “range rat”.  He visited the PGA Superstore so often that I once suggested he get a job there. He loved watching hockey, particularly the Montreal Canadiens and the Washington Capitals.  But mostly he was a rabid USC football fan.  And I mean a fan.  Every fall he asked me to mark the SC games on the calendar and woe be to me if I scheduled any social engagements that conflicted.  Our friends would gently suggest that there was such a thing as a DVR, but Alan insisted (and I kind of agreed) that nothing beats watching sports live.

He was a loving, devoted dog dad to Dash the Wonder Dog.  In fact, I coined the “wonder dog” name because for 20 years Alan did not want a dog.  When he finally relented and we got Dash, Alan became putty in his paws.  In almost every photo I have of him he is holding Dash.  They created a special bond and Dash turned an indifferent pet owner into a complete sap.  Dash truly did wonders for him, especially during his trials this past year.

This is a very sad time for our family.  Dash is confused and keeps looking for him, which breaks my heart.  I know our lives will never be the same.  But I have tried to look for bright spots along the way these past few days.  First, and most importantly, the whole family was able to fly here the weekend following his diagnosis to spend time with him.  They were able to tell him how much they loved him, and he could do the same in return.  He told Matt and Jake how proud he was of the young men they have become, and that is a gift they can treasure for the rest of their lives.  He and I were able to spend time saying all the things we wanted to say to one another.  He knew how much I loved him, and I know his wishes for me as I go forward.

The second gift was the friends who gave me support and comfort this past week. My friend Debbie brought me support in innumerable ways, not the least of which was being here when the hospice transport came, and Alan left the house for the last time.  My friend Marge drove down from Idaho in hopes of saying goodbye to Alan.  After a two-day drive she arrived at our house at the exact moment they were transporting Alan to hospice.  She went with me to hospice each day and to the mortuary to make final arrangements.  My niece Shelley came up from Tucson for a day to spend time with me and give me a much-needed hug.  I am so blessed to have such a loving family and friends, all of whom have offered support and love, both in person and from afar.

I know I have a difficult road ahead of me, but I am trying to be grateful for the time we had together.  Next month we would have celebrated 36 years of marriage.  Many years ago, someone asked me why I thought Alan and I were so happily married, and I told her that he made me laugh every day.  I think that was our “secret sauce”, as no matter how irritated we might get over something, we always ended up making each other smile.

I am also grateful for the way in which he passed.  It was not sudden, nor was it drawn out.  He had the opportunity to tell all of us how much we meant to him, and he heard how much we all loved him.  Not everyone gets that experience at the end of their life.

I stumbled on this phrase from Ram Dass a few months ago that struck a chord then and has resonated a lot this week:

Sharing our love and our gifts
With any who join us on our roam,
Enlightenment comes to let us know
We Are Just Walking Each Other Home.

Rest in Peace, my sweet angel Alan.  It has been my privilege to walk you home.

59 comments on “WALKING A GOOD MAN HOME

  1. Suzanne, I have thought about you so any times these past few weeks, knowing that I must write to you concerning the loss of your husband, Alan. I am so sorry about what you are going through. Even though I only met you a couple of times and never had the pleasure of meeting Alan, through your writings I feel a connection to you. Our prayers are with you at this most difficult time. Hugs to you. Sue and John

  2. Suzanne – I know you are going through such a tumultuous, unreal time and I, and so many other people, wish we could say or do something to help. A friend sent me a short “verse” that hit a mark for me (at least part of the time):
    We all need a time to grieve—
    Quiet time for reflection
    To sift through memories
    And come to grips
    With what has happened.

    We all need time for tears,
    Not for the one who is now at peace,
    But for ourselves as we realize
    That things will never be the same.

    We all need time to just “be”
    So we can start to heal our broken hearts.

    • Susan, thank you so much for your note. I an really like the verse. I, too, need time to “be” and not have people around all the time so this really struck a chord. I appreciate you taking the time to reach out.

  3. I am so sorry to hear about Alan but what a beautiful tribute to him. It brought me to tears. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your whole family.
    Love, Sharon and Cap Hendrix

  4. Oh, Suzannne — I’m SO sorry! While we’ve not seen each other in many years, I speak of you, often, and how you were the first person to see what I might just be able to offer BofA as an employee; I’ve never forgotten that amazing plate of “thank-you” cookies! I read your lovely tribute to Alan in tears; how wonderful for both of you — and Dash — that you have so many wonderful memories, simply because you deserve them all! I’m now 80 (!), and have lost a number of the people I cared deeply about — as a result, I’ve carefully worked to remember all the laughs, the silliness, the fun, the CARING that those around me have provided, and I wish the same for you. Blessings.

    • Arno – thank you so much for your note. As you say, as we age we lose those we care about and it’s not easy. But good memories make a difference and I know over time I’ll smile and laugh when I think back on our adventures together.

      Stay well and keep in touch.

  5. So beautifully written you two were an ideal couple Sbar and I treasure the friendship we had and will always remember the great times we had together. Big Al will forever have a place in our hearts we love you both and your sweet Dash. Sbar and Vah

    • Thanks, Vah. We’ve had the most special friendship for 35 years and we’ll keep it going forever. Love you both – Suz

  6. Suzanne, Rich and I were so sad to learn of Alan’s passing. Rich so enjoyed the time they had together. Our deepest condolences. Cindy

  7. Dear Suzanne, I am so sorry to hear of Alan’s passing. I always enjoyed his comments on travel and golf. I loved your book about his childhood and family in WWII Philippines. I hope you have comfort in memories and the support and love from your family and your Wonder dog!

    • Thank you, Alyce. You are so kind to take the time to write. I am indeed lucky to have such a good support system. Best to you – Suzanne

  8. Sorry for your loss Aunt Suze. We are happy we were able to meet Alan and spend time with the both of you during your visits to So. CA. May he rest in peace. God Bless. Brad and Betsy.

    • Thanks, Susan. Yes, it helps that Dash seems to be back on an even keel and is once again playing and sleeping all night. Dogs do make all the difference!

    • Thanks, Sabra. Sure looking forward to seeing you in October. Thanks for all of your support these past few months. xo

  9. My sincere condolences, I’ve read your blog from the beginning, I am very sorry for your loss. Hug Dash and know Alan feels it.

  10. So beautifully said. We share in your love and grief for such a wonderful man.
    When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure. Alan Will always be a treasure in our lives💔

  11. My heart goes out to you at this difficult time. Your tribute to your husband, your marriage and your love for each other was perfectly said and brought tears to my eyes.
    May all your wonderful memories bring you much strength in the coming months.
    Carol Scovel❣️

  12. That was beautiful Suz. Al was a wonderful man and he always has and always will have a big place in my heart. 💕💕🙏🏻

  13. Suzanne dear, I really have no words, but shock. Your tribute to Alan was beautiful. Indeed he will walk with you on the road ahead.

  14. Suzanne,
    Such a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to Alan. Praying such deep mutual love will bring you comfort in the days ahead. Sending you and your family deepest condolences.
    Love, Vickie

  15. Suzanne,
    My deepest sympathy for your loss. I didn’t know Alan but your piece gave me a sense of who he was and what you were together. Your memories, friends and family will sustain you as you begin this next life chapter. God speed.

  16. Such a beautiful tribute! I am smiling through my tears. You have been blessed by having such an incredible husband and family…..including Dash! Hang on to these peaceful feelings and joyful memories. Sweet Alan will be truly missed. With love, Sherri

  17. Suz, Chris and I are sending lots of love to the entire family during this sad time. I will always remember Al’s great sense of humor and the fun times shared with you both at the Sbarbaro’s. He will be greatly missed by all who were lucky enough to know him.

  18. Oh Suzanne, my heart is broken for you! I had tears running down my face reading your heartfelt tribute to Alan. I am holding you in my thoughts and prayers, my friend. How incredibly fortunate you are to have so many loving memories! God bless you and keep you strong. 💔😪♥️

    • Thanks, Marie. I do have good memories and know that I was very lucky to be with him these past 40 years. Hope you and your family are doing well. Love seeing the pics of your boys on FB. xo

  19. My heart is with you at this time. My father was working in a rock quarry in san rafael in Marin County When he drilled into dynamite sticks collapsing his lungs and shortening hi s leg. The next year Pearl Harbor was attacked and he went down to sign up to go to war. They said no way. He would have been killed in the first year. He worked the railroads shipping munitions and in a Boeing factoy in Seattle to help the war effort.
    Like your husband he was a hero to me. Remember I went to Novato High and I knew members of your family. A great family. An honor to know them.

  20. Dear Suzanne, my deep and heart felt condolences go to you. I feel like I have gotten to know you and Alan through your blog even though we have never met. I came to your blog through your brother helping me with a loan. You are such a brave women being able to create this message through many tears I am sure. Hugs through the airwaves.

  21. Dear Suzanne: We are so sorry to learn of Alan’s passing. Your blog this morning was totally amazing and it was not easy to read through with tears streaming down . Our deepest sympathy to you and your family at this most difficult time. Sending you lots of love, Gayle and Joe Colello

  22. Suzanne, I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am you’ve lost your precious Alan. You were blessed to have found one another and I know how much you will miss him. Our stories sound way too similar. Cherish those precious precious memories. They will bring comfort. I’m here if you need anything.❤️❤️❤️


    • Thanks, Joanie. I know he’s watching out for me and I’m really glad that he died the way he wanted to, so there’s some solace in that. Hope you are doing well. xo

  24. Oh Suzanne,
    Of course you found YOUR person and he made you laugh.
    Knowing you since age four, I can reflect back and recall you
    and Leslie laughing.
    Such a loss for so many.
    Are your ears burning? Alan and Leslie are talking about you!
    You brought them both so much joy!
    You are so resilient, Suzanne. I am happy that Dash the Wonder Dog is there to comfort you.
    I want to wish you and my Papa Bear a happy (as possible) shared birthday as well.
    August 7th is a special day. He’d be 108. YIKES! You? I’ll never tell!
    Love, Kathy

    • Thanks, Kath. I so appreciate your note. Yes, I’ll get through this and I still have Dash to provide some comfort. Will be thinking about PB on Monday – my birthday twin! Love, Suz

  25. Suzanne, I am so sorry for your loss. It’s clear you had a very special relationship and you can find such comfort in that. I am a friend of Bob and Linda’s and have been reading your blogs for some time. I will pray for healing and peace for you and your family. Blessings…

  26. Oh Suzanne, I am so terribly sorry to read about Alan’s passing. You & he had one of those “ made in heaven” marriages. I am so happy he was able to pass in the way he did, surrounded by those he most loved, including Dash the wonder dog. Sometimes there are no good words, but I am thinking of you & keeping you in my heart and prayers. I’ll reach out in a few. Hugs my dear friend.

    • Thanks, Cheryl. I appreciate all the support you have sent my way these past few months. I’ll look forward to catching up with you.

  27. Suzanne, I am so sorry you lost your soul mate – I hope the loving memories bring you comfort – sending you virtual hugs❣️Barb Sullivan

    • Thanks, Barb. So appreciate your comment. I hope you and your family are doing well. Would love to see you if you get out here. xo

  28. Our hearts break for you. Alan was such a fine man and a beautiful partner.
    Your tribute says it all…and you got to walk him home.
    Sending love and prayers.💛💛🙏🙏

  29. You and Alan have been a special part of our DH lives and I will hold you in my memory and thoughts. May you continue to smile at your beautiful thoughts of your life together..with Love Bev

    • Thanks, Bev. I know you’ve been down this road. Look foward to playing some canasta again this fall. xo

  30. Oh Suzanne, what a beautiful tribute to Alan. I have such special memories of our time together at DH, and wow could he make everyone laugh. I hope and pray that every day going forward will be easier for you, and of course DTWD! Love and miss you – hope to get to DH in the Fall. 💔💔💔

    • Thanks, Leez. Sure look forward to seeing you if you get out here. We can toast Alan – he would love that. xo

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