living long, losing, and forgetting

By: ewhite422

Aug 09 2010

Category: Uncategorized

1 Comment

Women on my mother’s side of the family tend to live a long time.  My great aunt, Mildred, passed away at age 105 in May.  Today we will hold the funeral for Norene, who passed away last Thursday at 96.  I arrived at the hospital as she was taking her last breath.

While we stood in the hall outside her room, alternately dabbing our eyes and hugging family members, it dawned on us that someone had to tell Aunt Ann, the youngest sister, age 92.  Ann fell 2 weeks ago on her birthday and broke her leg.  She has been in the hospital since then.  There was no way we were going to call her with the news, so I was elected to go to her in person.  My mother and stepdad went with me.

Ann always looks like a model.  She had been a sales rep for Loreal in her working days, and she still looks like she could do a television commercial for the company.  Always a red head as a young girl, her hair is still flaming red (with the help of Loreal).  I wonder if they gave her a lifetime supply upon retirement.  They probably had no idea how long Hampton women live!

We found her propped up in bed, looking well groomed, her hairbrush on her tray.  She called to us cheerily as we walked in the door.

I felt so bad that we were the 3 “angels of doom,” having to break the news that her sister had just breathed her last.

Her face crumpled when we told her.  And then she composed herself and said, “She suffered so much.  I am glad she is not suffering now.”

We stayed with her a long time, and talked of happy memories.  I teased her about her swollen knee, looking like it belonged to a basketball player.

“I WAS on the state championship basketball team of 1923!” she said proudly, “But my knee never looked like this!”

We asked about her husband, Harry, and she was confused about his whereabouts.  First she said he was in the hospital.  And then she said, “No, I believe he is out running errands.”  She asked me to call her house several times.

I tried to distract her from her worries about Harry.  “Would you like me to get you some magazines?” I asked.  She had always loved fashion.

“No,” she said, “I can’t concentrate, but I do like to play solitaire, and I can’t find my cards.”  I searched around the room finding nothing, so I got the ones that my husband and I bought in Hawaii out of my purse and offered them to her.

She beamed, “You won’t be getting these back!”

As we turned to leave, I spoke with her nurse, making sure that she would watch her carefully during the night until family members could be with her.  I had no way of knowing that the family would have to tell her on Sunday morning that her husband had passed away, too.

Uncle Harry died in a hospital across town yesterday.

They said that Ann took it well.  That probably means that she was confused.

It is sad to witness loss at any age, even 92.  I commented to my husband yesterday, when we got the news about Harry, that maybe that is why God allows our minds to be forgetful as we age.  Perhaps it is a gift, to soften the blow of loved ones passing, or of our own impending demise.

He agreed and we chuckled a little, remembering how my own mother, suffering from dementia, could not remember who my ex husband was, when his name was mentioned several weeks ago.  She and he never got along.

Sometimes forgetting is good.

I’ll probably spend the afternoon with Ann today, after attending her sister’s funeral.  Harry will be buried on Wednesday, and I will be by Ann’s side in the hospital.

Thank you for your prayers.


One comment on “living long, losing, and forgetting”

  1. Gulp. So sad. Thoughts are with you. Love you.

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