On Being With Dying

My phone rang Tuesday morning and I heard my Mom say “She’s a lot worse and I think you should come on.”  My mind switches to a sudden plan B.  Grabbing things I’ll need for a stay of unknown duration, making arrangements for work, animals, payroll and the daily real world shuts OFF.   I’m on the road in record time.

My Dear Aunt is one of my best friends.  I was born on her birthday & we’ve shared a special

kinship all of my life.  She had been sick for several years and finally, with Hospice, she was home to spend her last days.  We knew her time was short but she took a sudden turn & it was time for all of us to come together once more.

When I arrived she was barely responsive.  She did find the strength to tell us she loved us and she wanted to go home, but she soon slipped behind a thickening veil of clouds.  I quickly slid into my care-taking, instruction-giving nursely role and helped my family keep her comfortable.  Checking, talking, turning, medicating, praying, I was thankful to have things to do which allowed me to detach and simply be with the process.  I sat with her during the night, saying very little–taking solace in having time alone with her before she passed beyond my grasp.

Morning came; she was still clinging tenuously as family & friends came and went.  We talked, told stories…. We remembered.  Everyone called her Granny, including my kids.  My mom was Mamaw & she was Granny to them.  As a child, teen and young woman I spent a big chunk of my life in her home, milling among my cousins & loving the chaos.  It was so different from my life as an only child.

Dates, life lessons, family tragedies–we shared them all.  She and I would have ‘beauty nights’ when we sat at the kitchen table with goop on our faces or polishing our nails.  She & my Mom had similar nights with my daughter as well.  We laughed hysterically, remembering my preteen daughter working and working to remove a dried facial mask saying “Granny, it’s hard to get it out of the cracks and crevices”.  That’s when my daughter learned about wrinkles!  Hilarious, candid life played out for all of us….  We remembered years & years of home cooked food, washed dishes and stray animals.  Such a menagerie–dogs, cats, snakes, squirrels, rabbits, birds, ferrets, fish,  hamsters, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs….. Everything landed on her corner for a while…

She passed on Wednesday evening-quietly, peacefully and surrounded by love.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathy
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 16:58:16

    Sorry for your loss Sheila. I’m just catching up on a few blogs now.


    • Autoimmune Maven
      Apr 21, 2012 @ 04:52:32

      I’m playing catch-up myself Kathy. I’ve been doing a lot of blog reading on my breaks but haven’t had time to comment much. I’m glad you had the chance to drop in. Hope all is going well for you!


  2. phylor
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 22:16:45

    So sorry for your loss; her last days were filled with love, family, sharing stories, and the good memories.


    • phylor
      Apr 06, 2012 @ 22:23:38

      After my first comment, I wanted to add that she will always be with you in spirit and in your heart; I glad you had the chance to spend some time alone with her.
      She was surrounded by the ones she loved and loved her, she left in peace knowing (or sensing when the fog deepened) just how much she was cared for and how special she was to the lives of so many.
      Again, my condolences; it’s difficult to loose someone you love.


  3. deb aka abcsofra
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 21:27:49

    I truly believe in my heart that it is those of us who are left behind that feel the great loss of those that have moved on. She is in the better place then we, she is in a world filled with infinite love and one day we shall all meet there once again. I am so sorry for your loss and I know how much you miss her and will always miss her. But she is still with you, in your heart, in your mind and in all the wonderful memories you have shared together. I have found that while I am still here on earth that if I do good deeds in loving memory of those that have left me but I will see again, I feel I am doing this in their honor and doing these deeds with the love they have given me to pass on to others. For me, it helps to keep them close in my heart.


  4. hibernationnow.wordpress.com
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 20:35:56

    I’m so sorry for your loss Sheila. I’m glad at least you had those last hours together and that she knew you were there- you were there for each other. Sending healing thoughts and love, Laurie @ hibernationnow


  5. mo
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 20:09:28

    Sheila, I am so sorry that you have lost your beloved Aunt. Your description of your last days and hours with her sound so familiar to my experience with my Mom. It is wonderful that you were able to be there for her, and for yourself.

    My thougts are with you….and you made me cry.



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