Sometimes mortality slaps me in the face and I don’t at all like what I see. Saturday was Steve’s aunt Lois’ birthday, and since Doris was here from Colorado, mom, Bob and Doris trekked up to Wausa to celebrate her birthday. Harry, Lois’ husband, has been in a nursing home there in town since suffering 2 heart attacks this spring, I think he’s 90, but he got to come “home” for the day to help celebrate. Lois has had to move out of their home into her daughter and son in law’s because she’s just too frail to take care of a house herself, and she didn’t particularly care to live alone. Harry was quite excited about coming home for the day and actually thought he was going to get to stay out all night, but he couldn’t, for health reasons, which I thought was sad. I’ll hate to reach the age where my health predluces me from spending the night even in the same room as my sweetheart, much less the same building. It must be so incredibly lonely for him.
Then, at dinner last night I heard Doris talking and she said she doubted she’d see her sister again, so he was glad she made the trip. How do you handle that? How do you even think you’re never going to see your sister alive again? Granted I have a sister I really don’t care if I see again, but when you love someone and you say goodbye, knowing that it’s the last time, what do you do? Do you try to memorize their features, so you’ll remember what they looked like? Do you share memories of days past? Or do you just savor the closeness of those last moments?
Several years ago someone I worked with an knew pretty well with diagnosed with leukemia. They never could get it into remission and he was told he has 6 months maximum. Christmas fell within those 6 months and I often wondered how he felt about that. Did he pack away the ornaments thinking that next Christmas his wife and kids would be unpacking them alone? Did he look at the certain ornaments and remember the special memories associated with them? At the Christmas dinner table how did he feel, knowing this was the last time he would be there as the patriarch of the family, knowing next year his place would be empty? I’m not trying to be morbid here, but how to people deal with these things? I don’t think I could. Seriously. Aside from how he felt, how did the family feel?
I remember when my grandmother had Alzheimer’s and I would go visit her at the nursing home. I never knew if I would get a call before I could return again telling me that she was gone – physically. The person that I knew slipped away so slowly and subtly that one day I just realized that my grandmother was gone and only the shell remained. I had a hard time visiting her after that and eventually quit going, which was painful. It still is painful, I’m crying as I write this because still, after 15 years I miss her so much it hurts. I’m not sure I like this mortality thing.