This was her favorite picture with our nephew’s two children who are grown now. She was teaching them how to swim.
My sister was running a high fever on Election Day, November 8, 2016 and so I called the paramedics who took her to the hospital for the fifth time since last November 24, 2015 when she broke her knee cap. She passed away peacefully in hospice on Veterans Day, November 11, 2016 from complications of COPD. She was 85. I kid myself and say she picked those days just so I wouldn’t forget…as if I would.
It’s been quite the trying year but I would give almost anything to hear her yell out for me if for no reason except that I left the room for 10 minutes and she wanted me to come back. She wanted me by her side constantly and so that is where I tried to be until I could get her to understand that I needed to pay bills, or wash some clothes or fix dinner. She had dementia which most everyone concluded was probably the reason she broke her knee in the first place. She got so disoriented at times she didn’t know she was in her own house and would try to get out of bed because she needed to get out of this ‘damn’ place. Unfortunately, her legs never got strong enough to stand, let alone walk although the therapist and I tried several times.
Near the end she had stopped eating except for a bite or two but could drink Ensure until that last Tuesday when I couldn’t even get water down her with a sponge at the end of a straw. I was getting quite worried but she screamed at me when I mentioned the hospital. I was in so much pain from a pulled muscle or pinched nerve from trying to move her away from the rails on the bed that I wasn’t sure I could tolerate walking the halls at the hospital. Over the weekend I was constantly putting ice and then heat on my hip and thigh or heat and then ice but lying down in bed was the only thing that helped. Of course I could not just forget everything and stay in bed.
Almost the minute my sister was to leave for the hospital, my pain went away and my son said it was probably so much tension that had finally been released. I think he was right.
As much as I loved my sister and she me, we had our share of squabbles with being in the same room for so long with limited conversation and the TV always loud because her hearing was bad. When the Golden Girls and Lucy went on hiatus until January 2, I thought I would go into mourning because they helped keep me sane with their antics. My sister couldn’t see the TV anymore due to her Macular Degeneration so I would put speakers on her and let her listen to Judy Garland on Youtube with my iPad. Those Garland loops were a Godsend. In hospice she listened to Mama Mia music from my iPhone and would move one foot to the music every now and then. That was her favorite movie.
Since we have a big house, my son is going to move in with me for awhile which will be good because I can barely stand to be home alone. Every sound makes me jump. I am thankful to have my nieces and nephew and I’m sure the youngest niece will continue to visit the most and bring her three grandchildren, which always makes me happy. She is the same niece who came over throughout the year and sat while I ran errands, and she does a good rendition of my sister calling out “Trish” at the top of her lungs! It makes me laugh.
One day my pain will lessen as it has done in the past when I’ve lost a loved one but I know it will never go away completely. To paraphrase Rose Kennedy, ‘to keep us sane our minds cover our wounds with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone.’ I truly believe that and intend to keep busy so hopefully I will build up some scar tissue. I’m going to need a lot this time.