Nicely done

The week before Christmas, i went to have lunch with Edna again.  Her daughter-in-law took the opportunity to scoot out for some necessary shopping – and a caregiver break.  Hauling in some home made chicken noodle soup, zucchini bread* and oatmeal cookies, we had a chance to just sit and catch up a bit.

Most of the conversation was on the subject of Edna’s frustrations with the current situation.  She bemoaned her loss of independence, as well as the general annoyance of having people living with her – even if it was for her own care and safety.  Family drama was at the forefront as well, with holidays bringing conflicting familial obligations and logistics nightmares.

Complaining that her daughter-in-law wouldn’t let her do anything, she offered me a cup of coffee.  Getting the message loud and clear, i stood back and let her go fix me a cup.  Terminally ill, and rail thin, she managed it quite well.  Tasted pretty good, too, with some of those oatmeal cookies.

Once she’d vented, she moved on to the subject of death.  She said “I just want to be done with it”.  It was her plan to send her son and daughter-in-law back home after the holidays and let go.  She was ready. 

The home health care nurse, provided by Hospice, came by for a visit while i was there.  Edna weighed in at 59 pounds.  That’s about 35 pounds less than my dog weighs.  With the approval of the nurse, we planned a short visit with the people at work after the new year.  So long as Edna brought her walker, the nurse said it should be ok for a short outing.

Her plans for New Year’s Eve?  Stop taking her medications that morning and open a bottle of Zinfandel that night!  A gentle reminder from the nurse that given her weight, a drink or two would probably be plenty.  Edna suddenly seemed slightly hard of hearing…

i got the call early this morning that Edna died before dawn.  As she wanted it, she was home, she was asleep, and without pain.  She donated her body to the local medical school, and they were there to retrieve her body within a couple hours.  She requested no memorial service, no funeral, and no fuss. 

Though i’ll probably wait a week, i will check in with her daughter-in-law to see if she was able to open that bottle of wine…

Thank you, Miss Edna.  It has been my pleasure…


* Another friend provided the soup and bread, as my cooking is often suspect.  When we were trying to put weight on Edna, i made her a strawberry banana smoothie, infused with protein powder.  This led to a rather serious bout of greased intestines, so Edna accused me of trying to kill her.  We all agreed that it would be best for me to stick to cookies in the future…


30 thoughts on “Nicely done

  1. I am in awe of Edna. Thank you so much for sharing her story – I can honestly say she’s had quite an effect on me, without ever having met her.

  2. …and the final chapter in the book of Edna. Indeed, going out with grace and on her terms.

    I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, daisyfae. But she lived her life as she wanted and she died her death as she wanted. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. We could all take a lesson from Edna, methinks.

  3. I’m sorry to hear that but I completely understand her choice. It’s EXACTLY what my mom did last May. She saw the road in front of her, didn’t like it, and stopped taking all her meds except for morphine. I hope I have the guts to take matters into my own hands when the time comes.

  4. Passings are difficult, no matter the circumstances. But I find great comfort in a dignified end to a life well lived. She sounds like a great lady.

  5. ginny – she was a blast, from the beginning of our acquaintance to the end. we should all be so functional… i hope i am when i really need to be…

    annie – there was a certain amount of luck involved. it can’t always work out that way. i was disappointed that dad couldn’t get his final days at home, but sometimes it isn’t possible…

    rob – i admire how she lived, as well as how she died. no excuses, no expectations. generous to those who deserved it, and tough on those who didn’t. it’s easier to say goodbye to a woman with no regrets…

    syncopated eyeball – thank you. knowing that she went out the way she wanted, with no unfinished business, makes it easier to say goodbye…

    unbearable banishment – i think that’s the foundation of my fascination with folks who face death with grace and strength. i’m not sure i will be able to do it. and the time will come. it always does.

    nursemyra – thanks. may have to suffer through some zinfandel in her honor! thinking of bringing a bottle into the old office friends for a toast next week…

    sally – she was a gem! the way i’d like to imagine us ol’ “Pub” broads are going to be when we’re 80! ‘cept we’ll be swilling whiskey…

    tNb – my pleasure. she was one of my favorite people… everyone should know an ‘edna’…

    chris – this one was easier, not only because it was expected, but because she wasn’t suffering. i think we do a shitty job in the US with pain management, especially with the dying. she was a gem, and got to do it the way she wanted.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss but so happy you were able to see her. Her making coffee for you is just wonderful. You were the best friend to let her do it herself. what a blessing that her New Years Eve wish came.
    A truly wonderful lady.

  7. That reminded me of my Mum just before she died – she must have weighed about the same. I was there with her, as was the TG – it was time.

    OK, time for a snifter [and a small ‘sniff’] – *hugs*

  8. Oh man, I am so sorry for your loss. However, I am very happy that Edna went out the way she wanted, and WHEN she wanted. That’s not easy to accomplish these days, what with med professionals regulating how and when you should be able to leave this world — as if they had been the ones to decide when you should come into it.

    Cheers to Edna and to you, Daisyfae for being a good friend to her.

  9. So glad Miss Edna got her wish for her body. My father died just in November and through a mixup with the nursing home, the attending doctor and the transport his body didn’t get looked at for four days – too late to be donated as his wish had been and we had to rush a cremation. Thank you for sharing her story Daisyfae – I’ll lift a glass to her this evening.

  10. a life well lived and a death with a certain amount of dignity, it’s what we should all strive for, take it easy Edna wherever you are and here’s hoping they have a bottle of zinfandel waiting.

  11. What an amazing lady …. and what an amazing friend for recognizing that she needed to make that coffee for you.
    Thank you for sharing Edna with us ….. again.
    I shall drink a glass for her ….. and you.

  12. mongoliangirl – i think i was her last visitor. i was there wednesday, and she had stopped eating a week later… hope it wasn’t my cookies…

    hisqueen – she didn’t get that new years eve wine, but she did get it ‘over with’….

    DP – there’s nothing like a strong woman… even at the end. maybe especially at the end…

    jimmy – i just hope i have a fraction of her toughness when i need it…

    fragrant liar – oh, she told those medical professionals to shove it on more than one occasion. no formal medical training, she knew what made sense for her and what didn’t. cancer 3X and lived to 80? not bad…

    mine – thank you for stopping by. sorry about the loss of your father – never easy. and the mix up? ugh!

    kono – as good as it can get, isn’t it? the last week was apparently unpleasant. but beats the hell out of months of suffering indignities and pain in a hospital with tubes out yer ass…

    healingmagichands – it really doesn’t always work out so simply, but i think that’s why i like this particular situation… she did get to call the shots…

    blazngscarlet – thank you. when she was my office administrator? she moved mountains for me, took bullets for me, and kept me in line with the powers that be… it was a small thing to let her feed me coffee…

  13. I am so sorry for your loss. The loss of a family member or good friend is never easy and death is a selfish thing. We miss the people for what they brought to our lives and for what they meant to us but some times we need to see death for what it is, release from pain, suffering and even heart ache.

  14. alljoedirt – good to see you back! it helps when the person can tell you that she is ready to die. so much easier to let go when you can hear that…. thanks for stopping by.

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