Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I wondered if it would be different. If it would feel different. Not a dying patient. A dying Grandmother.

My sister and I went to her together, and seeing her instantly knew.



Not different.  Well.  It is what I do.

Both us glad that Mom and Dad hadn't arrived yet, stroked her head and told her it was ok.  That she could go.  We encouraged her to go right then and there, being selfish and wanting the moment for ourselves.

Funny that she ended up here.  Not funny Ha-Ha.

She'd never lived here.  I didn't grow up with her.  She visited once a year.  Maybe less.

I never knew her really. Not as a person, like I've come to know many of my patients. I knew her for her stylish clothes, cosmetic smells, big jewelry, coffee cake that was more crumbs than cake, crates of oranges and grapefruits sent up each winter from Florida.

When she needed help taking care of herself and was moved up here, I was living in Vermont and visited once a year.  Maybe less.

I returned. 

And she moved from assisted living to this nursing home.  And she went through a few roommates.  I'd be picky too.  She settled in with a lovely lady, Lila.  Who happened to have lived very close to where I grew up.  They got along just fine.

And?  Lila has a great grandson.  A Deaf one.  Who happens to go to school with Owen.

Funny where we end up.  And with whom.  And what becomes of our plans.

She'd made plans, fifteen years ago.  Plans for the end.  A handwritten letter to her son, my father.

Plans for WheneverWith insistence that there be No need for anyone to go running around and all that nonsense!!

Practical I suppose she was.  And a little sentimental.

Everyone has been good to me, and can remember me or not, as I was.

Or not


Funny Ha-Ha.

Mom and Dad and my brother arrived. We read her letter and laughed.  And looked at pictures and laughed.

Maybe she was waiting for the nonsense to be over.  Not two hours after we left, she left.

The end was dignified and peaceful and almost 96 years in the making.  Nothing to be sorry for. 

We should all be so lucky.

Guess that's it.

Indeed Gigi. 



  1. She sounds like a great "dame." And you gave her a dignified sendoff that seems like it'd be to her wishes. again, sorry for your family's loss.

  2. You write such great farewell letters.

  3. Been thinking of you and your family. She sounded like a great woman. I love that her "roomate's" grandson and Owen were at the same school. how random? or not. big hugs to you. xo, s

  4. Of course you come from such strong stock.

  5. I sorry to hear about your loss. Best and warmest thoughts to you and your family.

  6. I'm sorry for your loss. I hope you're doing okay ((((YOU)))))

  7. She had alot of years. I hope that most of them were good. What a great run. Love to you and your family.

  8. I guess this is where you get your no-nonsense attitude?

    A wonderful tribute, thank you for sharing with us.

  9. Sorry for your loss and as always, a pleasure to hear you tell the story of another person passing. You put in a way that makes it all seem OK.

  10. Always so sad when life ends.

    We can't help but think of ourselves.

  11. You captured this moment beautifully. I am sorry for your loss.

  12. Sorry she had to go. But at least it was after 96 years and on her own terms. Beautifully recounted.

  13. I'm sorry for your loss. You are definitely right - we *should* all be so lucky.

  14. Lady,

    Over the time I've been reading here, you have completely altered my perception of the elderly and comforted my feelings about death.

    A loss of a loved one is still a loss, but I can feel your peace with the circumstances.

  15. She waited to hear you all laughing together and then she was done. That's how my mom did it too.


  16. I am glad it was peaceful and how she wanted it.

    Hugs to you and your family.

    Hope all is well.

  17. there's something to be said for doing it on your own terms. 96 years is a lot to enjoy. sending hugs your way just the same.

  18. Her writing reminds me of ...you?

    I'm sorry for your loss. I hope your Dad is doing okay.

  19. I'm so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. She sounds like a no fuss, no muss kinda gal.


  20. Still a punch to the gut when it happens, but she sounds like someone worth celebrating.

  21. It's so difficult to lose someone close to you, especially when there are stories and winks and smiles and new memories each time you see him/her


    That said, mmmmmmm, coffee cake that's more crumbs than anything else.

  22. My thoughts go out to you. I hope my end is dignified and peaceful, and that those I love can read a letter I left and laugh to ease the tension. 96 years is a good long time. I hope it was a good time, as well.

  23. I agree with what a commenter above had to say. You write about this with a great deal of dignity and respect. Perhaps she was waiting for the family to come.

    I remember when my Dad was dying, when no one else was in the room... I stroked his hair and told him it was okay for him to go...

    ... and it was.

    *hugs* to you and your family.


  24. Sorry about your Gigi...loss just isn't great. Hoping she lands a sweet ass roomie in "the big upstairs."

    And I love the way our worlds intertwine with other people's...Lila's great-grandson and Owen as classmates. It just feels like a little magic to me.

  25. I wish I had the funny bone to write something that well.

    I mean her note. You're a good writer and all but that note is pretty epic.

  26. I'm sorry about Gigi.

    The note and the laughs you shared together were a sweet parting gift.

    96 is a great run.

  27. I'm sorry for your loss. 96! That's a good long trip in this world. Thinking of you and your family...

  28. Empress is right, we can't help but think of ourselves in these moments.

    You did her proud with your writing, Tulp. We should all be so lucky to have what she had, and to have a You!

  29. May we all be so lucky to have such a long life and family around to say goodbye when it's time to go.

  30. 96. Amazing.

    I am glad you were there.

    Hugs to you.

  31. ACK. I can't write anything yet. I have more than a few good stories. Maybe stories nobody else has.


  32. I wish you could look after me when I'm old!

  33. I love your intense love for the elderly. Not everybody has that.

    Obviously, this is about your family, not a patient, but still....you are respectful and full of compassion whenever you write about patients and your Gigi.

    Sorry about your loss. Grateful you were all together.

  34. GiGi and I shared a birthday, July 24! I hope that gives me a chance for a little of what made her so spunky!

    Great Post, I am sorry for your loss.

    It is strange what life puts in our paths.

    Love your blog

    that is all

  35. Bawling my eyes out!

    What a beautiful post!

    I still miss my grandmother every single day. I wish you and your family peace (but it seems like you are already on your way to it).

    Be blessed,

  36. I'm so sorry for your loss. My grandparents all went in not-so-great ways, but 96? And dignified? Good for her! And what is it with grandparents and the grapefruits shipped up from Florida?

  37. Fruit shipped from Florida? That sounds pretty sweet.
    Sorry for you loss. This post was a beautiful tribute.

    (Nothing I say WON'T sound like a cliche)

  38. Sigh.

    Even when it's expected, it still sucks.

  39. XO. Enjoy your walks my friend.

  40. It is odd how the cruel job of nursing slowly desensitized me to death. I suppose it is a survival mechanism which is odd cause after 30 years of being a nurse, I no longer care about my own dying. Ive grown sorta apathetic about it. Keeping folks comfortable and emotionally supported are the goals when death is imminent .

    Sorry to hear of your loss.

  41. Oh. So sorry I missed this post. Hugs and condolences for such a powerful loss! She sounds like quite a lady!

  42. it hurts to say good bye to someone no matter how old they are... my love to you and your family on your loss of Gigi. xo


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