Got an e-mail this morning that Dottie, one of the people I went to see at the hospital on Saturday, died last night. All her surviving kids were with her yesterday afternoon, talking about old family stories (and with five kids in a family, you KNOW there were some good stories) and just loving on their mother.
I'm glad that she went on peacefully. As I always want to say in situations like this- she got 'er done- which may not be appropriate but it's true. Dying is so much like labor. It's a process, getting life from one plane to another and just as with labor, some dyings are slow and some are fast. Sounds to me like Dottie's was just about right. Time enough for everyone to tell her they loved her, not so long that she was suffering for days and weeks on end although she did have her share of suffering. She was mostly silent about it, she didn't really complain, ever, that I heard her, but it never took her facilities from her. She was there, all the way, up until she died.
I am so glad I went to see her on Saturday. I only spent a few minutes with her. When I got to her room she was getting an NG tube re-inserted and so I visited with the family for awhile and when she did get back from the procedure, she was exhausted and I knew it, but we spoke for a few moments. I held her hand and kissed it and told her I loved her. It's precious to me that I have the very tangible image in my head of her hand in mine, cool and still strong, smooth and soft. A visceral image, in fact.
So. This has been, as Hank has said, The Year Of Death And Weddings. I can't even tote all the deaths up in my head anymore. No need to. Take them as they come, their weight is there and this is life.
Dottie was a redhead. She was gregarious and social and accepting and smart and strong. She was an athlete in her younger years. When her daughter was dying, she did all that she could to take care of her. She had to go through that, even in her old age, going almost every day to a nursing home where Lynn was living, a place where most of the residents were no older than Dottie herself was. She bore the pain of it, the work of it, with stoicism and with grace.
Her granddaughter Molly, my own daughter Jessie's best childhood friend, made her a great grandmother, not quite a year ago. The genes of Dottie are quite and firmly apparent in that child.
She lived a good, long life. She was generous.
When I saw her on Saturday, she mentioned my mother, she mentioned Jessie's wedding. She was a reaching-out sort of woman.
I admired her. I loved her. I got to tell her that before she died.
I'm grateful. I'm so very grateful.