Most of the following post was written in July of 2011, after the wife of my next door neighbor of many years passed away. Her husband turned 91 earlier this week, and I only hope he knew it.
Because the last time I talked to him, he had no idea how old he was. He has followed his late wife down the road of dementia, and it has taken someone who was once a wonderful person and neighbor with it. He still has some lucid days, but is under 24 hour care at home.
Fortunately, he has a large, loving family.
And now, with some editing, that post:
Today at work, I heard that the mother of a co-worker had passed away.
When I went to the local online obituary, I saw a name I knew well. Not
her, but a different obituary.
It was my next door neighbor of over 20 years.
She had passed away yesterday. Her death was fall related.
I immediately called my spouse. He already knew, and, in fact, had just
come from their house, where he visited with family for 40 minutes. (I
visited tonight, as out of town family started to arrive.)
Her husband....her widower....seemed to be taking it well. He said to
my husband "She died on the 4th of July. She went out with a bang."
They had celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary less than a week ago. In the last stages of dementia, she never knew it.
I don't care what they say about old age. It stinks. It robs
us of the essence of what we are. Don't talk to me about the "golden
years". There is nothing golden about those years. Those years took
the mind and then the life of a wonderful woman, who was loved by
everyone who knew her. My neighbor was a deacon of her church. She was a retired elementary school
librarian. She did a lot of charity work. She raised six children and
at least, tonight, her husband is surrounded by their very large family.
(Her husband was an only child and wanted a large family very much. He
got it, thanks to her.)
She loved romance novels. She had hundreds of them, and she kept trying
to give some to me. She was an avid reader. She loved to have her
grandchildren over to visit.
She spent so much of the last couple of years of her life a prisoner of
her living room chair. Her husband, once a telephone lineman, aged at
her side. He told me, tonight, that "I am happy". We talked to their
youngest son, and he talked about her death. It was a good death.
About two weeks ago, her voice became very slurred. Then she stopped
eating. Then she stopped drinking. She drifted away, asleep almost all
of the time.
She died surrounded by the ones she loved, at home.
Her husband has also has a lot of health problems. I don't want to say it out loud, but I fear for him now.
They were so much younger and full of energy and love of life when I
first met them. So was my mother in law, and my spouse's aunt who is
99, and my good friend's mother, who is 92 [she passed away in 2013], and....
Like all of us, I must come to terms with my aging. I may be looking at my eventual fate. And perhaps that is what
is affecting me now, as much as the passing of a woman great in her own
As Bette Davis once said "Old age is no place for sissies."