I only called because that nagging voice in my head insisted. Otherwise I might have waited. “How are you doing? ” she wanted to know. “Maybe we will get together next week.” Here was the perfect opening. She continued with all of her 98 years of habits and communication style. She could talk over me and talk on and on. I wasn’t going to let her.
Who Do You Want To See Before You Die?
“Florence. Stop. Wait. You don’t have to see anyone” I told her. Florence sounded like she was on automatic pilot. “Of course I want to see everybody. Everybody knows that I love them.” She started reminiscing how her daughter’s friends had become hers and how they aren’t just friends. They are family. She began listing people. “Stop” I insisted. She was halted in her tracts only by my insistence. I continued quickly before she could. It was the only way that I knew how to completely get her attention.
“Have you made a list of people whom you would feel badly about if you didn’t see them before you pass away? ” I could almost hear her wheels turn. She hadn’t. She thought for a few minutes and mentioned two people. I asked her if her niece in New York would be coming out? “No” was the answer. She had told me a week ago that she would see her in February, and I wanted to know why she told her that she would see her in February. ” Why do you think that you have that much time?” I asked. (This was new territory for both of us and I wonder if either one of us is used to having this kind of honesty about such a delicate and often taboo subject.)
Forgot About The Marijuana Oil?
She had a logical answer. Her next doctor’s appointment was two months away. The doctor said something like “See you in two months.” Did that mean she had months even a year left? Furthermore, she was feeling no physical pain in her body. She was relying on her memory of people who had left the earth years ago. They all had pain shortly before they passed away. She thought that it was a straight line, so to speak, from point A to point B. She didn’t seem to account for the fact that she was getting marijuana oil to manage her comfort levels.
She started to go off on a tangent. “Remember when we went out to lunch with Dinah?” Yes I remembered. How could I forget? This woman of almost ten decades was good at this tactic .
“Florence is your cancer in your lungs and in your ovaries?” That is what I was told, but needed to hear it directly from her. “Yes” was her answer. “The doctors can’t tell you if it will or if it has spread.” That was a statement. I told her that I new people who were told that they had months to live, and died within a few weeks. She took this all with the grace of a woman who is as she said “ready for her next adventure.”
There was not one bit of sadness in her voice. For those who know her, it is a different story. I dare say that It is grief for some of us who are still stunned and thawing out to the realization that our beloved Florence will soon be no more on this plain. We are heartbroken as is to be expected. Hearts are meant to be stretched and filled to the brim so that they can also break and know that they can rebound and do it over and over again.
I was impressed that she stayed right there with me. She didn’t object to my questions and comments. I have to think that it is because of the years that we have together, and the trust and honesty that we have. That is all that we have to go on now. In spite of the swirling confusion and misunderstandings from medications, family dynamics, and other normal logistics, the essence of what is important can still be found and stated. How refreshing and wonderful!
We ended the conversation with an agreement that we would see each other on Sunday, along with Laurie, another member of her tribe, if she felt like having a visit. Florence had the last comments as she so often does.
Granola and Heaven
How do we know that there is a heaven? What if there isn’t? We can’t take this stuff so seriously. I am almost 99. This is getting ridiculous. I have one appointment after another. It isn’t so much fun. Did you ever hear what someone said from heaven? If the granola wasn’t so good, we would have been here a long time ago!