Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not for Sissies

Referring to post of September 10, where wrote of Episcopal Women's group, I went yesterday and felt surprised how high my comfort level was. I have really missed meeting with women.

Well of course there was lots of food. There was pumpkin bread and a whole plate of sticky little balls pasted together (there's a name for it in French). There were cookies and muffins and brownies and one plate of grapes. I just love to be AROUND food, plus a room full of old and not so old women felt so great. I do enjoy being around people my own age.

Well, true to being this age, the topic was hospice. The young woman speaker just loves her job (reminded me of a New Yorker short story some time ago, where the narrator says the hospice folks had a "crush on death.") Being that she was doing her job, our speaker wore an olive colored gabardine suit and pumps and she presented the whole topic of helping you die with great tact--if not with total honesty.

E.g., she stated that "Morphine helps you breathe and it doesn't hasten death."

"I don't believe that," the old woman next to me whispered. She was a tiny thing, and beautifully turned out in small lime green and black print over black slacks. During the talk, she was whimpering and squirming recalling the pain of her husband's final illness--twenty years ago. "It doesn't get better," she said to me.

Myself, I felt I'll always have a steely glint in my eye for hospice; it was traumatic. But I think I'm past the PTSD; it's just a memory now I'm pretty sure. The love from church and among our family held us up. And hospice was certainly the best choice for Denny, which was what those final weeks and months were about.

"Why did you come today if it's so painful?" I asked the unhappy woman.

"I forgot what the topic was going to be," she answered.

Walking home, leaning on my cane, I felt glad to have been with the Episcopal women. Nurtured and also hopefully nurturing for someone else. And wondering at what might lie ahead. Maybe the lovely old woman after two years thought she'd be OK, that it was just a memory. You never know what's coming round the bend, especially descending the slippery slope of old age.

Whatever comes, we will be together.


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