Gentle Readers,

A little over 3 years ago we adopted an 8 year old Great Pyrenees named Shadow. He was a charming fellow who was going to be put down because of age and depression. His previous owner had to give him up because she was living on a fixed income and was having trouble feeding both of them. His coming medical bills were what finally convinced them.

Last Friday it became clear that he was no longer going to be able to move around unassisted and there was no way to keep up his quality of life. We had a vet come and put him down. That sentence was incredibly hard to write. It just doesn't seem to capture the magnitude of what we did. Of what happened. We stayed with him while he fought to keep watch as he always did for us. Until he finally relaxed and let go and the thing that made him Shadow was gone.

He was so strong and so brave and so tough and so irreplaceable.

I'll always remember his patience, his gravitas and his sense of humour. His stubborn insistence that when you told him something, it was just a request to be considered. His guilty face when he had managed to steal some food (even if he hadn't gotten caught). His love, in particular, for peanut butter.

Hrm. Maybe writing this at work wasn't the best plan. Thank goodness it's allergy season.

Lydia was also very brave and stayed with us until the very end. I think it's the hardest thing she's ever had to do.

I would be very happy if we could go at least a few months without someone I care about losing someone who was special to them.
Gentle readers,
Yesterday was the memorial service for my friend Ivy. I've be trying to figure out what to write since she did died and I think if I don't do it now, I never will. So, here goes.

Ivy died a month ago. She went in to the hospital to find out why her chest hurt and her cold wasn't going away. First they thought it was a broken rib, then a collapsed lung, then pneumonia and finally cancer. Cancer in her lungs, liver and lymphatic system. Extremely aggressive cancer. Cancer that she probably only had for two months. Cancer that killed her by the end of the second week by filling up her lungs.

We waited for news as those weeks progressed watching as things got steadily worse, until there was no doubt about the outcome, just shock at the speed.

We were close by that weekend hoping to give her an award for her art but by then the prognosis had gone from maybe getting to be at home to hours to live.

Late that afternoon, we got a call saying she was asking for Cortejo and I. And so we went.

She looked well. Not like someone who was dying, aside from the various tubes and wires and monitors that pop culture uses to tell us that things are very serious. Her eyes were bright and sharp, her colour was good.

Then I noticed saw how much trouble she was having breathing and the slightly frightened look in her eyes masked by the morphine. We sat with her for a bit and made small talk. We told her about her award and she complimented my boots and garb snarked and ogled Cortejo. It's hard to talk to someone who is literally at death's door.

We were in and out of her room as the evening progressed with her needing space or rest until we were called in with a "This is it."

It wasn't it. She was ready but her body was not. Being with someone who is going to die, who has made peace with that and is ready to die and who's body won't give up is one of the most heart breaking things that I've ever had to experience.

We ended up saying our good-byes and heading out when it was clear that nothing was happening any time soon and we were just stressing people out. She died in the wee hours of the morning.

I'm glad we got to say good bye. I'm glad that she got to say her good-byes. I'm glad she didn't have to linger in pain and cause anyone to resent her sickness.

Yesterday was the memorial. Lots of people who had good things to say about how they remembered her and what she meant.

I'm glad I knew her and I feel like a steady presence has been taken from the world. I still don't quite know what it is that makes me feel so sad about this but I do know I'm not done being sad yet.

Teta Erna

Dec. 22nd, 2010 09:06 pm
Gentle Readers,

Just over an hour ago I found out that my Teta (aunt) Erna died. She was 98. A couple of hours before that we had spoken with her daughter who was on her way back over to Erna's to help with the evening activities and what she felt was the short time left. Erna had been sick for some time and the last couple of months had been pretty bad with her losing strength and starting that final slow fade.

We got to go and see her one last time about a month ago, while my parents were up visiting. We hadn't seen her since her birthday party and she was so faded since then; a shadow propped up by an indomitable spine of iron will. She had just sent a gift to Lydia who had just gotten over Pneumonia. We stopped in to see her on our way to something else so that Lydia could say thank you. We got to hug her and tell her we loved her and I think I'm very happy with the last things I was able to say to her.

She has been the matriarch on my fathers side for a long as I could remember. My grandmother died before I had integrated her into my life. Teta Erna was the person who filled that role. She was the woman who represented the history of my father's side of the family.

Once or twice a year, usually christmas and over the summer we would make the trek to see my father's family in Ottawa and my Mom's in Peterborough. Teta Erna's was where we would stay in Ottawa and she was who greeted us no matter what time we arrived, usually with food waiting. Sometimes it was Beef Stroganoff, sometimes it was Cabbage Rolls. Always there were the rolls (the best ones had bacon in them).

When I moved to Ottawa in 1996, she was a touchpoint for me, and I remember often making the trek her house in Orleans for dinner and family time. Sometimes she let me help cook.

At some point I should write about her story, but right now I need to think about her place in my story. She was a force to be recconed with. She was an Aunt in the Wodehouse tradidion. Strong, but never grim she shared her love for life with me. Living alone at 98, mostly caring for her self.

I'm tired and rambling now so you're getting kind of a stream of consciousness as I try to think about what I would say. I'm trying to think about what the one memory would be to just be her, to fix in my mind as something that is her essence. I'm not sure what that is. Right now, I think it's the joy that lit up her face whenever she saw Lydia.

For now I'm going to hang on to that.

RIP Teta Erna. The world was a better place for your having been in it. I'll miss you very much.

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