Where did I leave off? Oh, yeah – I brought you up to date as of Monday, 9/29, and then a brief bit on Wednesday.
Monday I drove home, and TMBWitW, MEG and I went to dinner. Kind of somber, with the overtones of my sister hanging in the air. I knew it was serious, but I didn’t know how serious.
Tuesday morning, my sisters LC and AW picked me up at the church property, where I had left MEG with the pastor’s wife. We got up to Flagstaff about noonish, just in time to say hi to LeaAnn and grab a bite to eat. I showed LeaAnn the latest picture of MEG, and told her that she was looking forward to meeting her Aunt Yannie very soon. We spent the afternoon talking, playing cards, and visiting with LeaAnn (“visiting” being an active word, since the visitor would do the talking, as suggested by the wonderful Hospice nurse); once LeaAnn’s best friend Sandy came in, the visits stopped for a while so that Sandy could finish reading (out loud) the latest novel that LeaAnn was reading when she could no longer hold her head up, much less hold the book.
Tuesday evening, the Hospice nurse went over, once again, the things we should all watch for as LeaAnn went through what Hospice calls “actively dying” – that is, the person will progress through particular stages and certain things can be expected. Afterward, LeaAnn’s other best friend (LeaAnn had a lot of best friends) CJ (no, it’s not another abbreviation, that really is how she is addressed) went over what the contents of LeaAnn’s living will were. LeaAnn wrote the document in 2003, knowing that when the time came her family would not have to make the decisions that were going to need to be made. After going over the living will, CJ stepped outside, for a breath of air she said – and pretty much couldn’t stop crying. I walked over to where she was trying to hide, behind the motor home, and I gave her a big old hug and thanked her for doing what none of us wanted done, for doing what none of wanted to have to be done. I told her she was a true friend, to do this for LeaAnn.
Wednesday morning dawned bright and clear, as it does in Flagstaff at this time of year. Hospice came out, and gave LeaAnn a sponge bath (part of making her comfortable – there is a whole balancing act to work between comfort and consciousness for the patient). Hospice had been trying to get a hospital bed for LeaAnn all week – there wasn’t one available in the Northland. I asked if it was possible to arrange for me to get one while I was in Phoenix on Thursday, and bring it up Friday – the Hospice nurse was very straight forward, and said that most likely LeaAnn would not make it that long. I thanked her for her candor.
Someone – either CY or SC – took Mom into town to get her hair done.
LC and I headed for town to run some errands – she needed to stop by the credit union, we needed to find some music that LeaAnn had specifically requested for her service, there were a couple of ice cream cones at the Dairy Queen with our names on them, my brother has requested some sourdough english muffins for Mom’s breakfast – and we had a 1400 meeting with Kay at Norvel Owens. We were a bit early, but Kay came out and started the proceedings anyway – she was very accommodating and quite pleasant. We had gotten through a good portion of the details, and were talking about when to call Norvel Owens, when LC’s phone rang. It was AW, with the news that LeaAnn had passed. That pretty much solved the question on the timing of calling them.
By the time LC and I made it back out to the house, Hospice had already been there and declared. LC and I brought the rest of the family up to speed on the decisions that needed to be made. N.O. was called, and while we were waiting for them to come out we cleared the way for the stretcher to make it into LeaAnn’s room. A small sewing machine case that was being used as a washstand (non-functional, she does have running water!) needed to be moved, but it couldn’t be picked up at the ends – it was rather fragile. I did a full leg squat, picked it up, and side-stepped it towards the kitchen and set it back down. LC and Mom said I looked very graceful while dancing with a small chest. I replied that I had danced with a few small chests in my time, then said that didn’t come out right…
CY was standing at the pantry, staring down the hall towards LeaAnn’s room, and watching the gentlemen from Norvel Owens working. I turned my niece around, and held her so she couldn’t watch. She was absolutely devastated by the whole thing, and didn’t need to watch LeaAnn leave. A few minutes after LeaAnn left, LC and AW gave me a ride down to Phoenix.
I spent Thursday morning replacing the radiator in the QX4. It was a lot easier than I expected, and I was finished in about an hour and a half.
Friday morning, TMBWitW called in for bereavement leave. My cousin, CT (the one who had called me the previous Sunday) came over to run through Amazing Grace with me. I picked up my older brother, DK, at the airport about 1115 and met TMBWitW and MEG at My Mother’s Restaurant for lunch. From there, DK and I went north. We got out to the house, changed, and headed back into town for the service. All six of us, and Mom, were there. There were several “fifth brother” and “fourth sister” types there, all of whom were a part of our family as we were growing up. LC and I sang Amazing Grace while CT played the piano. There were a lot of memories of LeaAnn, and we celebrated her life.
Back at the house, there was food and goings-on until the wee hours. DK, AW and I had to get up and go pretty early, so we turned in before the night got too old.
We left Flagstaff about 0830, and dropped AW off at the airport about 1045. DK and I went back to my house, where he showered and changed, and then we sat and visited until it was time to get him to the airport for his flight.
And I have been processing the proceedings since then; reading the comments from people I have met on line and realizing that I have something priceless – the support of friends.
Thank you, all, for the thoughts and prayers and well-wishes.