4-12-1908 to 8-15-2006
2006-08-18 @ 1:39 p.m.
Nana died Tuesday. My dad called me within the hour to let me know. Last Saturday morning I was able to call her room in hospice and the girls and I both talked to her. She was very responsive, although we couldn't understand her. Here's an excerpt of the e-mail my dad sent on Monday-
"Nana had a very active day on Friday. She sat up and was trying very hard to talk. It was very frustrating to her that she couldn't make us understand what she was trying to say. We got her a white board to see if she could write but that just turned out to be scribbling. As time went on she became very agitated. Finally one of the nurses suggested we try to give her some apple sauce. Amazingly Mom was able to swallow some of that. As time went on Mom became very tired but she would not sleep. Joanne and I spent the night because Mom seemed so weak. I went home at about 2:30am and came back at 8:30am so that Joanne could get some sleep. Mom was still awake. At about 9:30 the nurses came in and gave mom a bath and that seemed to revive her. At about 10 Laura called and she and the girls talked to mom. I could tell that she really liked that and thought she was trying to smile as the great grandaughters talked to her. After the phone call mom got very agitated again. She was trying her best to tell me something but I just couldn't get it. At one point she pushed my had away and had a look in her eyes that kind of said "what an idiot you are".."
When I was told Nana was moved into hospice, I was thinking a lot about the great things I'd heard about hospice workers- how they sometimes seem very in tune with what patients need to hear to feel that it's all right for them to let go. And as complicated as I was imagining the feelings of my family were, the thought foremost in my mind was "she needs to know it's okay for her life to be over." because the thing about my grandma was that she would never leave my Auntie Jo. Auntie Jo is my dad's older sister who is a nun with the sisters of Notre Dame, and is an anthropology professor and administator at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee. Nana never considered moving to Minnesota closer to the majority of her family, largely because she wouldn't want Joanne to be alone. So in thinking about what hospice meant in regard to Nana's health, I was hoping that somehow, someone would see that maybe her worry that her selfless wonderful daughter would be left alone might keep my grandma hanging on in frustration and pain. I was hoping that somehow peace would be made for her in regards to Auntie Jo's well-being, and in retrospect I can't help but think that is what she was trying to say to her son. In any case, my Mom said Joanne spent all of Tuesday talking to Nana, and I believe that must have settled whatever worries Nana had.
Nana had all her arrangements made. So completely that there was never any questions about her feelings on resuscitation or even her funeral plans. She's being cremated, so the funeral (although the houseguest insists that it's a memorial since there is no burial) will be a week from today in Milwaukee on Aug. 25.
I don't know what to say about her really- except that she was funny, and sharp- and a woman who really saw joy in all things about her life. I can't recall ever hearing a negative word from her once. She was my favorite person I've known in my life.
How lucky I was to have such a loving vital woman to raise my father and help him raise his daughters. How lucky my daughters have been to know a great-grandmother such as she.