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"Getting old is NOT for sissies"


I have the privilege of being with a dear aunt as she goes through the final days of her life. She is currently in Hospice care, resting as comfortably as possible until she is ready to leave us. Several times in my life I have been in the position of being with loved ones as they approached the end of their life. Hours of watching and waiting and thinking can really wear a person down. At a certain point, silly sets in, at least for me. Tonight, a friend and I sat with my aunt. We started telling funny, fond stories of finely aged loved ones we've lost. They say that those nearing death can still hear what is happening around them, so I hope my aunt enjoyed the joyful noise of our laughter.

I told stories about my grandmother who had dementia. She would tell long, involved, nonsensical stories peppered with the word, "Consequently." For example, "I'm here [in the nursing home] because I got hit by a car with big dogs in it and loud music playing. Consequently, these two angels came and painted my nails."

I told stories of my Nana, who insisted, "YES! and 2!" in the hours before her death. Perhaps that's the answer, instead of 42.

My grandfather had Alzheimers, and I shared his favorite line: "I know you," which he said when he knew he knew you but had no idea who exactly you were.

The more we laughed and remembered, the less scary and sad the unavoidable impending separation felt like it will be. During our conversation, I felt tempted to write collection of essays or a memoir based on the funny nuggets of life that happen with elder care in addition to the heart wrenching and grief. It reminded me of the song "Only God Can Save Us Now" by Over the Rhine. If you haven't heard it, check it out. With aging and its effects on life, there is humor as well as sadness--both made more beautiful by the juxtaposition.

#strangerthanfiction

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