Monday, November 17, 2008

Family Matters

I'm dealing with some sad news right now.

My aunt M, who has lived in the local nursing home for many years, has been diagnosed with a dilated bowel. This is a life-threatening condition, and without surgical intervention the prognosis is pretty grim. On the other hand, intestinal surgery on a frail, bedbound elder doesn't have a very promising best outcome either. And my aunt -- always independent -- has made it quite clear that she wants no surgery or other heroic life-saving measures.

When we visited her yesterday, she was pale and quiet, curled up in her bed like a sick little bird. When she talked to me she looked past me in that way that those of us with sickbed experience find ominous; the thousand-mile stare. I mentally contrasted that picture with the aunt I remember from my childhood, a robust farm woman slinging hay bales onto a wagon and walking the perimeter of her property with me every day.

I visited her this morning during lunch. I had steeled myself for whatever I might encounter there today -- and found her in the cafeteria with her lunchmates, sipping coffee, looking fine, in a cheerful mood.

She may be well for a day, or two weeks, or a month or more. I may get "the call" tonight. It's one of those things.

Because I'm Aunt M's guardian, and because I've been through more than one health scare with her before, I've rehearsed funeral arrangements in my mind countless times. My mother's family has dwindled to almost no one, just a few octogenarian second cousins downstate, so when the time comes it's going to be pretty much just a few old family friends, Fellow Traveler, our pastor and me, at the funeral home. I'm pretty sure of the "what" and the "how"; it's the "when" that's unnerving.

Pray for us.

9 comments:

Choralgirl said...

Prayers forthcoming for both of you, LC.

Kathryn said...

And from here too, my dear. I spent this afternoon with one of my favourite older ladies, who sounds as if she's in a similar place to your aunt. Hard...

backrowbass said...

Prayers ascending for all of you.

Beth said...

Prayer's ascending

Crimson Rambler said...

prayers from here also, LC.

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

no words, just prayers.

Trish said...

Prayers to you. My grandma just died on Oct. 30th, and my siblings and I were pretty much the only family she had left. There were the 5 of us, our S.O.s, and maybe 3 family friends at the funeral, despite the fact my grandma was a well loved woman. It makes me realize even more the importance of the community when dealing with death. Having those people "with" us in difficult times is so important as we anticipate grief in the waiting, while we grieve, and as we envision the future without our loved ones.

I didn't mean to take the emphasis off of you and your pain. I just wanted to empathize with a personal story.

Peace to you.

toujoursdan said...

Adding my prayers

Processing Counselor said...

My prayers, too