I mentioned, maybe a month ago, that my aunt M, who's a long-term nursing home resident, was diagnosed with a twisted bowel; that she refused invasive treatment -- understandable given her age and health -- and that we were on standby for the inevitable result of that.
I got a call from the nursing home today, and M's nurse -- a very lovely, kind woman who's been with M for the long haul -- told me that M has begun to fail rapidly and that I should be prepared for the end.
So at lunchtime I visited M. She is deathly pale, and birdlike, and didn't open her eyes when I entered her room. She answered my questions in monosyllables, and made it clear that she was simply tired and wanted to rest. I had an unnerving flashback to the day before my mother died, when she became almost belligerant, and it felt like part of her had already gone.
Unlike my recent health scare, this is not a shock; it's something I've been mentally preparing for, for awhile now. But it's still sad to experience; and it's sad to see M's aides, who've taken care of her for so long, sad. M's nurse told me some of the staff were asking her to "do something," and she had to explain to them that we were all trying as best as we could to honor M's wishes for her care.
Tomorrow I need to call the funeral home where, a decade ago, we arranged her funeral plan, and make sure it's still what we think she'd want today.