Wednesday, August 22, 2007

goodnight johnboy

Peony was always angry. Deaf as a post, she screeched at everyone--her children included. I suspect she always had. The children were awful. Awful. Terrible terrible children. Grown women who wouldn't visit but when they did would scream right back in their mother's face. It was a good thing Peony was deaf. Remember when the car drove through her wall? Well, she slept right through it. She lived out her last days in a tiny room with the TV set tuned to The Hallmark Channel and watched Little House on the Prairie, and Matlock, and they were her company day and night. Her friends. She is the only person in a dementia unit I've ever known to work a remote to the end.

Do not go gentle into that good night (Whitman?). It was a hard road for Peony, and who am I to judge, or even consider, why? Perhaps her body, the Auschwitzy shell that carried her through these last days, was stronger than it looked.

There is so much theory and practice about human death, about grief, about how people find a way to escape this mortal coil and move on or out or up or over.... Hospice organizations swear by people needing permission from the living to die. I don't so much buy that one. I think it is the one thing we do utterly alone. The daughters, one more terrible than the other (not because of her absence but because of her presence) sat bedside, good little new-agers, and said over and over again, "Go to the light, Mother. We'll be fine. You can go. Go to the light." But she wouldn't. Couldn't. Didn't.

I think the daughters began to take it personally when she wouldn't give it up--the ghost--and they stayed and stayed and slept in the room and kept the TV off. And Peony wouldnt' couldn't didnt' die.

So one of the women who took such tender care of her tiny body waited outside her room, waited for the daughters to leave early this morning. When they did, she slipped in and turned on the television.

Goodnight Johnboy, Goodnight MaryEllen, Goodnight Peony.


Anonymous said...

That was beautiful. And it makes me wonder how often the living are so pesky to the dying.

msb said...

Judy, your works are such a inspiring tribute to the end of life on this physical plane.

someone said...

Thank you both. I don't know, Roy. This family was working out some tough stuff though.

asha said...

Sweet and bitter. My favorite combination. JudyBlueSky, Angel of Death. Got a nice ring to it. I wouldn't mind having you by my side at "the end". Hell, we'd have fun.

someone said...

a: its a date.

asha said...
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