On the morning of February 14, 2012 I was driving to Shelby to spend time with Auntie Sis and Uncle Tuff. I had just exited the freeway when I received a call from Aunt Terry, who was in the final stages of lung cancer. Aunt said she wasn’t feeling very well and asked me to come over. As I turned my car around and headed back to Muskegon, I prayed to God for help so that Mark and I would be able to care for Aunt Terry adequately during her final days. God answered my prayer immediately and miracles started happening.
Mark and I met at Aunt Terry’s house and she was okay, though we knew she was declining. Kelly came to our rescue by offering to take a few days off of work to come home from Chicago to help us care for Aunt Terry and to help me get medically organized for the days ahead.
That night was a rough one for Aunt. She wasn’t able to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom, so Kelly and I went into the garage to find her portable toilet but we weren’t able to find the pan that went with it. Kelly spotted an old garden pail and thought it would work just fine so that is what we used. Since Aunt was having such a bad night we asked her if we should call in Hospice again. She hesitantly said we could. Two months before that we had asked Hospice to come in to help take care of Aunt Terry and after a few days she fired them. Hospice was doing a great job but Aunt didn’t think she needed them so she asked them not to come anymore.
Who fires Hospice?
Hospice came to the house the following day but Aunt still wasn’t convinced she needed them so she wouldn’t sign any papers. We were a little amused at our still very independent Aunt but a little nervous because Mark, Kelly and I needed their guidance. In the end, we let Aunt make her own decision.
On Thursday we had a great day and Mark made us a stir-fry dinner which we all ate together. Then that night, things got bad again. Aunt was very weak and unable to hold herself up, especially going to the bathroom. We vowed we would call Hospice on Friday whether Aunt thought she needed them or not. She was in a lot more pain and we needed some assistive devices to be able to help her properly.
Friday morning was still rough, so she finally agreed to sign up for Hospice. As soon as we called, they sent their wonderful caregivers over to help and they brought in a hospital bed and everything we needed to help our precious Aunt. Kelly kept asking me, “Mom, how are you and dad going to take care of Aunt Terry alone after I leave to go back to Chicago on Sunday?” Aunt was a larger woman and I was too weak to help her by myself and she was too modest for Mark to help her. For some odd reason I felt a peace and kept reassuring Kelly that her dad and I would manage okay.
On Saturday before Kelly had to leave to go back to Chicago, Aunt Terry passed away. It was her brother’s (Mark’s father’s) birthday. It was a beautiful sunny day and we all felt at peace in her room. A friend of ours, Chris Fagan, stopped by to see Aunt Terry and shortly after he arrived, Mark, Kelly, Chris and I stood by her side and held her hand and said goodbye to our feisty aunt.
Aunt Terry was a very strong woman and proved her strength during the year and a half that she dealt with lung cancer. I only saw her cry once after her diagnosis and I think it was because she understood the meaning of trust.
My friend Nancy Moody said to me the other day, “Life is a mystery. If we weren’t so darn busy all the time, we would likely see a lot more of the magic in life. Your blog reveals how your eyes are so wide open.”
I definitely think my eyes were open during Aunt Terry’s death.