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10 days ago my great great aunt took a turn for the worse at age 91. This morning, she passed on.
It has been a challenging time for the family, as our oldest member’s health declined. I had originally agreed with some of my aunts that it would be best not to tell my grandmother that her aunt wasn’t doing well. The two of them were born 10 years apart, and spent time time together traveling the world. Given grandma’s dementia, I thought it would be easiest for everyone if she was kept in the dark. Something funny happened one evening though.
My great great aunt was to be moved to hospice care at 6pm. Right about that time, my grandmother started acting different. She had turned the tv off and was very solemn and introspective. As she stared at nothing in particular, I asked her what was up. She said she was just thinking about what a nice life she has had and how much time she has left. A few minutes later, I got her to sit in front of the tv and watch something. She was still letting out heavy sighs and finally said she felt like she had a week left to live and she needed to give away all of her things. I thought the timing of this was very interesting. Somehow, she knew someone was going to die.
On Thursday, my mom, my aunt, and I all had a sudden change of heart. We all felt like it would be unfair to keep the two oldest women in our family from saying goodbye to each other. It was a tough decision for me because I felt like there was no correct answer. I wanted to choose the path that would lead to the least amount of anxiety and stress for grandma.
I broke the news to her that day that her aunt was in hospice care. She took it hard. The anxiety makes her short term memory so much worse, so I had to repeat the details multiple times. Hearing multiple times that your loved one is dying can’t be easy. She had dreams about her all night that night.
We went to see her aunt on Friday. By all accounts, she was an adventurous, giving, and caring person. She had traveled all over the world, and could always tell you where to go when you were traveling. She was also a great teacher. Even this past thanksgiving, she was acting like a teacher, while watching the toddlers play.
After my iMac died last year, I didn’t have the money to replace it for a few months. It was one of the worst things that could happen to a photographer. When she heard about this, she generously offered me all of the money I needed for a 27″ iMac. I was stunned by her gift. I was even more stunned when she wouldn’t let me pay her back this Christmas. I really wanted to thank her one last time and let her know that I will never forget her kindness and that I would pay it forward someday, when I could.
Unfortunately, when we got to the hospice care, on Friday, she was very drugged up and unable to speak like she could the previous day. Some nurse had started giving her morphine in the night, which I don’t think the family wanted to happen. We didn’t get to have that last conversation, but we got to hold hands and see each other one last time. No words were needed for me to see how much she appreciated me taking care of her niece.
This was edited with Snapseed, Mextures, LensFlare, and DistressedFX. LensFlare was used to add light to the lighthouse.