Today I am thankful for something unconventional. Something most people would think me callous for if they weren't inclined to listen to the explanation following the words, 'today I am thankful for death.'
I was blessed to have some amazing great aunts in my life. These were the sisters of my maternal grandfather; he being a man I never met...a man whose own demons prevented him from being a father to my mother. Because of that, and because his wife (my maternal grandmother) had even bigger demons, my Mom was raised by and with these aunts. They filled the role of grandparent that was not sufficiently filled on either side of my family, and for that I am ever grateful.
My Aunt Peggy, whose given name was an elegant 'Evelyn Lucille,' was the youngest of the aunts and like a big sister to my Mom. She was tall, thin and striking. She loved nothing more than a good joke or a day shopping with her nieces. She was a load of fun to be around.
Peggy was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. I imagine it was some time in my mid-teens. The decline was noticeable from the get-go and she had been severely disabled from her illness for at least the past 10 years. Two and a half years ago we thought the end was imminent and Peggy was put into a hospice facility. You normally hear about people going to hospice right at the end, but not Peggy. She stayed in that hospice facility for over two years until they downsized earlier this year due to the economy and my uncle Norman was forced to bring her home to their tiny apartment. We didn't thinks she would live much longer after he brought her home, but once again she proved us wrong and survived another four months.
I got the call this morning from their daughter that she had passed some time this morning. She had not had a morsel of food or drink for nearly two weeks, nor had she passed any urine during that time. It is astounding that a human body could sustain itself for that long. The hospice workers believed it was because her metabolism had slowed so greatly over the past couple of years that it required close to nothing to carry on its duties. For me, though, I think she held on all this time because she was waiting for a call from someone she loved greatly...my Mom.
I won't go into all of the details as it would take pages to try and type, but because of various hurtful situations during my Mom's childhood and adulthood, she and Peggy have not talked in nearly 15 years. I had carried the burden of this for too long and have just recently been able to unload my worries over it for the most part. I think it sucks that my Mom could not be the bigger person and called my aunt. I tried desperately through the years to arrange it or get it her to at least write a letter, but it was not to be. I tried one last time when I first heard a week ago that the end was near and my Mother told me that she would not call and that she knew I didn't understand. Yep. You're right. I don't.
So while I am sad for the strong feeling I have that Peggy has been waiting these past couple of years for my mother to contact her, I am very thankful that she does not have to wait any longer. No one should have to live the end of their life the way Peggy did. For such a once-vibrant woman, this was cruel and undignified.
Peggy, I love you, and I am so happy you are no longer suffering. Tell your sisters, Mimi and Hazel, that I miss them every single day. Thank you all for being so special to me. I have always felt the presence of Mimi & Hazel watching over me and my boys and I have no doubt I will feel your presence too.