Sunday, May 27, 2012

These Sisters














Aunt Fay came over to see Aunt Winnie today, to tell her that her husband had died. As soon as she walked in, Aunt Winnie said, "Keith is gone?" and so she just nodded and didn't mention it any more. My daughter, my niece and I arrived soon after. Aunt Grace was there, too. She had flown down from Toronto to be with her baby sister last week, so that she wouldn't have to attend her husband's end without at least one sister there. Today, when she came to visit Aunt Winnie, she took one look at her and decided she was in sore need of a haircut. I dispatched my daughter to get scissors from our house, and when she came back, Grace set about sprucing up her big sister, determinedly working around the fact that she is bed bound. My daughter held the plastic basket, the home attendant and I helped turn her as Aunt Grace trimmed and combed like a pro. My niece helped hold her head up so Aunt Grace could get the back of her hair. It was a group effort with more laughs than you might think, and after, Aunt Winnie looked as if she had been to the salon. As Aunt Grace worked, Aunt Fay sipped soup and seemed lost in her thoughts. She said she was still on auto pilot. But later in the kitchen, she told us about Uncle Keith's last days. She said they all gathered around him on Friday, fourteen of them in all, including his three children and three grandsons, and after the doctor pulled the plug on the ventilator they just waited. He stayed with them for another hour, Aunt Fay said, and when his breathing seemed to being getting lower, his younger daughter put her finger on his neck, wanting to feel his last pulse. My aunt held his hand in one of hers, her other hand on his head. On his last exhale, my cousin said she felt a warm breath of air pass around her, and in it she felt such peace. "It was a beautiful death," Aunt Grace said, hugging me and crying a little. "We won't all be so lucky. It was a very good way to go."


20 comments:

  1. This is all so beautiful, the haircut, the peaceful death, the peace for those left.

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  2. Good death is quite possible and it is a blessing and honor to be present at one.
    It is a blessing and an honor to see these pictures, too.
    Thank-you.

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  3. I'm very sorry for your loss. Yet, as ms. Moon says, death can be good. Or at least peaceful. Death is harder for the ones who stay behind. My grandma said she deserved a good death after living a good life.
    I do love seeing how your family is tight and close. And how much you look like your younger aunt!
    Hugs.

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    1. Miss A, thank you, hon. The aunt who looks younger is actually older. I hope i can be like her!

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  4. o, angela. i'm glad you're surrounded by so much love.

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    1. dear dottie, so should we all be. i hope.

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  5. What a wonderful way to go, with 14 concerned people at his bedside. How many of us can expect that! Death is never sad, if the gift of life has been well used.

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    1. Cro, it's sad only for those who miss the ones who've gone i suppose. thank you.

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  6. I am sorry, too, for your loss. I marvel at the beauty and simplicity of these photos, though. The fifth one, I think, is my favorite -- there's something deeply moving about the way your niece (is that who that is?) on the right is looking over at your aunt in the bed. So many generations of soul and beauty.

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    1. ELizabeth, its a fuzzy photo but there was something about that one that caught me, too. thanks for feeling what's there. xo

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  7. If you've gotta go, and I suppose we all do, that's the way to do it. Isn't it?

    I love the haircut story and photos. :)

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  8. Now this? This is how it should be. Death with dignity. It sounds like his home going was perfect.

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    1. Kim, you facilitate dignified deaths, so i trust that you know. hugs.

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  9. I'm deeply moved by the story your photographs tell, that of the secret part of women's lives. The gathering together at passings, as well as at births, at weddings, at all of life's milestones. The little haircut in the midst of mourning reminds me of when one of my sisters-in-law came to our house after our father had died and mopped the floor. It's the shouldering of the mundane and the carrying on of thew things that need to be done. And, there, look there at all of you, two generations passing it down to a third. That's primal. That's holy.

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    1. Glenn, this comment, oh, it conveys such an understanding of the ways of love. it was all of that. you perceived everything i didn't know how to say. that is such a gift. thank you, dear one.

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  10. Beautiful death, beautiful love. I agree with Glenn Meche, it's holy. Thank you for sharing, my friend.

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    1. he said just right, didn't he. thank you, dear ellen. love to you.

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