|Clockwise from left, Fay, Beulah, Grace, Maisy, Gloria and Winnie on September 7, 2010|
Aunt Grace was taken to the hospital this afternoon. She has infected fluid around the lungs and heart and is resting, not particularly comfortably. But she is being treated with antibiotics and anti inflammatories and is being monitored by my sister-in-law, a cardiologist. I just spoke with her.
I called my mom and updated her, because no one else had told her anything more than that Aunt Grace has the flu. Yesterday she complained to me that her sisters were trying to minimize how serious everyone's illnesses are. She said, "I am not a child or an idiot who has to be protected from the truth. Of course I'm going to worry if someone is in the hospital and of course I am going to be sad if a loved one dies, but we are all in the departure lounge now, and we have had long and good lives, so this is how it is."
In Virginia, my cousins thought Aunt Maisy would die last night, so labored was her breathing. She, too, has a lung infection, which the nurses treated all afternoon and evening, while several of my cousins who live in the area, and many of their friends gathered in Aunt Maisy's hospital room, about a dozen souls in all, singing to her, reading her favorite verses, and laughing at family jokes and generally being festive around her. My cousin Karen said her mom would periodically open her eyes and see that someone else had joined them, and she would brighten for a moment and then drift off again.
My mom called them in the midst of this, and told Karen to instruct her mom that she was not allowed to "usurp" her position. My mom said, "Tell Maisy she is third in line and she is not allowed to go before Winnie or me. That is the rule." To which my other cousin Helen said, "But Aunt Gloria, of all the sisters, who is the one most likely to flaunt the rules?" They all had a good laugh over that, because Aunt Maisy has indeed always been the rebel rule-breaker.
Helen, who is something of a mystic, leaned over Aunt Maisy at one point and said to her, "Aunt Maisy, you do whatever it is you want to do. If you want to stay here for a while longer, we will be so happy for the time with you, but if you want to go, you know that there are many others waiting to welcome you. So do what you want. We will be okay."
Around midnight, the breathing treatments seemed to be starting to work, and the loud wheezing that had punctuated the afternoon began to grow softer and Aunt Maisy's breaths easier. One by one the group took their leave, except Aunt Maisy's son, who stayed the night in the recliner next to her bed. This morning, Aunt Maisy apparently looked much brighter. She opened her eyes and said to her son, "Well, what a party we had here last night!"