After I retired as Parish Visitor, one of the ladies I visited regularly called me. She was having some health issues and none of her adult children lived nearby. She wanted to hire me a few hours a day until she felt better. I was happy to help out. Took her to several doctor’s appointments to find the cause of her debilitating pain. I grocery shopped, ran errands and whatever we had for supper at home, I brought over for Lois the next day because she was unable to stand for more than a couple minutes at a time.
She was in a lot of pain and had lost her spark. I was worried when she stopped reading the daily paper. Her orthopedic specialist discovered compression fractures in her spine and recommended surgery. She spent a couple days in the hospital. When she came home there was a hospital bed in the living room because her bedroom was on the second floor. With some rehab she bounced back quickly. I was relieved when her feisty demeanor returned.
Not long after Lois decided it was time to move closer to her daughter who lived across the state. We took a road trip to inspect an independent living complex her daughter Carla suggested. Lois chose an apartment in the back of the facility, overlooking a small pond. She listed her home and sold it within a week. Carla came over to help sift through the house her mom had called home for 40 plus years.
Movers loaded up her belongings while I drove Lois to her new home in early July of 2014. We spent a couple nights in a rental apartment in the facility until her furniture was in the apartment. We had our house on the market at the same time and would be moving closer to our kids which put us a good hour away from Lois. Oh the irony. Until we moved in 2015, whenever we visited Josh & Erica I’d stop and see Lois who lived a few miles away. She made friends quickly, starting with the group who sat at the same supper table with her every night.
Once we moved to Jackson I drove over to visit Lois every few months with the exception of strict Covid restrictions during 2020. We’d go out for lunch (Red Lobster), maybe stop at Meijer or for an ice cream cone, then visit for the afternoon. I’d bring her a bowl of potato salad and some homemade cookies. We talked non-stop.
In between visits I’d send her a ‘thinking of you’ card every so often. Although I mailed numerous cards to multiple people at the same, every time I sent a card to Lois, she’d call to thank me. Every. Single. Time. Several of her oldest friends had moved or passed away. Whenever we got together it was like no time had passed since we last got together. We had history.
Other than having a couple teeth give her grief, she didn’t have many health issues since she moved. But there’s been some subtle changes. Recently she’s been in the hospital 3 times. Two piggyback hospitalizations caused by a new diverticulitis diagnosis. She called to discuss her new diet restrictions (telling me to skip the potato salad this time but knew chocolate chip cookies without nuts would be fine). She was feeling better and slowly re-introducing some foods.
About a month ago she fell doing laundry. She was okay but dreaded walking all the way to the laundry room down the hall because there are only a couple washers and dryers and not good chairs while she waits (there is a laundry service and she could afford it, but she doesn’t like the way they fold her stuff-hahaha). I told her it was time for me to visit and coordinate her laundry duties when I’d be there for the day. (We no longer eat out, I either bring lunch along for us or stop at Jimmy John’s) before I get to her place.
Close to celebrating her 92 birthday, Lois had it together. She read the paper on her iPad everyday, played cards in person and on her tablet, always had her nose in a novel and checked her email a couple times a day. We talked around Easter and the plan was to visit her on April 27th and bring lunch (and homemade cookies). If something came up we’d email before and change the date. I sent her a quick note on Monday the 25th to confirm my visit but she didn’t answer me, so I called her Tuesday.
Carla answered the phone (sinking feeling). Said her mom had fallen a few days before and had been taken to the hospital as a precaution. She seemed fine and they brought her back to the apartment. But a day later she wasn’t making sense and slurring her words. She had a brain bleed and explicitly told the doctor and family, no extraordinary measures or feeding tube to keep her alive. Hospice was brought in the next day.
Told Carla how sorry I was and that I’d planned to come the following day. She said, “Oh, I remember mom saying you were coming, but not what day. I should have called, but this happened so fast. Denise, they don’t think she’s going to make through the night.” She didn’t.
Why didn’t I go the week before? Because my week was plumb full with a doctor’s appointment and a haircut. Ugh. Too little, too late. I’m sorry Lois. You are missed my friend…