Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Lonely

38 Comments

I’ve been wondering, lately, what it’s like to be bedridden, with failing eyesight, sitting for more than a year in a small room, dependent on other people to do everything for you.

I’ve been wondering what it’s like to never know what your next meal will be, but being certain you won’t want to eat any of it. Except the ice cream.

With Buddy

What is it like to know you’ll never have a piece of fresh fruit, or your favorite holiday meal again. To spend your days waiting. For visitors, for your medications, for someone to change your sheets, bring you another blanket, a fresh pillow.

What’s it like to know the only escape from this room will be death?

She and I had a nice visit on Monday afternoon. She was in a good mood; the sun was shining and she let me open the blinds so she could see the light. She told stories from the old days, stories about her husband and her son, long gone before her, stories about growing up in northern Minnesota and the winters there.

She was surprised and a little proud of the fact that she was a hundred and two and a half years old. She never imagined she’d outlive so much of her family, so many friends.

The last birthday party.

Tuesday she was less jovial. Her clothes weren’t hung up correctly, the light hurt her eyes, lunch had been terrible, the staff wasn’t helpful.

Mostly she was lonely.

And that’s my one regret. That there wasn’t some way to keep her entertained, to get more people to visit, even for a few minutes, to convince her to get out of bed and into her wheelchair to explore the facility.

A few years ago during happier times.

I wish I had taken her fresh grapes and half a banana last week. Or that personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut she talked about my last day with her. Oh I know I baked her favorite cookies on occasion, and I brought her flowers from our garden, and a pretty white tree with pink bows and birds on it that my sister made for her. I know most people would think I did enough.

But she was lonely.

And that’s why I’m not sad that she escaped her room Saturday morning. Today her eyes work just fine and she’s enjoying the company of her husband and her son and all her sisters and many of her brothers. Today she’s hugging her mom again, and spending time with her dad. Today she’s dancing again. And best of all, today she is no longer lonely.

Aunt V’s 100th birthday

A few months ago she and I talked about what might be waiting on the other side. She didn’t want to talk about that much, she insisted she didn’t want to leave us, that she’d miss us once she had to go. I asked her if she’d try, once she was there, to find a way to give me a sign that she was alright. She grinned and said she’d be sure to do that.

So today begins my wait. I’ll be waiting to see what she comes up with, how she’ll let me know she’s safe and warm and happy. I know in my heart that she is.

But for now I’m just a little lonely.

Last Monday, it was a good day.

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Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

38 thoughts on “Lonely

  1. I don’t know what to say, Dawn. I feel like I know Vi after all the posts the last few years.

    This is a beautifully written piece.

    My condolences to you and Bruce.

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  2. Oh Dawn. This is beautifully written. I know that you took such great care of your Aunt and that she loved having you there. I feel the same way about my mom. I feel that I can never do enough and what I can do is pitifully little in the big scheme . I giggled about the clothes not being hung right –that’s a real thing, isn’ t it? I know that the next few days will be difficult but knowing that she is no longer lonely has to make you feel a little bit better. I am so glad you were able to spend so much time with her. What a gift. Keeping all of you in my thoughts and prayers.

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  3. Dawn, this is beautiful.

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  4. Thank you Dawn for this insightful and touching piece. I am sorry for your loss of your aunt. It may be a relief for them, but it’s a loss for us.

    Mom was nearly 102 when she died, and although she stayed engaged until her death, she was lonely. And nothing I could do was enough.

    As I write, my paternal aunt is 102 and three months, hanging on. She lives in her own home in a retirement village and has had a caregiver for 16 years, and now full-time care, including hospice. Why she hangs on (after pneumonia and flu and mouth sores in December), I don’t know. She, too, has been lonely. Her sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren all live in different cities.

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    • Aunt Vi would have loved to have been able to stay in her own apartment, but we couldn’t work that out. She was very unhappy in the nursing home and that was so hard to see. It’s also hard when family is spread out all over the country, but we all do the best we can.

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  5. Dawn, I’m so sorry for your loss of Aunt Vi — but what a long-lived legacy she leaves behind! I know you’ll take comfort in the days and years ahead from the fact that you did what you could to ease her loneliness. And that she’s been set free from this world (and all its problems) and is enjoying the better life in eternity. I’ll be interested to hear what she sends you!

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  6. Dawn, you’ve written this so beautifully you brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps tickling the back of my neck. Sadness for those who love Aunt Vi, but freedom and relief for her.

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  7. This is so beautiful, Dawn. I almost feel as if I know Aunt Vi from your posts.
    I’m so sorry for your loss, but happy That Aunt Vi is with her husband and son and brothers and sisters. I hope she gets in touch with you soon. ♥

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  8. So sorry to hear about your Aunt Vi. You wrote this so beautifully…

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  9. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that Aunt Vi is gone. It has been clear that you were fond of her and she seemed like a remarkable woman. But, at the same time–my mom was 14 years younger than Vi, and during her last year, her health and energy spiraled ever downward. She kept saying that she wanted to get better, but then she’d close her eyes and go somewhere else. She still lived at home, and my sister was there to care for her. But she was oh so lonely without Dad, really enjoyed so little any more, and from a woman who was always upbeat, it was hard to see, and so as much as I miss her, it was clearly her time to go and, if there is something beyond this life, I hope that she, also, is with Dad. So, yes, i’m just saying that I understand both the gladness that her unhappiness is done with and sad for myself. As always, you say this well and it touches me.

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    • Thank you, I hope your mom is with your dad too. Sometimes it’s just too hard for people that have been together for so many years to stick around here after one moves on. Hard for us left here, but kind of nice for them.

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  10. Beautifully said, and thought provoking.

    I have very long-lived people on both sides of my family and it’s kinda scary. The two I saw the most of were a maternal grampa and paternal great aunt who both lived to 98. My poor grampa was mostly blind and deaf the last few years and all I could think of is that with both there’s nothing to fill your days. The idea of not being able to read fills me with horror. My great aunt (who was like a 3rd grandma to me) was in good shape physically until the final year, but so miserable once she had to move to a retirement apartment after living in the same house for over 60 years. Like they say, getting old isn’t for sissies!

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    • It IS scary to think about what life might be like for yourself when you get to be in the late 90s, early 100s. After watching my own grandmother and now husband’s aunt, I can say that the goal of living to be 100 is not so glorious as I thought it might be.

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  11. We love your little chickadee header, the little birds that we tried so hard to raise and only succeeded in saving one were chickadee ~ that is why the bird flies in the door with my Sweet William ~ he was raised in the house. I feel sorry for him for we know he is lonely because he lives between two world that of being wild and tame and we seldom see chickadees.
    I have no family at all so I understand lonely and I think as I age it must kind of be like a life in between transition for we are in this world but feel the pull of the next. Bless you for continuing to visit Aunt Vi.
    Sweet William The Scot

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    • I should have continued to say Bless you for continuing to visit Aunt Vi till her passing for so many folks just don’t come to nursing homes as I found out while my mother was in one for two years.
      Sweet William The Scot

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      • Oh I know. It’s hard to get people to visit a nursing home, there’s so little joy there. But I think it’s the right thing to do, and I did what I could to make her life a bit happier while she was here. That’s all I could do.

        Thank YOU for stopping by, and for saving the little chickadee. I must have missed that story, but it sounds sweet and sad all at the same time.

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  12. What beautiful words these are Dawn, along with photos of your Aunt Vi. I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure Aunt Vi was less lonely knowing she had you in her life. ❤

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  13. I think she gave you the words to express her passing so beautifully…..her memories will live on with all of us

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  14. It’s amazing how, in such a short amount of time, life can get extremely complicated and uncertain. I can’t imagine how difficult it was and still is for you when you lost both your mom and dad in an instant. I know I’m not telling you anything new when I say life immediately changes. After recent personal losses in my life, I’ve been torn about what I should be doing next and sometimes get overwhelmed reflecting on the past few years and contemplating what lies ahead. My eyes were opened up to the reality of life and death when my grandad passed away many years ago and then when Sallie passed away, for the first time I felt the true emotional pain associated with death. Grandad’s death made me curious; Sallies death made me hurt. This piece about your Aunt Vi is a sad but beautiful reminder of how important it is to be intentional about our love toward others and especially toward family. As of late, my mother has been heavily on my mind and I’m sure she’s very lonely. I’ve read through your post twice and you’ve given me affirmation about a decision I have made but still was unsure of. I need to get back to Michigan to spend time with my mom…I don’t want to have any regrets. Thank you Dawn! I’m sure Sallie would be pleased!

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    • Awwww, for sure you won’t regret spending more time with your mom. When you’re back in Michigan let me know, if I’m in town I’d love to come down (over?) and spend an hour or so with you and your mom, if she’s up to it.

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  15. You have always written so beautifully about your Aunt Vi. I’m sorry for your loss, it sounds like she had a long life filled with people that she loved. It’s hard for them when they’ve already said goodbye so many times. I’m sure she had a wonderful reunion and will let you know that she is happy and well. Big hugs to you, saying goodbye is never easy.

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    • No, it wasn’t easy. The funeral was today and I was busy enough with things that I didn’t get all emotional until it was time after the service to walk past her for the last time. So hard. And leaving her at the cemetery was hard too, but it was so cold I was glad that service was short and we were back in the car heading to lunch! Still…she hated being cold and I hated leaving her there.

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  16. I have lots I could say, perhaps want to say….but instead, I’ll just send you a warm virtual hug and love and light. ♥

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  17. So well written. So touching. I am sorry for your loss. I am glad for your aunt’s release from loneliness. The passing of a loved one is emotionally so complex. I know for a fact that I cannot write in the midst of such loss. You have written beautifully.

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  18. Wow, Dawn, I hope you got some of her genes because she looked absolutely AMAZING for her age!! At 100, she did NOT look it at all!!

    I am so sorry you lost her and that you are feeling lonely but I agree, she doesn’t feel lonely now. And I’m sure that after you saw those red birds, neither did you. 🙂 She is always with you, in your heart.

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  19. You gave Aunt Vi a voice, what a gift that was! I bet she knows it too. And loves you for it, and loves you for so many things. Thank you, Dawn, thank you so much for all of what you wrote and thought and felt. It sure touched my heart.

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