blessings, coping, courage, death, faith, friends, grief, growing old, life, losing battles, perseverance

Mary Ann…

“Maybe things would get back to normal today.” That was her thought as she left Panera that morning, knowing that her computer and phone were both fully charged, a comforting thought in case her internet and electric were still down.  As she was leaving she bought a blueberry scone and a cup of decaf to drop off at her friend’s house.  She agonized over that cup of coffee. First of all, decaf? What was the point of decaf? Her little 85 year old friend was under hospice care and wasting away from cancer, but she would still choose to buy the low fat, healthy, version when she chose her groceries at Walmart. She even laughed at herself for doing that, and for buying the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, but it was what she was used to. But adding skim milk, always Mary Ann’s choice, made for such a crappy color cup of coffee that she couldn’t help herself, she snuck in a little half and half and hoped Mary Ann wouldn’t notice.

She called to let her know she was coming, hoping she hadn’t eaten already so she could enjoy the scone. There was no answer, but that wasn’t unusual. She spoke to the answering machine and said to not bother to call back, she’d be there in a moment.  She had a key to the house, mostly so Mary Ann didn’t have to get up to answer the door. But she was also hard of hearing, Mary Ann was, so her fear was that she’d knock and Mary Ann wouldn’t hear her.  What could she do in that circumstance but call 911, and the cops might break her door down only to find her fast asleep?

They had met through church, she was to bring communion to a 90-something spinster school teacher who was hard of hearing and not chatty. She was a nervous wreck when she knocked on the door that first time. Mary Ann answered with a big smile, and for a second she thought she saw a glow about her, and said to herself that the hand of God was on this woman already.  Everything she had been told about Mary Ann wasn’t correct, including her age. She taught school in Philadelphia, but as a nun, for 25 years. Odd that the people from church didn’t know that.  Mary Ann said she didn’t tell that to many people. She had left the convent after 25 years to take care of her father who ‘couldn’t manage’ after her mother died. He was old school Italian she said.  Mary Ann said that she was an adult orphan. An only child who had never married, and so had no relatives at all.  When she was diagnosed with breast cancer 9 years before she was given 2 years to live, and now, finally, she had stopped all chemo and gone into hospice care at home.  Against all odds they became friends.

She arrived with the coffee and scone, and knocked, and let herself in. Adjusting her eyes to the light she could see that Mary Ann wasn’t in bed. Probably in the bathroom, she thought, and carried the coffee and scone to the table. And that’s where she found her, lying on the floor on her stomach with her head on her arms. She looked peaceful.  She called 911 and they asked if she was breathing. She touched Mary Ann’s back to see if she felt movement, but she was cold. It seemed to take the paramedics a long time to get there, a very long time, though it probably wasn’t.  She filled the policemen in the best she could with what she knew about Mary Ann’s wishes, it was all to be handled by a lawyer.  They asked her if she was okay to drive, there was nothing more for her to do. Stunned by all that had happened, but not surprised really, she said yes, she was okay, and drove home.

In just a very little while the electricity came back on, and the house hummed back to life.  She wondered if Mary Ann had anything to do with that…

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15 thoughts on “Mary Ann…”

  1. Dear Sue,
    I am sure Mary Ann was most pleased that she was found by someone she felt close enough to tell her story to. People like Mary Ann are so very private. It must have been comforting to her that her wishes were able to be communicated quickly to the paramedics, avoiding all the fuss that can happen when someone dies alone. I am sure she enjoyed that cup of coffee and scone. My condolences on the loss of your friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Debbie, I’m trying not to beat myself up that I should have insisted that she go to the special needs shelter where they would have had oxygen all the time. She was rationing herself without her electric oxygen machine, and I think she went out to the kitchen and left the heavy tank behind, and got out of breath and laid down. But she was in pain and I knew she would be very uncomfortable at the shelter. The hospice nurse visited every week and I kept expecting them to put her in their nursing home, I definitely think that was in order, but she said that they said she was holding her own. She is comfortable now, that’s what I tell myself.

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  2. God Bless you Sue. MaryAnn was so lucky to have such a special friend like you. So sorry you had to find her like this, although expected. Keep your memories close to your heart. She is at peace now. I have been contemplating getting a Life Alert with gps. Just trying to figure out which one. .Maybe I should ask Debbie.
    I never get any phone calls exept telemarketers and I always wonder if this would happen and Dawn would find me as Shadow can’t dial 911.

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  3. I bet Mary Ann had thought a lot about how she wanted to die – and she was true to her wishes. I wonder if death is worse for those left behind – everyone we lose leaves a big hole. I hope you find peace in knowing you gave her caring as she lived her life to the end.

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    1. Thank you. She was my biggest cheerleader with the blog, urging me on and keeping track of the stats. She surprised me with that, I was afraid she’d want to correct my grammar. Part of me didn’t want to blog about her, but I think she would approve.

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  4. I am so happy to have stumbled onto this blog post!! My mother and Mary Ann were best friends since childhood! I have many memories of her from my youth. My mother passed away in 2000, but I managed to visit Mary Ann in FL in 2010. She was so wonderful to me! I only wish I could have gotten back for another visit. I was going to send her a Christmas card this year (sent one last year, but didn’t hear back); something told me to google her (I knew she had been battling cancer for a while). My searches led me to your blog. This makes me so happy to know that she was befriended by someone so kind and caring! She has earned her rest and is happily reunited with her parents and my mother in heaven. It’s just so comforting to know that you were present in her life when it was coming to a close. What a blessing you were to her, I’m sure!

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    1. How wonderful to think that there is someone out there with memories of Mary Ann when she was young. She had said that all of her friends were gone. She was very strong, never felt sorry for herself. We enjoyed a few hilarious trips to Walmart for groceries, with Mary Ann on the scooter and me chasing behind her. Trust me, I benefitted from knowing her also. Thank you for letting me know.

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