Sunday, April 04, 2010

Life & Death

Sadly, on Friday, we lost Jason's great Aunt Betty after a 2 year struggle with ALS.  I only got to know Betty in the past 6 years or so when she moved back to the Baltimore area to be closer to her sisters and to help take care of her aging mother (Jason's great grandmother who passed away just 2 years ago).  Such a spunky lady and I'm so glad I had the chance to spend some time with her.  She endured some of the saddest things a person can possibly be dealt yet she remained such a pleasant and strong person.  I always enjoyed the quick witted things she would say to Jason's grandmother, Nancy, from time to time - friendly sisterly banter never stopped it seems.

I think the saddest part about all of this was that she and Nancy spent several years taking care of their aging mother around the clock and then once she was gone, started making plans again to get out and do fun things and enjoy the years they had left. I think they had talked about taking a cruise and I know they planned to get out and have some fun days at Delaware Park.  But only a few months after their mother died, Betty started with a variety of symptoms that alarmed us and it didn't take long before she was officially diagnosed with ALS.  It really didn't take long before she needed a lot of help and she moved in with Jason's grandparents.  It was around that time that my SIL, Kelly, and her husband moved across the street.  At first they were there more for moral support but as time went on they provided a lot of physical help too.  I can only guess how much Betty, Nancy and Doyle appreciated having them close by.  We went to visit when we could and my IL's took the kids to see them a few more times too.  In the beginning Betty was still able to join us to play an infamous game of Scrabble or some kind of cards, but when we visited over Christmas this year, she no longer came to the table to eat or to play a game with us.  That made me really sad since I know that with ALS your mind still functions normally, it's your body that fails you.  But even as things grew worse, I know that Nancy and Kelly tried to keep things as light as possible for Betty and to get her laughing about even the serious things.  What a gift in your final days....

Within the last month she became bedridden and my MIL, Sandy, told us earlier in the week it wasn't going to be much longer since Betty had specifically decided she wanted no medical intervention, not even an IV.  I was sad to hear that she was gone but also relieved that her suffering has ended.  I'm thinking of Jason's family, especially his grandparents who will feel her loss the most.

It just makes you realize how precious our time is here and how important it is to live your life to the fullest since you never know what could happen next.  I hope that Jason's grandparents are able to get back into enjoying their golden years and especially getting back into their church life since I know how important that is to them.

And with Betty's death, life comes full circle as I wait to hear about the arrival of my cousin's first baby - she's officially due on Jason's birthday but at this point, it's really any day now.  I have so many friends that are due in 2010 as well which all helps to keep things in perspective.  You see these words grouped together a lot these days - Live, Laugh, Love - and as we are reminded by how fragile life is, those words become so important because without love and laughter, there's not much of a life to live.


BJ said...

So sorry for your family, but your statements are simply so true. I love those three words -- Live, Laugh, Love -- it is important to keep those alive.

Katie said...

Sorry to hear that!

ICF said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ICF said...

Thank you Erika for the beautiful words.