The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. We were called to come see about my mother-in-law Cheryl when her condition started going downhill fast. (Side note: her name is pronounced CH-eryl, not Sheryl. It’s the hard CH sound.). She celebrated her 90th birthday at the end of August, but wasn’t feeling well at that time.
Cheryl was ready to go. I think living wasn’t fun for her any more. She’d lost her eyesight, her hearing was going fast, and she had no energy. Food didn’t taste good to her so she quit eating and drinking. Quality of life was not very good.
She might have been ready to go, but her kids weren’t ready to let her go. Once it became clear she wouldn’t be returning to her independent-living apartment, we boxed everything up and sold the furniture. A lot of memories were tied up in the belongings and the space. Walking away from them was hard.
While cleaning out things, we came across boxes of photos of her life. She learned to drive in a Model T. The wheel came off while she was driving and passed the car. She was a cheerleader at South Dakota State, even getting to be Rooter Queen one year. She married the man whose truck she’d backed into with her car. The two of them loved being outdoors, camping and boating with friends. They lived in the same town their whole married life, forming life-long friends around town. She loved having her grandkids around, showing them lots of fun things to do. She lived a very fun life.
Cheryl went into Hospice House. That is an amazing place. The nurses who ran it were compassionate and understanding to the nth degree. When they called and told us the end might be coming soon, we rushed there and spent the last few hours with Cheryl.
I’ve never been with someone when they died so it was a new experience. I’m glad we were there. Hubby and I held her hands as we talked to her and listened to her breathing become slower and slower. We told her thank you for everything and to go in peace. She did.
We couldn’t have a big funeral like we wanted. Family and several very close friends were there when we lay her beside Jim on a snowy, cold day. We hope when it’s sunny and warm we can have a memorial service for everyone whose lives she touched.
She will always remain with us. Her influence left its mark. The photos, videos, and memories will make sure she’s not forgotten. It reminds me of a poem my dad often quoted: When the books are closed and the last verse is read, And we become one of the countless dead, Thrice happy if some soul can say, I live better because she passed my way.
I live better.