Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Conversation With Margy

I know that some of you have heard this story before, but it illustrates a point that I hope to remember when my time comes: Sometimes people who are at death’s door need permission to give up and pass peacefully. This is one such true story.

On Monday afternoon, August 21, 2006, I played bridge at Luther Acres. Since my mother-in-law, Margy Dissinger was a resident in the extended care unit, I decided to stop in and visit her for a few minutes after the game.
She was not in very good shape. She was alternating between gasping for breath for 15 seconds, and not breathing at all for as long as a full minute. Her eyes were partly closed, and since she was heavily medicated, I am not sure if she even knew I was there. But I decided to hold her hand and have a conversation, one-sided I’ll admit, with her.
I told her that I had just come from playing bridge, and if she had been there, she could have beaten me just like everybody else did. (I had been playing for about a year, and when she was able to play, we had a friendly competition going for bragging rights).
We mentioned that in 1976, Margy, Raym, Patty, Barbara and I visited Williamsburg, Virginia. Raym was wearing shorts, and we were refused admission to one of the fancy restaurants. Patty said he looked like a tourist, to which he replied, “Well, I am.”
We finally found a place which appeared to be a converted warehouse. The cooking was done behind a curtain, but it was delicious. They were the first, and the best, steamed clams I have ever eaten. Over the years we have talked several times about the place where they cooked behind the curtain.
While Barbara and I were living in California, she visited us several times. One time we took Aunt Esther and her to Yosemite, where my son and his family met us. My granddaughter was about seven at the time, and the little girl decided to take the ladies on a walking tour. She guided them to one of the waterfalls, cautioning them to “Be careful, ladies, these rocks are slippery.” I think the ladies enjoyed the little girl and her tour more than the awesome scenery.
Another time in California we took Margy to visit Hearst’s Castle, with its many rooms and guest houses. It includes a movie theater, and an indoor swimming pool finished in tiny azure tiles held in place by gold cement. We all thought it was beautiful.
Then we talked about our visit to Hawaii; on one island we walked a short distance through the jungle to the Fern Grotto, where the natives and non-natives go to get married. We passed the place where Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii was filmed.
In Alaska the two of us bundled up in warm clothing, raincoats and fur-lined boots, and took a helicopter ride to the Mendenhall Glacier, where we spent an hour looking at the ice worms and other features which the guides pointed out to us.
Later on that same cruise we flew in a small plane, (four occupants, including the pilot) into the back country, where we landed on a beautiful lake. It was so calm, and the water was so blue, the snow-capped hills so green, that it seemed as if we were the only people in the world. And according to the pilot we probably were the only people within ninety miles. We flew so low that it seemed as if we could reach out and grab the bushes on the hills.
We remembered our cruise to the Caribbean, and the helicopter ride we took over the Virgin Islands. It was hard to believe how blue the water was, how green the forests were and how sandy white the beaches were.
Then we talked about her long life, and how she had spent over forty years with a good man. Together they raised really good kids, and they are happy and doing well in their separate lives.
Finally I reminded her that Jesus had gone to prepare a place for her in God’s home. I told her that if she wanted to go there, we would be sad for a while, but happy for her, and that it was OK to go. We would understand.
Finally I had to leave, and I told her that I would be back, but if she decided not to wait for me, it was OK.
She died 30 minutes later.

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