I'm still processing the morning I spent with a 90-year-old neighbor and friend yesterday. I called to check on her about 9:00 and discovered that her shoulder was giving her tremendous pain and she was unable to get out of bed. So I went over to see what I could do.
It took a few hours to track down someone who knew where her pain pills were stashed, and during those hours we talked. As long as she did not move her shoulder, she was sort of okay, but the slightest movement caused her great agony.
While we talked, I fed her a piece of cinnamon raisin toast and some cherries that a neighbor had brought over from her tree. I told her that she was like Cleopatra, reclined in her bed, being fed grapes. I helped her take the dozen or so pills in her Sunday a.m. pill box, hoping that one of them might be a pain pill (none of them were).
Over and over, she said she knew the time had come to move to a care center. She was distraught at the thought of leaving the home she'd lived in and loved for so much of her adult life, but she'd begun to accept that she couldn't live alone anymore. I could tell she was trying to get used to the idea, to convince herself, with every repetition.
I remembered other visits, when she'd talked over and over about a friend who'd finally resigned herself to using a wheelchair and about another friend who'd decided she had to give up driving after living a fiercely independent life. I wonder if she'd been subconsciously processing through her friends' experiences the decision she knew deep down she was getting closer to having to make.
It will be okay. She's got a place to go where she'll be taken good care of. She'll be closer to family. And she's a spirited gal.
But still, my heart is broken for her.