Today I said goodbye to my first Hospice patient. She would have been 100 in December. They work hard to match up volunteers with patients, and they did a fantastic job with us. We bonded quickly and talked about everything, from how short Tom Cruise is to how worried her five-year-old self was that her father would have to leave the family to go fight in WWI. She talked about “the tremendous progress of the female” over the century of her life (she was especially sympathetic with all the hardship the pioneer women endured), and she often told me that I don’t need a man and, in fact, better keep ‘em away from my hard-earned assets!
She was also extremely encouraging of, well, just me. My life, my path, my business, my motherhood. She thought I was truly amazing, and melted my heart to tears a number of times with her loving praise. A lot of people love me and encourage me on, but there was something about her words and her expression and conviction that went right to my heart and made me believe that just maybe she was right. She really saw that I had different opportunities than she had, and was proud of me for working toward what I want and feel called to.
She was also feisty and funny and raw, even as she struggled with the challenges of very old age. The last time I saw her she looked at me and said, “My advice to you kid is- die young!”
I thanked her today for initiating me into this work and for her endless encouragement. In her courageous spirit, I will be beginning to speak publicly (something that I absolutely hate doing and have avoided for many years) around issues of death and dying in and around our community in the next few months, along with my friends in the Full Circle Living & Dying Collective.
I am so grateful for my youth, health, passion, and supportive community.
Onward ’till the end!
(Stay tuned! I’ll be hosting Nevada County’s first Death Cafe next month and it’ll be a rockin’ good time. If you’re interested but not local, check their website to see if this ever-expanding movement is headed to your town soon!)