Sunday, December 30, 2007

On Aging

Nana and her twin sister were born four days after Christmas. Most years we head to Pennsylvania a few days after Christmas so that the twins can celebrate their special day together. This year was no exception. The twins turned 71, and both are in good health, for which we are thankful.

Unfortunately my 87-year-old Aunt Ruth, who had to go into a nursing home this fall because one of my other aunts could no longer care for her, is rapidly deteriorating and likely will die in the next month. She has pulmonary fibrosis and has to use oxygen to breathe. She sometimes sleeps through several days and can become confused when she is awake. We tried to visit her during our trip, but we were unable to wake her (we and the staff tried for about 30 minutes). I regret taking the girls to the nursing home. They both were deeply shocked at how small and frail their aunt looks, and Tootle in particular clung to me and kept asking for reassurance that I won't look that old and frail anytime soon. I took the girls because my aunt has recently talked about them a lot, and I thought a visit from them would cheer her up. I too am haunted by my aunt's condition (last night I lay awake worrying that she will starve to death if she sleeps for increasingly long periods; she asked for no feeding treatments, etc.) and I'm so sorry that I didn't let the girls' last memory of their aunt be one of her sitting in a chair in her home in September. I just pray that she will be pain free and at peace when she dies. My mom and I will probably try to visit again in a week or two, but I'll leave the girls with other relatives.

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