She rarely wore lipstick, but when she did, it was lovely.
She often trivialized our lives and the chaos that kept them moving quickly. Her favorite reminder was, “Life is too short, honey.”
Yet we watched her beckon her own death closer, year after year. When we'd ask whether she was scared, she'd say she simply didn’t think about it. Then someone would change the subject.
We never saw anyone live so long in anticipation of the end.
The stroke had paralyzed her right side, bounding her to a wheelchair for her final 15 years. By the end, her right hand had curled into itself, balled up to a near-fist. She could hardly speak. But we knew she was thinking, and that she knew what she wanted to say. We would wait as she attempted to stammer out the words. It seemed it was her mouth that failed her in the end – it simply would not obey her pleas to move.
But we were told she was once very bright. When she was young, she read books quickly, and could recall exactly what she’d read on each page during a sitting. We later learned the correct phrasing for this – she had a photographic memory.
She was a schoolteacher. She taught her daughters how to cook. When they brought their drama home to her, she would advise them, “Don’t borrow trouble.” One of the daughters would pocket that saying and pass it down to us, her own children. Years later, that same daughter would lay beside her mother, squeezing her hand as she took her final breath.
So she grabs hold of my hand,
And I tuck my fingers between hers,
So she can sweep me,
Good and bad,
Into her mighty shade.
She was willing to love everything in us – unconditionally. Most of the time, and especially toward the end, she could make us feel better without saying anything at all.
They say her right hand, finally, relaxed with her last exhale.
She is the fifth of The Great Danes.