I had walked these hallways before. They seem like a mile long in different directions with bright fluorescent lighting, shiny vinyl flooring and handrails on both sides. In fact I have spent years volunteering in what I called this house of death. It’s been a few years since I was here but watching death come day after day can take a lot out of you. The tears that flowed for so many out of these eye’s had run dry. Now I was here to watch death take another family member of mine. I came to the room which was plain as can be, one single twin bed, two chairs, a dresser and hospital bed eating table.
As I sat down you could see the bright blue sky with small puffy clouds that make shapes and animals that you can recognize through the closed shade. For thirty eight years the woman who lay in front of me has been my mother in-law. Now less than 75 pounds, her arthritic bony fingers and skeletal body, barely resembled the women who put family first above all else. When I married my wife it really became an unusual arrangement. Charlotte, my mother in-law moved in with us and Charlotte’s mother “Grandma Claire” also joined us. No man had ever eaten as well as I had over these years. I joke they made me the man I am today as I proudly rub my what people would call a beer belly. But in my case it was definitely a culinary explosion in my belly as I am not a friend of beer or alcohol for that matter.
For years people have said to me that living with all these women I must have an unbelievable amount of patience. Truth be told, I have very little patience. I want to make things happen, I want results and it frustrates me when it doesn’t happen. In this particular instance I am impatient for death to come and take her. She’s in pain and has been for a while. I want nothing more than to relieve her of that pain. I know there are a number of friends and relatives waiting for her on the other side. You can’t be selfish at a time like this. The tears are flowing again and I can’t turn off the faucet. But this time I believe she is going straight to the light and into welcoming arms. Thank you Charlotte, thank you for being the woman that you are.