NOTE: Every couple of weeks I go through my trove of essays and poems. I found this one today. Not sure if I posted it on OS.
PROLOGUE: I wrote this five years ago. At the time I had just moved into continuing care with my husband. The facility ( called a village) was set up so that all of the residential units could be accessed via hallways which were connected to a central lobby. It looked and felt like a hotel. At the end of each corridor was a bulletin board announcing current events and obituaries.
She was a sweet lady of 80 something, who looked a lot like Betty White.
She was delighted when we moved into the empty apartment across the hall.
That was four months ago.
Now she is gone. Can’t wrap my head around it!
Makes no sense at all. None whatsoever.
I found out about her death on the bulletin board at the end of the hall.
I nearly fainted! Had to go back and run my finger over her name. Johanna?
Dead? Can’t be!
It was just two weeks ago, when she bent over to get some
milk out of the fridge. She told me about it, the morning it happened.
“ I heard something crack in my back.” she said.
She was sitting on the edge of her bed when I came in.
She asked me to help her with her prepacked hospital bag.
She asked me to get the pocket book, which she hid in the clothes hamper.
Security was already there when I arrived. It is protocol here. Fall. Call.
Security arranges for transport to the hospital next door.
I waited for a few days to call and inquire about her condition.
I was told me that she had been discharged and sent to the INN.
The INN is where people go to recuperate. It is where you go to get better
or die. Johanna was alive when I went to visit her there.
She was dead a week later. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it.
She asked me to get her some Ensure. I tried, but there were no written orders.
I didn’t have any legal right to get it for her. The nurse asked me,
“What is your interest in this person?”
I answered, “ She is my neighbor.” I came to visit her.
“Well, you’re not on her list of approved persons allowed
to intervene, instruct, get, gather, or inquire.
Additionally, it is Sunday. The dietician is off.”
I promised Johanna I would be back.
She wanted her mail. I told her I’d get it and bring in the paper.
She said she'd call the front desk for permission.
But I never heard from the front desk.
And I never saw Johanna again.
Johanna was cremated and her remains were to be taken out to the Gulf of Mexico and dumped there. Her son said she wanted to be with her husband whose remains were also dumped there. He added sarcastically, “What a party that is going to be!”
Johanna told me she didn’t like her son. Didn’t want him to have her art and sculpture. She said she didn’t like his wife either. “ A nut case” she added.
“All they want are my things,” she told me. “ But they aren’t going to get them. I’m going to sell them.”
However, it didn’t happen that way. Johanna died suddenly and guess who is getting all the stuff?
Soon, maybe tomorrow, her nameplate will be off the door. Maintenance will be inside cleaning, replacing and prepping for the next tenant. The dutiful son is packing the ‘legacy’ items, which will be shipped, to his home in the Midwest.