Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Anniversary and life event

It's been a year today since the problem with my ear started. It seems to be fine now, though today I'm having a problem with my eye (it's great being over 50, isn't it?). Every once in a while, something happens with one of my eyes -- not always the same one. It's some sort of infection, and I don't know what causes it, but it's painful. Rest and warm compresses are the only treatments that help. So I'm nursing myself through this and considering whether I should go to the ophthalmologist.

The tears on my face feel appropriate. We are in a sad, contemplative mode here this week. My mother-in-law died on Sunday morning. She was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the mid-1990s. The effects were mild for almost a decade, but in 1999 her husband died rather suddenly, and with the inevitable contraction of her life (widowhood + worsening of her own illness), she was never really happy again. For the past five years, she had been in a nursing home. I've read that most people who end their lives in nursing homes stay for only about a year. Five years is a very long time to live in such a place, even when it is well run and caring.

This past week, she slipped into a deep sleep. I don't know if it was technically a coma, but no one could wake her up, and she couldn't eat or drink. It was in this deep sleep that she died, peacefully and quietly. Everyone in the family is sad because of her suffering over the past ten years, but we are glad for her that that is over. It's sobering to think that no matter how vigorously someone lives her life, it can dwindle to this. It's yet another reminder not to put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

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