After her last stroke, it looked like Annie-Bananie was a goner for sure. She couldn’t swallow. Wasn’t eating. Her left side was useless, her right leg had developed a blood clot, and she was virtually unresponsive.
“I would say she’s in the ‘actively dying’ phase,” a hospice nurse told me and a couple of my aunts during one teary-eyed visit.
But then she ate a little bit of peaches one day. And she started talking — whispering, really — just a tiny bit. At first, when she kept saying she was “tired of lying here,” we assumed she meant she was ready to die. And I think that’s probably what she was thinking. But that wasn’t happening, or at least it wasn’t happening as quickly as she or anyone else imagined. So this weekend, when she said once again she was tired of lying in bed, Dad asked her if she wanted the nurses to help her sit up in a chair.
Next thing you know, she stunned the other nursing home residents by making a triumphant return to the main seating area.
Which has me thinking: Do I know anybody with the mental toughness of Annie-Bananie? This lady’s never been a whiner, not even about death. We’ve all lost count of how many strokes she’s had over the last 15 years. She could just lie there and close her eyes and wait for the inevitable. Or she can make an extra effort and face her last days with a little bit of gusto.
I haven’t heard her say this for a while, but I know what she’s thinking: “That’s just the way it is.”