You may remember Ann, the husky-voiced red-haired elder who loves to walk, from my book, Aging Our Way. She yearned to be published sometime in her life, and by writing the postscript to the book, she made her dreams come true. (Here I am reading Ann her published words for the first time!)
Ann volunteered for thirty years at her local nursing facility. She’d push people in wheelchairs who would always ask her “Are your teeth real?” She got a kick out of that. That same nursing home is where she lived from 2010 up until this week, when she passed away at the age of 96.
Here is an update on Ann, from her daughter Mary (posted with permission), from just a few days before her death. She reports that even on hospice Ann was very much in control.
Our mom has taken quite a dramatic turn of ill health. On 4/4 and
until 4/8 she was in St Peter’s for congestive heart failure and a
very painful compression fracture in her spine. She is now 96 3/4
years old. So we believe her journey has begun. We’ve called for
Community Hospice Services for palliative care and she’ll receive all
services at Good Samaritan Nursing Home, where she volunteered from
1980 until her broken hip and shoulder in July 2010, then as a
resident thereafter. Please know that she and I were instrumental in
securing that St Peter’s knew her end of life wishes, DNR in place.
She is now comfortable and sleeping much of most days. When awake she insists on being dressed and sitting upright in her wheelchair and has
continued (as tolerated) outings in the wheelchair van the family has
purchased, On outings and until the last couple of weeks she has
enjoyed her glass of wine at Gideon Putnam, and the vodka and juice
that my brother brings for her in the evening at the nursing home.
Recently, she awoke and asked “why is that oxygen in here”, referring
to the tank in a corner…..still independent, still in control. She
is choosing to eat less and less, but the family takes comfort in her
ongoing independent attitude.
I so enjoyed hearing you on Joe Donohue’s show this am….had to update you.
Many thanks for mentioning mom….she would have loved her mention in
regard to volunteering!
Mary Donohue Smith
Dearest Ann – it has been such a gift to know you these past years. And your devoted family has given you the ultimate gift; the ability to die as you would have wanted, in comfort and surrounded by loved ones.
As you described to me, your kids also enabled you to truly LIVE, by purchasing a used handicapped accessible van so that they could take you out of the nursing facility and away for weekend at Lake George, a place you have always loved.
I’ll never forget how, in your 90s, you proudly attended President Barack Obama’s inauguration, and rode on the DC subway for the first time.
With great admiration for a life well-lived, and your adventurous spirit,