Archive for November, 2009

Long live the Energizer bunny

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

The Energizer bunny finally powered down. My 97-year-old mother-in-law, Helen, passed away Oct. 5.

People who read this and did not know Helen will say, “Ah, well, she lived a long life.” And she did. What they don’t know, however, is that up until the end, she was the Energizer bunny—always on the go, full of 97-year-old energy and pep, never wanting to quit. My former co-workers gave her that name, because it seemed that whenever she was down, she got up again.

It has been a tough summer for her. She thought she could undo the consequences of her age through surgery. Instead, the surgery to repair her bladder turned out badly and took a grave toll on her health. Determined, however, she exercised daily until she built up enough energy to return to “school” (the senior center). Then, one day, she announced she wanted to visit her brother and extended family in rural North Carolina. My husband took her there, and that is where she passed away—in the house where she grew up.

They say each of us goes through five stages of grief—anger being one of those stages. I admit that several days after Helen passed away, I began to feel an emotion unfamiliar to me. It was anger. I was angry because Helen had not given us the opportunity to say good-bye.

A few days before she died, her brother took her to the ER, where they diagnosed an inoperable problem. The doctors told her she was dying, and she said she understood. But she didn’t accept it. Instead, she kept fighting to live. Up until the end, the night before she passed away, as she complained about pain (her pain pills had not kicked in), she said, “Take me to the hospital. There has to be something the doctors can do to keep me living!”

But, there wasn’t. And by the next evening, she was gone. She missed the chance for us to say “we love you.” And she missed the chance to say good-bye.

Death is the one certainty we all are guaranteed to experience. I loved my mother-in-law, and I think I am over the anger I felt at her not accepting her finality. I hope, though, that when my time comes, I will have the opportunity to say good-bye to those who mean the most to me. As the “serenity prayer” goes, “accept the things you cannot change.”

Until next time,

Linda Segall
Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions