This is an absolutely true story Book Index
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We have heard about that damn butterfly for 20 years, but we have yet to predict a hurricane.
At the V.A. Hospice, there was a sleeping area for family. The one night I take advantage, I wake up to whispers and apparent subterfuge.
This time Candee wanted some jewelry of Bettys. Betty asked me to run home and put everything in our safe before they got there. I realized that meant Susan must still have a key. I did as Betty asked and sure enough, Susan and Candee drove up behind me. I called Mel, who in turn called the police. But they left willingly.
I hated being caught up in this family feud. It never works out for the non-family member.
Life continued in the hospice, though some of the nurses complained that we were having too much fun. Betty was a hoot and she and I as well as other visitors enjoyed our time together. But our laughter was distracting to other families sitting death-bed side. So the doctor deemed her less than hospice worthy and sent us home. Betty didn’t want to stay there anyhow.
She really wasn’t well and the next few weeks, she got more tired, weaker and she was leaving us. We would sit together watching the latest on the television. It was a painful time for others as well.
The Terri Schaivo incident was occurring and as she and I watched it, I became upset that someone would be starved to death. Betty said nothing. After that I made anything she could palette, because she was doing what Schaivo's parents were trying to avoid. I could get her to eat Jell-O, and soft foods. When she first came to us, she would buzz her chair into the kitchen to teach me how to cook. I was cooking for 40 years by then. But she DID teach me some stuff. One was making the BEST macaroni and cheese you would ever have...like Cracker Barrel. Or this scrumptious dish of past with tomato sauces and 3 cheeses; mozzarella, cheddar and Swiss....Oh.My.God....makes you want to take your tongue out of your mouth and slap yourself on the head. OK. I don't know what the hell that means but Jerry says it every time he bites into something amazing.
But Betty no longer cared.
Betty was disappearing before my eyes. I cooked, cut, spread and steeped everything I knew she liked. All she wanted was coffee. And she wanted that the minute she woke up. And it better not be old. I bought her cakes and cookies to have with her coffee. She always wanted what I made, but never ate it. She just wanted it sitting next to her. And as we both watched Terry Schaivo disappear right before her family's eyes, I was watching Betty do the same.
That last week she asked me what we were having for thanksgiving dinner. I knew, she knew, that she wouldn’t eat it. But I went into detail – this seemed to be what she wanted. I described the turkey and she described the dressing, I told her about the yams and she added frosted flakes to the top…I had to leave her room, to cry. Betty and I, the least likely of friends, had become family. I truly could not see her gone.
She would read the bible to me, and I would take over reading back to her when she was too tired. I heard of her missionary work in Belize where she said Helen Keller’s brother had come to rescue her, Puz and little Mel from civil unrest 40 years ago. I had a hard time believing Helen Keller's brother was even alive then. Betty said he came, even though he had a horrible dangerous abcess in his leg.
And of course she didn’t miss a step in telling me that I made a promise that I wouldn’t have sex with her daughter. She said we could live very well together without it, maybe even happier. Perhaps she was right.
I was the only one who could brush her hair, rub her feet. She said I was the only one who didn’t hurt her when doing so. Her skin was so fragile that we bought a “tent” for underneath her covers to keep them from rubbing her skin raw. Her hands looked like tissue paper. There was not a line, wrinkle, or ounce of fat on her poor tired body.
I felt that no matter what had happened, Candee and Susan should be permitted to come over and be with her. Susan volunteered to sit with her and I was very appreciative for that. It only lasted for one night unfortunately. Susan didn't have the stomach for it.
Candee came. She was totally untouched, unmoved. Just the site of Betty brought open mouth gaffaws. What is wrong with that woman? Has Candee no depth at all?
Betty's last day was one of the hardest times of my life. And worse, the landlady wanted to show our apartment to “new people”.
We had been having problems with our upstairs neighbors. It sounded like they were running marathons up there. It was horrible and Betty wanted to move. I complained to the landlady. But that only made it worse. So we gave our notice.
On Betty’s last day the landlady just showed up. I explained that we had family over and we were sitting vigil, but the landlady said it was the only time she could show it. Now here is the absolute insanity that is that landlady. You know who she was showing it to? The people upstairs!!!! I was seething.
When she brought them into Betty’s room there was an audible gasp and they insisted to the landlady that they leave. The next day and every day until we left, it was silent up there and they sent us a beautiful letter saying how absolutely undignified the landlady had been and expressed their sorrow at the previous months.
When I phoned the landlady she expressed sympathy, but didn’t feel she was wrong. When I called her to task she said…and I quote “I am taking my sorry back”. (Peter Griffin is in everyone)
The next few days were quiet as we took our turns. I had gone to take a cat nap, when Mel called me in. On November 10, 2005, we all stood around Betty’s bed, she asked me to once again rub lotion on her feet.
As I pressed the lotion in her tiny childlike feet, she stared at me, and without a word, her pupils dilated until there was no more color.
And she was gone…
By the way IISTG means If It Seems Too Good to be True