July 5, 2009
Scott received an email this afternoon that our beloved Marion has passed on. Some of you knew the curmudgeonly mother figure that she was in Scott\’s life. With the nickname of \”Mu\”, she was his confidante & friend besides long time office manager. She had quit smoking 10 years ago, but the prior 50 years had already taken their toll. It was lung cancer, just like Suzanne. Her 3 children all lived a great distance away. Only her son from Toronto was with her when she passed away in her own home, with hospice standing by. She was 83.
Similar to Suzanne, she was a force to be reckoned with. Marion was occasionally sensitive to Scott\’s side of an issue, but they could have screaming arguments that took some getting used to. The ruckus always ending with hugs; at least by the next day or end of the week. His size did not daunt her. If she wanted to be heard, she made darn well sure that she was. She embraced me as the most important woman in his life. She adored Skye & considered us family. In some ways Scott was closer to her than her own children.
One Marion story I will tell is when she began to be worried about memory loss. Forgetting names, searching for a word – she was scared she was getting Alzheimers. She did not want any of her children to know so as not to worry them. And in order to retain her independence & medical choices. She knew of my experience with my Dad & my decision to not put him on Aricept (after a brief trial with negative side effects). I offered to go with her to the Cedars Sinai neurologist when she got the results of her brain scan. He was young & kind. There were degenerative changes that the radiologist said \”MAY BE indicative of early stage Alzheimers\”. What I heard was MAYBE NOT. What I also made the MD articulate is that all people\’s brains over 60 show some age related changes which hers could be. Nonetheless she was scared enough to begin the Aricept. I honored her decision to take the medicine, saying I did not know what I would do if it were me faced with this test result. Scott honored her even more saying \”I\’ll let you know when you\’re losing it Marion! You don\’t get to quit on me that easy.\” Having a place to go every day, where she felt needed & useful was critical. She was happy for Scott & me to realize our dream of sailing away, but she missed him desperately. It didn\’t work out for her to stay on with the new dentist. And who was going to hire a crotchety 81 year old? Scott\’s last day of work, was pretty well her last day too.
She bought a computer & learned how to do email just to keep in touch with us. Her kids that all lived far away had nagged her to do this, but since she could just call them she wasn\’t motivated. When she could no longer call Scott, she jumped into the computer age. They exchanged correspondence frequently, even as her condition declined. She complained about the live-in assistance she needed. He tried to coax her to accept the help a bit more graciously. It was not so long ago we went through this with Suzanne being impatient with Carmina in her last months. When you feel sick & tired. you get more grouchy than ever. And, if you knew Marion, she could be kind of grouchy to begin with! His last email from her was 4 days ago. He knew she was weak & failing as there was not one gripe. All it said was: \”How are you? I miss you. Love to Cindy & Skye. Love, Mu\”
This is the 4th news of death we have received in 15 days. First Annie the Granny (Skye\’s maternal grandmother). Then two of Scott\’s high school friends each lost a parent. He knew these parents well from many days spent at his friends, homes. Now Marion. I don\’t know if it Jewish superstition, or general superstition that says death comes in 3. Even though expected, you can never be prepared. The funeral will be Weds or Thurs. We will be at a remote island out here in the Marquesas.
I was so glad I had already thawed chicken & planned a comforting dinner of rice & curry. Scott wrote the sad news to his former office staff & a few longtime patients. He tended to our usual routine of boat duties & is now reading. I want to hold him & cry, but it is not my turn. Thank God, it is not yet my turn. I keep praying that Dad will hang on until we reach an international airport…
Before that we had a wonderful day, an outing to a nearby bay. But it seems trivial & I\’m not in the mood to describe it now. I was just mentioning to my sister Alberta recently how I am not very zen in my feelings about death. My belief is zen. But the emotion is sadness & loss. Death is so permanent. We will never see her wrinkled but still rosy cheeks again. She suffered from severe spinal stenosis, a poorly healed knee fracture and then this cancer. She suffers no more. Her memory loss never seemed substantial in our opinion. Scott nor his staff, noticed errors in her work as his billing department. She was a well respected Grand Dame, divorced & lived alone many years. At her age she had already attended many funerals of close friends. That is the drawback of longevity. And why I love to connect with younger people. I want to know the sons & daughters of my friends. I want to know Skye\’s friends. I happen to have 4 older siblings & many older friends. You had all better darn well take good care of yourselves! I am counting on you being there when we are done with this sailing the world business.
Cindy & Scott