Saturday, September 26, 2009


she's failing, my miss ruby.

a month ago, i saw it on a weekly basis, then a daily basis, now.. it is hourly. she was able to use the walker, things change, and i have to fully support her body weight when i lift her, when i move her from bed to chair. sometimes, i have to wait for the aide to allow me to bathe her.. i can no longer get her into the shower alone. i have to change her at the chair, chit chatting with her to remove her concerns over me doing this for her. i remind her she taught me many things as i grew up, and this is the only way i can repay her. by caring for her. by doing. by being there.

she has full on night support when i'm not there for my 12 hours a day... hospice starts as soon as her doctor signs off--with luck, it will be monday.

i train each new aid, fighting to keep the two she likes there as often as i can, since she trusts them to bathe her and take care of her when i'm not around.. she's comfortable in their presence, and lets down her pride. she still prefers me, and i make sure she has all she wants--trimming roses to bring into her room, teasing her, buying handmade rose soap, fixing whatever food she thinks she might want to eat. friday, i made split pea soup for the first time in my life, and she almost finished a small bowl...and said it was good. i know she meant it, too.

we speak of death, her and i. we skirt around the fact it is near, we talk of funerals, and how she wants to be cremated and put in the same grave as her beloved... i tell her it has to be in writing, and we do just that, setting out the funeral.. she asked i make sure it is done, and, so that, too is put into place, filed with the lawyer, copies in file cabinets of three people.

we talk about her husband, her cat... she smiles that soft smile i have known since i was 14, clucking to her little pumpkin, worried who will care for her when all is said and done. i assure her i will, and not to worry... but, she does.

her niece is visiting this week. the same niece who told my mother, "we care for our own" and then put my miss ruby in a nursing home, looking for a vet who would put the cat down. she's not called nor checked in.. and is only coming out because the trip was paid for, and she wants to take inventory. when they put miss ruby in the home, after her husband died, when she was lost and grieving, this niece and her husband were arranging to have a mover clear the house out.

i made it quite clear she is there as a guest, and has no power. i made it clear miss ruby is to be treated with love and affection. i made it clear her funeral wishes would be adhered to, and no one would fuck with them.

her face never changed.

i don't get angry too often... i was angry with her, for what she'd done, what she'd said, how she'd treated this woman.

the aides know to call me if anything is out of order, anything is said that is wrong.. if anything happens.

i have to be away for three days... a good friend is having an operation in tulsa to remove cancerous lymph nodes. she called and asked me to come, the center will pay for the ticket. most importantly, she needs me, and i'll go.

i'll call every day, i'll check in with her nephew by marriage, who is a doll... i'll count the hours.

then, when i'm back home, i'll wait with her.

she won't die alone.


coastrat said...

God Bless you, my "Angel unaware," friend... This sounds so like when my father was near the end. He didn't die alone, either.

Be safe and well; Miss Ruby and you will continue to be in my prayers.

Love you dear friend...


Danielle Combs said...

There are no where near enough people like you in this world. Would that we all had someone just as you in our lives.

quin browne said...


thank you both. i'm the lucky one.

Peter Varvel said...

Quin, this is simply beautiful in its purity, this open acknowledgement of mortality.
Thank you for protecting and respecting Miss Ruby (and her cat) when her niece would not.
Thank you for loving her.
I love you.

austere said...

I am proud of you.
I have nothing left to say.
A salute.

murat11 said...

What a beautiful love story, you and Miss Ruby.

Peace to you both...

inflammatory writ said...

You are a grace to those ladies, Quin. They're blessed to have you.

missalister said...

Quin the traveling saint. Amazing. Not like the Ice Ice Niece. She must think she’s never going to die. Well, you’ve written Miss Ruby into all our hearts here, even mine. I’ve seen the failing go on and I see you’re making some of the most horrible parts of it so much more tolerable for her. You’re doing good things on this planet, Q; it’s good you’re here : )

the Constantly Dramatic One said...

Be strong Quin =(

Anonymous said...

Bless you for your kindness to Ms Ruby and her kitty. How did your friend make out with her surgery?

gel said...

Your Miss Ruby has you as a gem: "She won't die alone." That gift of being there with her, for her, is beyond words. I'm saddened to read of the failing health of someone so close to you.