Easing Death

The baby mouse died overnight. Bringing the baby into the house wouldn’t have helped. He/she was the runt or fell out of the nest and unless mama came to the rescue, it was death. The tissue box was crumpled, the towel on the sidewalk and the poor baby was dead at seven when I went out. Something in me knew he would die and I wanted him warm and out of the wind.

My mother died at hospice seven years ago this weekend. All the kids and my husband gathered ’round for a week and told old family stories while the morphine levels went high enough to kill a horse. Mom was under 70 pounds by then but she was strong and though she could barely talk, when my husband’s chair went out from under and threatened to topple the tv and bookcase, I said “No need to trash the place” and she actually laughed. The only thing she ever said to me was “Get me some water, please.”

I arranged for a priest to come by for Last Rites. We all stood by her bed and told her that we loved her. Unbeknownst to me, my husband took her hand and said “I’ll take care of her.”

College did not prepare me for death, even though I took classes on Gerontology and learned the five stages of death. My husband is a tall, strong guy and was always called upon to be a pallbearer, even outside his family. He is used to funerals. I am not.

I decided to euthanize two of my old, sick pets, one Burmese cat who never let me get the last word in until the pink liquid did it’s deed; and a wonderful dog who stood up on the table five times to be with me after anaesthesia. Now this vet has a special wing for euthanasia and a panic button. I couldn’t call anyone because she would have fallen and I found out from the doc later that she’d already bled out.

Easing death. I don’t know how ours is to come. Dog Zoe’s 10 year senior blood panel was aced! I’m sure she’ll be around for another few years but we have an option. If her life is painful and not worth sticking around I can end it and be there to hold her, which will be heartbreaking. We cannot do that for our parents or my husband or me.

If your pet needs to go, please talk to your kids about in the most appropriate way for their age. Also let them know that pets are not easily replaced. One cannot replace a cancer-ridden Rover with a new pup River. Be with your pet. He/she has been a lifelong friend and companion. Make sure your vet knows the dosages and does as you ask. Spend time after your dear friend has gone and make sure you have the ashes to diss the park Nazis and donate to plant a tree and scatter the ashes. That’s what I did. Shhhhhhh……Never tell park nazis about ashes. Just give $100 and put in the ceremonial tree hole a little bit of the tennis ball my old dog Chani eviscerated two days before she died. Then get the neighbors together and scatter the ashes over her favorite places, play Nat King Cole and have neighbors water the tree. I never told you this.

The next hardest thing I had to do after Chani died was tell Jesse, age seven, ten feet from his brother behind the bushes (he cried) and I told him to tell his big brother and friends I yelled at him for something, so I called out “Don’t ever do that again!” at him when we re-entered the Park. Then I had to go out to the Park with my wonderful girl friend, to see our dog group. It was so great to do it the next day. If I’d waited it would have been horrible.

Everyone was waiting for me and it was easy, I got to go out days and see them and the dogs. Dogs led me to my boyfriend, husband and the “dog people” saw to it that we eloped in style.

The man who married us, I met him and his wife at the dog park. They were married 62 years before he died and was interred at Annapolis, where they first met. Mrs. H sure knows how to run a funeral, family, military moves, everything. At the reception in the hall where they met a fellow Naval officer gave a short speech to the Captain, then the “Admiral,” his wife. Later her eldest son got her to meet the Secretary of the Navy, who gave her a coin for her and her husband’s years of service.

Easing death. I’m about learning and teaching life. I now know that death is a part of it. Dee

ps, Mrs. H’s three sons all call me “sis.”

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