I have written blogs about my elderly friend “Melissa” (not her real name) and some of her health care experiences to explain some of the pitfalls elderly people may encounter when they get seriously ill.
I have known “Melissa” for decades and, with her permission, she agreed to my writing about her in my blogs. She was thrilled to hear about my 2018 blog “Covid 19 and Nursing Homes” and my 2020 blog “Don’t Write Off the Elderly”.
She even told me she like the name “Melissa” better than her real name!
I first met Melissa when she was in her 80s through her daughter who is also one of my favorite people.
Both were involved in planning the beautiful wedding reception at my home when my second husband and I were married in 2008. Melissa even remembered my favorite flower and made beautiful centerpieces with them for every table.
After Melissa could no longer drive, I took her to Mass at her parish and then to Chic-Fil-A on Fridays for breakfast with her daily Mass friends until she couldn’t physically make it.
I then visited her on Fridays and was inspired when she accepted hospice care and the care of her family with grace and gratitude.
Eventually, she spent her last days in a bed near a large window where she could watch the birds at her birdfeeder and have some of her beloved flowers at her bedside.
During that time, Melissa and I laughed a lot, prayed together, chatted about current events and family, and watched funny videos and old episodes of TV shows she enjoyed like “Barney Miller” and “Bewitched”.
She also told me many of the fascinating stories behind the pictures of her and her family covering the walls of her room.
Melissa died peacefully on May 6, 2022, at her home at the age of 99 years, 9 months and 5 days, lovingly cared for by her family and great home health and hospice providers.
A devout Catholic, Melissa was unafraid of death and knew she would meet her late husband and her son who died at age 4. Another son unexpectedly died at 56, shortly before Melissa.
Melissa generously donated her body to Logan College to help future doctors with their education.
After her funeral Mass, her family had a Celebration of Life event with pictures and stories about her life. There was a lot of laughter and some tears as we all talked about Melissa and what she meant to us.
Melissa and her family are an inspiration to me and an example of how to have a good death, something that seems impossible to many people.
I visited her the day she died peacefully and comfortably, but not awake.
She died just as she hoped.
We will miss you Melissa but we will never forget you!
Rest in peace.