Rest in Peace, “Melissa”

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.

A New Profile in Courage

I will never forget turning 13 and watching President John F. Kennedy on television during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

My whole family was watching when the president told us that a nuclear war with Russia could be imminent.

I was terrified, especially since my parents were leaving for a golf trip the next day and I was left in charge of my younger brothers and sister.

I tried to be calm and brave like President Kennedy so that my siblings wouldn’t be upset. It was very hard.

When the threat was over and my parents returned home, I read President Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage”. I was so inspired by these stories of brave politicians standing up for their principles that I started reading the two newspapers (one liberal, one conservative) and news magazines that came to our house to try to better understand politics, economics, etc.

But over the next several decades, it sadly seemed that real courage was often in short supply-especially in politics-until now.


President Volodymyr Zelensky is a 44 year old former actor and comedian, who is now the sixth and current president of Ukraine. President Zelenskyy grew up as a native Russian speaker in Kryvyi Rih, a major city in central Ukraine. He is Jewish and married with three children.

In 2015, he played the lead in the tv series “Servant of the People”, a satire about an ordinary history teacher who is caught on camera ranting about his country’s rampant corruption and cynicism and surprisingly becomes the president of Ukraine.

His characterization of the honest and dedicated teacher-turned-politician amazingly resulted in Mr. Zelensky’s own election to president of Ukraine in 2019 in a landslide. (Subtitled episodes of his show “Servant of the People” are available on YouTube.)

Then, when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, President Zelensky became the face-and heart-of the beleaguered country of Ukraine.

In an interview just after the Russian invasion began and he was offered help to safely get out of the country, President Zelensky famously said “I don’t need a ride [out of the country]. I need more ammunition.”

Instead of hiding from the Russian attacks and by using social media videos,  President Zelensky went out into the streets to show that he was with his people despite the personal danger to himself. He also called for the US and other countries to help him and his people fight the unprovoked Russian invasion.

So far, President Zelensky has survived 3 assassination attempts to continue communicating with his people and the world. On March 8, he addressed the UK Parliament by video and spoke emotionally about his country’s attempt to stop the Russian invasion and how the Ukrainian citizens have rebelled against the Russian forces. President Zelenskyy received a standing ovation from the UK parliament with many members wearing pins with the Ukrainian flag colors.

 Despite overwhelming odds, the Ukrainian people have been able to survive and fight back for weeks so far.

Many other countries have now sent reporters to Ukraine where they have chronicled both the atrocities of the Russians and the bravery, kindness, and resolve of the Ukrainians trying to save their country.


Like many other people, I have been riveted while watching this new war on tv and seeing the terrible suffering of the Ukrainian people. It is heartbreaking to watch.

But what has surprised and inspired me is the conduct of President Zelensky and his people.

Despite the terrible hardships and suffering, President Zelenskyy and his people have shown tremendous resolve and determination not to respond with anger or with the same cruelty that they receive. They just ask to live in peace in their own country.

The news videos of caring citizens helping the elderly, mothers with small children, the wounded, etc. to get food, water, and medical care as they try to escape to a safe country are unforgettable.

President Zelensky continues to be composed but emphatic about what he and his people need to survive and save their homeland.

Those of us who can help through prayers, donations through organizations like the Red Cross, etc. should do so.

No one yet knows what the final result of this terrible invasion will be but the we should never forget the bravery and dedication of Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy and his people.

I know I won’t.