One Last Lesson

My former morning show partner used to always say, “It’s a pretty poor day when you don’t learn something.”

I usually followed that by saying to myself, “Well, how about learning a new slogan?”

Over the years, I’ve found that more true than not.

A quick side-diversion–that’s what I like so much about the game of baseball. You think you know everything there is to know about the sport and then all of a sudden a situation occurs or a play happens that has never happened before. And you pick up one more wrinkle in the grey matter.

My head is pretty jammed full of stuff. I’ve heard before that we keep shoving things in there until it gets full, and then we start letting go of the lesser important things. I don’t know about that. I can still arbitrarily let you know that the intro time of James Taylor’s “Your Smiling Face” is 25-seconds and really, it begins to fade around 2:15, although the time listed on the label is 2-minutes and 25-seconds. I’m an information junkie and, being a writer for Radio-Online and getting up at 4am every morning to gather data, it still excites me to learn something new.

This is where I bring in Marjorie. The quick connect is that she’s my sister-in-law’s mom.  When I married Victoria and added her extended family, I got to know Marjorie while taking in the many family events. We’d banter briefly about how she was doing, what’s new, the usual small talk.  Several years ago, I helped her out a couple of times with her computer. She was eager to know how to use it and keep up with emails, even though a lot of 80-year-olds were happy to not have anything to do with those contraptions.

Over the past couple of years, Marjorie has had some real health battles. A couple of weekends ago, she had to be rushed to the hospital and everyone thought they were going to lose her.  But, as she had done several times before, she rallied.  However, this time, Marjorie made it known she was done. No more hospitals for her. She wanted to get back into her apartment and not leave until her final breath.

Just last year, we celebrated her 90th birthday. In a fairly short amount of time, she needed the help of a cane and walker. She was tired of struggling to keep going. She decided she was done and had no interest whatsoever in wrapping things up at a hospital. So, she put out the word and night after night, her family and friends came over to say goodbye.  Not teary-eyed crying sessions (although, I’m sure there were a few weepy eyes) but spending one last time together, getting to hug the great-grandkids one more time or see a longtime friend. Although, by this age, you’ve outlasted a lot of those.

Last Thursday night, my wife, her daughter and I headed up to Marjorie’s apartment and hung out for a while.  A couple of hours, maybe. She did not appear in pain and, to be honest, when we left there, we all wondered if this was really it. She was lucid, talkative, laughed, and freely discussed all the goodbyes of the past week. Marjorie was planning to check out and so if you wanted to say one last goodbye as if to someone going on a long trip, you were encouraged to stop by.

Friday came and went. On Saturday morning at 4am, Marjorie headed off on her trip.

She told us during our visit that she had been having recurring dreams where a bus kept pulling up and invited her to get on board. She wanted to know where it was going, but they wouldn’t say. So, she didn’t get on.

Maybe this time they told her. Or, she just decided to finally take them up on their offer.

Marjorie did it her way and so impressively. The goodbyes, checking out when she was ready, tying up the loose ends and moving on in her time. I’m looking up from my keyboard at the “In Loving Memory” card of my dad who went home to his creator exactly three years ago today. He was just shy of his 92nd birthday.

We’re never really ever ready to let our loved ones go, but from their point of view, they eventually hit a point of wanting to move on. I get that. We do that all the time with friends, social circles, cars, jobs and such. You hit a point, and you recognize that it’s time to make a change. It makes sense that we’ll all feel that way at some stage of our lifetime where you just say, “Hey, I’m getting on that bus.”

I helped Marjorie out a couple times with her computer, but she got in the last lesson. She demonstrated the art and style of going out your way. Well done.

Tim Hunter