Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 9 - Visit with Judith

This was a good day.  It is always a good day when I push myself to do something I want to do anyway.  In this case, I went to visit my friend Judith, who is fighting cancer and is in a hospice in downtown Atlanta.  In fact, the hospice is run by Catholic nuns and is literally right next door to the stadium.  It is a nice facility and it seems like they give very good care.

Judith quit work in August, citing "health reasons," but it wasn't until October that we finally knew what was going on.  She had been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, with spread to other areas, including the brain.  She had actually just gone home and was waiting to die - even her family didn't know what was going on.  Her son, who had been living with her, had taken off and no one had checked on her for a while.  Anyway, her nephew stepped in, took her to his place, got her in to another doctor, and after some time at the hospital was transferred to this hospice in November.

I call and talk to her on the phone every couple of weeks, but I hadn't been down to visit her since November.  I had planned to go right after Christmas, but with all the chaos with Lisa and the kids being here, and then my getting a cold, I didn't make it until today.  I called first and she said she was up to having visitors.

I am always relieved when she recognizes me when I walk in, so things started off well.  She still has the best smile.  She gets up and dresses every day.  Her bed is made up.  She is not doing any chemo or radiation, and she says she is not having any pain nor taking any pain meds.  She eats well and sleeps well.  Her only complaints are her eyesight and memory loss.  Her short term memory is where it is most noticeable - and when she struggles to find the word she wants to use when talking.

When I visited last time, I took her a genealogy of her father's line.  She has always been interested in genealogy, but knew very little about hers.  We had a great time sharing all the stories I had found - especially about her Civil War, a.k.a. The War of Northern Aggression, ancestor (a reb, of course!) and her Revolutionary War ancestor.

This time I had her mother's genealogy.  It was a harder line to pull together, but I loved doing it.  There was another Civil War ancestor.  She was particularly touched by the story of a distant uncle (I forget how many greats) who was captured in Virginia during the Civil War.  He was imprisoned in Elmira prison in New York, which was about the equivalent of the Andersonville Prison in the south.  She cried when I read the story of the conditions in that prison, called Helmira by the prisoners.  He survived and she was proud to have him in her ancestry.

It was a nice visit.  I stayed about a half an hour or a little more, until she started to get tired.  She is a wonderful person, with a heart of gold, and I do love her.

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