How two dying women teach us how to live

Here are two books I have reviewed about two women who died, one old, the other young. Both of them struggled with illness a long time and both families “kept hoping that she was just a corner away from getting back on her feet.” And both families were grateful for the time they had with her.

I subscribe to Dr. Alicia Britt Chole’s newletter where she recently announced the passing of her mother. I savor obituaries because I feel like I have made a new friend, like this woman-

“My Mama went to be with Jesus on April 4th. She was among the most generous, loving, and sacrificial souls I’ve ever known. Mom’s been struggling with illnesses for the past five months but she’s such a fighter, we and the doctors kept hoping that she was just a corner away from getting back on her feet.

But she was a corner away from dancing with her Savior. Oh the ache. I can’t express the ache. I am grateful for every moment with my Mom, for the millions of memories, for being so well loved.

In her last 24 hours she was able to say “I love you” to each of her grandchildren and several dear friends and her sister. Keona sang Amazing Grace for her. Louie kissed her and told her he loved her. Jonathan played Amazing Grace for her on the violin and read Psalm 23 to her. ⠀

Mom helped anyone she could in any way she could. Her hands were constantly serving through cooking (her love language), bookkeeping (her profession), petting her puppy, taking care of her chickens, and loads of hugs for all of us.

If you knew her, you felt seen and loved by her. I’m so grateful we’ll have eternity together. Please pray for our family in between here and there.”

P.S. Mom said that if anybody wanted to send flowers, to instead ask them to, “please buy a toy for a child and leave it in a park.”

Here are two books I have reviewed about two women who died, one old, the other young. Both of them struggled with illness a long time and both families “kept hoping that she was just a corner away from getting back on her feet.”

Each woman’s family was grateful for the time they had with her and for how she faced death taught them how to live.

I hope you savor my reviews and maybe find the books and read them too.

Grand Canyon , USA

Driving Miss Norma- why saying yes to life matters

When faced with death, Norma chose living. And in doing so, she and her family learned what really matters at the end. Through this book, they share what they learned with us.

man and woman holding the letters L O V E

To Joey, With Love- a movie review

Although I cried throughout, I’m glad I watched To Joey, With Love, and recommend it to you; it is an extraordinary love story that demonstrates the power of love and faith to get ordinary people through the worst life can throw at them.

exploring the HEART of health at the end of life

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Please don’t leave without visiting these pages to learn more about me and other ways this blog can help you. And I would greatly appreciate your sharing this post whereever you are social.

The next time someone I know dies, I’ll think about buying a toy and leaving it in a park. How about you?

Dr. Aletha
a toy castle and shovel in the sand
photo by TheRealFindo at LIGHTSTOCK.COM, an affiliate

Why you should get ready to die while you live -a book review

“The reason obituaries are so dull to read is that they are so dull to write and that’s precisely why I’m writing my own: To save my family the drudgery in an otherwise stressful time.”

Besides attending church on Sundays, I routinely read the local Sunday newspaper. I never miss the comics, Ask Amy advice column, restaurant reviews, and the obituaries. Sometimes I find an obit of someone I know or know of. But even if I don’t, I usually read one or two.

Sometimes the person’s life is so remarkable I’m surprised I’d never heard of them. Sometimes it’s so intriguing I wish I had known them. That is the case with a recent one, particularly because it was written by the deceased man himself.

I’m sharing this obituary with you with names deleted to protect privacy and some sections paraphrased. I think you will agree this is a man worth knowing.

David B.

“The reason obituaries are so dull to read is that they are so dull to write and that’s precisely why I’m writing my own: To save my family the drudgery in an otherwise stressful time. Following the standard format of obits I’ll start with I was born in 1948. I enjoyed being an only child until my two sisters came along. After that I learned to be an only child with two sisters.

I have to stop here and mention that when my kidneys failed in my forties, my youngest sister unselfishly agreed to transplant one of hers. When it came time much later for another transplant my older sister conveniently developed cancer rendering her ineligible. Fortunately our son jumped at the chance and eagerly agreed to step up for which I was profoundly grateful.”

After high school he “moved on to blast my way through a five year architectural degree in only seven years.” He co-founded an architectural firm which grew into one of the ten largest firms in the U.S. for several years.

“I’m kind of proud of that.”

Following retirement he served as Vice-President of the national board of the American Kidney Fund as well as President of the local chapter. He was President of the state chapter of an architects institute and served on the boards of local arts commissions.

“There is some other stuff but these are the highlights.”

He admitted that the best thing he did was marrying his wife.

“I loved her dearly. She was my lover, partner, confidant and best friend. If not for her, I would have been writing this many years earlier.”

Together they had two wonderful daughters. One is a physcian and the other “spends most of her time helping keep women out of prison”. About his son he pined , “He has yet to have any kids which is regrettable because the gene pool would be greatly improved by his contribution.”

“I guess all that’s left is to say goodbye to the many friends I’ve made over the last seven decades. I’ve kept up with some but lost track of many. Suffice to say that if I wasn’t dead, I’d miss them all.”

Not surprisingly, he requested that in lieu of flowers friends consider donations to two local non-profits-a soup kitchen/food bank and an organization that helps children of incarcerated parents.

assemble a "when I die" file
a screenshot from the book

How to prepare for the end

I suspect that David prepared for death in other ways besides writing his obituary. He probably wrote a will, arranged burial or cremation, and closed his social media accounts. He likely had a living will or health care proxy. He sounds like a man who navigated his life well and managed his death equally well.

Planning for death seems straight forward but there are numerous details that most of us will miss without help. That’s why I reviewed and recommend a book that walks us through the process.

The book consists of 5 sections that mimic the progression from life to illness to death. Even as a physician, I was surprised at the claim that only 10% to 20% of us will die without warning. The rest of us will know we have something that will likely take our life. And even if we don’t, we all know we will die eventually, although we tend to think and act as if it’s a well kept secret, and maybe it is. The sections are

  • PLANNING AHEAD
  • DEALING WITH ILLNESS
  • HELP ALONG THE WAY
  • WHEN DEATH IS CLOSE
  • AFTER
Hazards of caregiving

Chapter titles offer discussion about issues such as

  • Yes, There’s Paperwork.
  • Can I Afford to Die?
  • I’m Sick
  • Love, Sex, and Relationships
  • Hospital Hacks
  • Care for the Caregiver
  • It’s Your Body and Your Funeral
  • Grief
  • How to write a Eulogy and an Obituary
  • Celebrating a Life
REmember me-collections and keepsakes
I think David’s family has many precious memories of his life.

We should all read this book

As much as I hope you don’t need it right now, unfortunately you do need it right now. So whatever stage of living, or dying, you or a loved one may be in, you will find something helpful here.

Follow this book’s authors on Facebook

exploring the HEART of life and death

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dr Aletha

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