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Long Days

October 1, 2019

The day after the herd relocation, DH & I left the farm at 4am to fly to DC. We had planned to spend the weekend with our son, James & his wife, Alison… We landed early at DCA, Reagan National Airport, walked to luggage retrieval when DH’s phone went crazy. Mama Jane, DH’s mom, had fallen & was transported to the emergency room. Then, nothing is broken so MJ is being transported back to Morning Pointe Assisted Living. Good!
DH talked to her on the phone, as did Sister-in-law. She said she was fine, just tired.
15 minutes later – 15 MINUTES LATER! Morning Pointe called. They had just stepped into her apartment to check on her, found her on the floor, unresponsive with her left leg curl up under her body. She was breathing.
Ambulance called. SIL called. The boys called. The airline called – our reservation changed. Can’t fly out till tomorrow morning, very early. Our hotel reservation was changed to a single night’s stay. Dinner with James & Alison.
Very early Saturday morning we arrived at DCA, SIL was starting her road trip from
Kansas City to Columbia, Tn. Everything & everybody in motion.
Mama Jane’s left hip was broken in 2 places. She was “obtunded,” confused with slurred speech due to a probable sub-dural brain hemorrhage. (She had a serious bump on her head!) She had developed a severe heart murmur that did not exist 3 weeks ago when I took her to her internist! Her breathing was very labored. Her dementia continued…she kept asking me, with severely slurred speech when she wakened from time to time, if DH had retrieved her lightbulbs from Arkansas. Poor little thing.
After consultation with the orthopedic surgeon, we knew she was not a surgical candidate. Enter Compassus Hospice. Quick evaluation, yep, she qualifies, yep, she qualifies for one of the in-hospital hospice rooms because she was too weak to move to any other facility.

It has been a long number of days. I stopped counting really quickly because it really did not matter what day of the month, day of the week. My job was to: take care of DH, love MJ, help Barb and cousin Lisa, take care of JD once he arrived.

But this evening was different. MJ is in Heaven, praise the Lord God. Barb came to a late dinner (Southern for ‘lunch’), joined us at the assisted living facility to claim MJ’s things she wanted: the quilt Aunt Joy made for MJ just before Aunt Joy passed away last year, her own folding chair & the hiking sticks she had provided MJ back in the day. We insisted she take & use MJ’s quad cane!
She wanted nothing else of what was present.

DH, JD & I have had a quiet afternoon, just winding down from all the chaos of the previous 2 days.

Time to lock up the chicken coop. Walking out toward the barn with Mason on my left side wanting to be petted, I turn my head and stop – I smell MJ!
MJ’s scent is on my face from when I gave her empty earth-suit one last kiss when we arrived at the hospital this morning just after her spirit left to meet Jesus. I can smell her in my face.

This is my first time to stop. I have been so focused on DH, Mama Jane, JD, Barb & Lisa that I have not taken the time to …breathe… to take an accounting of my own feelings.

Stubborn woman! The red head (not when I knew her) whose red hair was no lie. So difficult in so very many circumstances. But. (My favorite Bible phrase is ‘but God’)
Jane Cook Hollis was a survivor! She was tough as nails and uncompromising when it mattered. She was responsible for herself and did not need anyone! Until…
She adored Papa John. She really did. However, she never fully gave her heart away until the birth of a precious baby girl she named ‘Barbre’ after her best friend & roommate in nursing school, Geneva Barbre (Aunt Ginny) who married MJ’s childhood friend, George Harrell (Uncle George.)
Barbre changed MJ’s life. Suddenly it wasn’t all about her anymore. This tiny baby girl needed her. Jane was responsible for another human being.
Next came a little boy. Precocious! Considered hyperactive, though I think folks were accustomed to quiet, compliant children & DH did not fit that description! (And still does not!)

From a 3 year-old whose young daddy died from a ruptured appendix, her mother an indigent young woman left with 2 young children to support in 1930’s southeast Missouri, to a strong-willed, intelligent girl who loved to read, to a nursing student in Memphis at the a University of Tennessee… To a young woman who met a WW2 veteran and fell in love…

Jane had an amazing life. She was the Head Nurse of the tuberculosis ward at the Kennedy Hospital, never having contracted TB. (See Psalm 91 – the Lord gave it to her in answer to prayers about whether she should be the permanent, not rotating nurse in that unit.) She adored 4 grandsons and 1 great-grandson.
She read poetry, wrote poetry, recited poetry until the end of her life!

DH and JD are upstairs. I just needed to sit down for a few moments of quiet by myself.

The past 18 months MJ has been living with or near us. She has been my first priority, making sure she had her groceries (apples, raisins, pecans, pimento cheese, GF crackers, etc.), that she had everything she needed, including some one to talk to, to complain to… to me, to the doctor…about me…

She has been a challenge. Yessiree bobtail! But she most of all has been a blessing to me.

Barbre said that when we had a get-together near Labor Day, MJ came into our house mad as a wet hen. She told B, “I do love Tammi, but I don’t like her at all right now!” I had given her a bath against her will before I brought her to our farm. She was not happy, but, excuse me, what could she do? I am a whole lot stronger than she & just as stubborn! So I ‘spit bathed’ her, changed her clothes & then brought her home. She was furious with me. But that’s OK. She was clean & in clean clothes to see her daughter.

Some people ask why I work out with a trainer & lift weights! It is to be able to wrestle goats & Jane!

Well, my MJ wrestling days are over. She is in Heaven, at peace, with no pain, no tears. She was greeted by her Savior Jesus, Papa John, my folks (if Daddy is off the golf course), Aunt Joy & our grand-baby Ada.

Time to wash my face & return to DH & JD upstairs.
God is good. All the time.

Jane Cook Hollis

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