The first time I met Lois was Thanksgiving Day in 1982. I was “the new woman” in her grown son’s life. Buck was Lois’s only child and she intended to take my full measure.
As for me, I was scared to death.
When Lois suffered a major stroke in November of 1990 she learned soon enough that her independent life was forever changed, that she had to trust Buck and me to take care of her. As time went by she learned we did not extract any sort of price for this, no diminution of her pride, and Lois was liberated to love us.
Notes: Lois was discharged from Baptist Hospital in December and came home to live with us. She returned to the hospital on December 27 for several days to have a pacemaker implanted, then again for two weeks in April after suffering a several trans-ischemic attack which left her with further deficits. Dealing with Lois’s moment-to-moment well-being, physical needs, and mood states have been the dominant fact of ours since November 9.
Over the nine months since Lois’s initial stroke she lived with us in a bedroom just down the hall from our own. Some of our thoughts about options for the future are written here:
1. Lois ever being able to return to her Syrcle Drive home on Navy Point doesn’t seem viable to any of us.
2. Staying as we are — now that Lois seems stabilized and has improved a great deal — seems too close for the long-term comfort of any of us (living quarters).
3. Adding an apartment-type suite to the house. There still would be strangers, plus Lois in the in the house, and as she weakens, around the clock workers living in. This doesn’t really help us, but rather institutionalizes our lack of privacy and demolishes our honeymoon lifestyle during our peak years together.
4. Building a house on a nearby lot, within sigh of the deck, and staffing it with a paid live-in, with additional assistance from a caregiver’s company.
5. Now that Lois’s mental state has vastly improved and her physical condition stabilized, there is no reason to think she will not be able to live with a reasonably high quality of life, albeit much more narrow than before, for years to come.
6. To look at it any other way seems like we are impatiently waiting for death. We must move on, knowing that death may come at any time for any one of us, but nonetheless we must all live each day in the expectation of life.
7. This is a tough experience.
Lois’s last day: It was June 15, 1995. Sandra, an LPN at Azalea Trace, called at 3:00 a.m. to say Lois’s condition was rapidly deteriorating. Her pulse had been at 120 for a long time, then dropped to 80, and she was struggling to breathe.
We dressed and came over. We believe she was are of our presence. Anticipating a long, tough day, Buck called his office to tell them he wouldn’t be in.
We lost Lois at 1 p.m. Shad had an oxygen mask on, but simply stopped breathing.
Later that day, I saw it. A new dress the color of sunshine, a happy dress, hanging in Lois’s closet at The Trace. “I don’t remember seeing this one,” I said to Buck as I went over for a closer look. “That’s strange,” I murmured.
“What’s strange?” Buck asked.
“It’s not Lois’s size. It’s my size,” I said, turning to him.
We stood close together, looking at one another, our eyes slowly filling with tears. “It’s for you. She ordered it for you,” he whispered, wrapping me up in his arms. “Lois always said you wore too much black, that you should have a yellow dress.”