I was quite taken with May Sarton's "The Reckoning" which is about a 60 year old woman finding she has terminal cancer. And has to prioritize the life business of the few months which are left to her.
Some rather wonderful lines:
"Her attachments now are only to those who serve her". When she realizes she doesn't have the energy for family drama or for those fluttering around her or taking her much needed energy.
"The dead are not asleep...for sleep is the domain of the living."And how gorgeous is this:
"It was pure bliss to stretch out on the sofa then with a Haydn quartet pouring its vitality into her like wine."
"Little by little, we are more peopled by the dead."
It was a slow and wonderful read and I so enjoyed her wanting to be solitary and "desiring a lot of time to think".
I have lent it to Daughter but once she brings it back I would be more than willing to send it to one of you out there. It truly is a marvelous read (published in 1979) and way ahead of its time in many of its concepts. I will hold a raffle if there are a few requests.
As the Lodge Lurches
A rather lovely gentleman, Bill, was taken quite quickly. He was 81 and when I did my laundry on Sunday mornings would come up to the second floor community room (it's a gorgeous gallery overlooking the main community room and outside gardens and golf course) and sit there and chat to me as I went back and forth. I was surprised he was 81 as he had the energy and vigour of someone much younger. He was very good to our common cleaning lady and helped her with her cars and hospital visits. He just had a knee replacement which was followed quickly with his ulcer acting up. That turned out to be terminal stomach cancer and he died within a week of being in palliative care. So 10 days between diagnosis and death. It is such a shame his cancer wasn't "caught" before his extremely painful (and how unnecessary!) knee replacement.
This is the outside wee area of my apartment. The artwork on the walls is mine. Instead of wreaths on my door I have yarn and needles. The two chairs are in one of the many such nooks and cubbies around the building for private talks or just sitting amongst the fine plants.
Well, we all know we are going to die someday. I would like to die in my own home, not a hospital or nursing home. And I don't want to suffer. Let me die in my sleep and peacefully slip away from this life. Just suddenly without warning or fretting.ReplyDelete
I do hope your wishes come true, Gigi!Delete
Oh, I love the tucked away sitting area. Your own art on the wall,very nice.ReplyDelete
It would be nice if no one had to suffer before death.
It is bad enough the suffering that life brings.
I agree Gemma but very few escape the Angel of Death's wrath. It should be the Devil of Death, right?Delete
Love your door wreath (and your photos).ReplyDelete
Those quotes from the book really resonate with me. Thank you so much for continuing my booky education.
Stomach cancer seems to be a very speedy beast. His funeral was four weeks to the day after we found it had invaded my father.
And how I wish that he didn't have two painful and ultimately unsuccessful surgeries. After his first cancer cells blocked his stomach again in less than a week.
Oh that is so awful EC, Is there any hope at all? This is so stressful for you and so painful for me. My mum died young of a horrible cancer but my father went peacefully. We can never predict.Delete
A similar thing happened to a distant relative, an older woman with diabetes. She had her leg amputated and suffered dealing with that shortly before she died.ReplyDelete
Lots of seats around for older people. They need them.
It seems unfair that the medical people don't "catch" other health issues, right? Stomach cancer is hugely prevalent here and many researchers come to the medical school to study the high rates, I believe the genetic component is huge.Delete
I love all the seating areas, we also have mini-gyms.
I'm impressed; there's even a Christmas cactus succulent in your nook. And I do like the idea of a yarn welcome on your door.ReplyDelete
There are also orchids which please me immensely, I will take more photos of the plantations in the building!Delete
I like that cosy little reading spot. Sad that someone so vital should go so quickly. It's a crying shame that his ulcer wasn't examined more closely, he could have been saved.ReplyDelete
And he might have been able to avoid that awful knee surgery. He was always so vital. I remember he stopped me one day as I came in with groceries and offered to get them for me from my car any time. Just know on his door. Charming man.Delete
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Your story of the gentleman resonates as my younger brother who died last year first underwent knee replacement, then was diagnosed with cancer of the prostrate, went through agonising chemotherapy and at the end of it all had to be kept drugged and died in much discomfort. I was unable to visit him due to my own problems but, my children did and he was delighted. When I tried to explain why I could not travel, he simply said that one patient at home was enough and he did not want to burden his wife with me also! We were very close to each other and I miss him terribly.ReplyDelete
I can very easily get to enjoy a place like where you live.
I remember reading about your brother Ramana and how upset you were. I often wonder whether these life extension medical interventions actually worked. I know it was useless when my BFF Helen had brain surgery as her type of tumour 100% ended in death and I thought she was suffering needlessly.Delete
I remember one of my dear friends Roger, dying of the same type of brain tumour told me that he only went through the awful treatments because his daughter, then 18, begged him to. He knew it was useless.
We never get over the losses of our dear ones, do we? It is a lonely time when the dead in our lives outnumber the living.
I haven't read any May Sarton for a very long time. I must revisit her.ReplyDelete
Ten days between diagnosis and death is a fine way to go. Much better than a long lingering painful illness.
That is true Nick, however he did suffer with the knee as well, which in my view was unnecessary but at least he is at peace now.Delete
Enter me in your raffle!ReplyDelete
I read May Sarton's diary - I think it was - in the year my mom was dying. Loved it.
I have to work today, brought a S---load of it home with me. So had best get a move on. But you know how it is when you have to check on your favourite bloggie friends first!
You are the only entry so far Kate and I will certainly mail it to you when Daughter returns it to me. May Sarton is a wonderful writer and way ahead of her time.Delete
Good luck with the work!
I always trust your reading recommendations. These days, though, I have trouble holding books open, so I checked to see if a Kindle version is available. It is, so another lucky friend can benefit from your kind offer. I'm so sorry to hear about your 81-year-old friend. I remember when I was 16 and my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. By the time he was diagnosed, it had already spread to his brain, yet he underwent a surgery to remove a lung. He was ambulatory before the surgery but never was again. That forever colored my feelings about extraordinary procedures when death was likely anyway. Too bad your friend didn't have the opportunity to make that evaluation for himself regarding his knee surgery.ReplyDelete
I agree Linda, I believe his docs overlooked doing a further analysis on his ulcer to rule out other medical issues. I feel so bad he died suffering.Delete
But I also know they do the best they can and are under so much pressure (particularly here) to do hip and knee replacements.
The timing of that didn't work at all well!ReplyDelete
I'm sorry your friend is gone, every death effects us on some level.
In answer to Andrew, I once worked for a surgeon who changed from vascular to eyes for the simple reason that vascular surgery is so heartbreaking, a vast number of people who have amputations die soon after.
Oh that is so terrible Kylie, I often wonder too about cancers as I am so aware of friends who have broken broken hearts often succumb to breast cancer not too long afterwards, everything, indeed is connected.ReplyDelete
Sorry, WWW - I've been AWOL for a day or two, but have now caught up. I hope your pains from the awkward fall you had are now easing. Falling and/or catching the 'flu (ordinary or this new strain) are the two things I'm most afraid of!ReplyDelete
Re the book you mention - I'd not enjoy that myself, WWW. In fact when we're watching films on TV if a character is, or has been, diagnosed with some kind of cancer I immediately switch off and find another movie. I cannot bear to watch! I'll deal with my own stuff, and my own shuffling off as and when, but watching someone else going through it isn't entertainment to me these days. :( I didn't used to feel that way, though.
I love your idea of hanging yarn and needles instead of a wreath! :)
Totally understandable T. It would hit far too close to home indeed. Yes, I think us elders are terrified of catching the bug that will finish us off.Delete
I just finished "Autopsy of a Boring Wife" which amused me greatly and is quite cleverly written and translated from the French. Good books are a great distraction for me along with some rather good Netflix and Acorn series.
I like your nooks and crannies photo and the fact that you can hang your art outside your door. As for your neighbour it is such a crapshoot to know whether a surgery is beneficial or not, whether it is worth the effort. I do know folks who have hugely benefitted from knee or hip surgeries, I know fewer for whom it made matters worse. When we are "in the death zone" it is so hard to know what is worth doing and what is not.ReplyDelete
PS: I always read your blog and would like to comment more often, but it turns out that it is very difficult due to the privacy settings on my browser (Safari) and I would rather not mess with that. Oh well, thanks for your many comments on my own blog.
I agree about the death zone Annie, we never know if we are prolonging pain or alleviating for long term recovery. I have known very few successful hip/knee but I believe that is due to the failure of commitment to therapy as it's quite intensive and challenging.Delete
Odd that you can't comment but you're probably right, browsers tend to rule, right? I don't know enough about it.
Thank you Rue!Delete