She won my heart the first time I met her. Max took me to her room, and then he took me back, again and again. And we won her over, this beautiful, strong, stately woman.
We got to know her over two years of Friday afternoon visits. Those weekly visits were the highlight of her week, and she never neglected to tell us how much she looked forward to them. She always knew what day it was, and she counted off the days till Friday came again.
When the Fall semester started, my schedule left me with time to waste on Wednesdays. I spent that time visiting Anna. It was always a joy to take Max in to the nursing home, and I took him weekly, on Fridays. But Wednesdays………those became our days. Time to talk, to sit together, to laugh and look at pictures and hear her stories, time for us.
She left us too soon. She wasn’t feeling well on Friday, she gave me her signature “eh” when I asked how she was doing. And I remembered a time when she would say, “doin the best I can with what I have!” On Monday, I got the call. She was asking for us. As fast as I could, I gathered Max and we flew to the home. She was in bed, not really there, but still holding on, and holding my hand. Max put his head on her bed, and licked her hand, then settled beside the bed.
I flashed back to Poppa. He held my hand and I told him all the things I never could say to him till then. I held Anna’s hand and told her how much I loved her, and how grateful I was that she had been a part of my life.
We went home. After a couple of hours, we went back. I held her hand again. Again, Max settled beside the bed, and we sat with her for another hour. An hour of talking to her niece, or watching her breathe, of listening to the horrible rattle that accompanied every breath. We left, giving her the hug and kiss and “I love you more” that was our normal routine.
I didn’t think she’d make it through the night. She was stronger than we all thought, though, and she made it through that night, and the next. We visited again on Tuesday, and on Wednesday. She squeezed my hand, and her breathing got better, and she seemed easier, calmer, more peaceful. Were there angels in that room? Oh, yes, there were many. I could sense them, and I think Max could, too.
On Wednesday, I came home to mow. When I was done, I checked my phone – a message. She was gone. A little bit of my heart broke off, fell to the ground, and shattered.