Once when Mama went to the doctor about something, he told her that whatever-the-problem-was that it was just old age, and that she just had to live with it. She was in her early eighties at the time. His name was Crockett.
Well, Mama told Dr. Crockett, "I read in the Reader's Digest that if a doctor tells you that your problem is caused by old age, you should change doctors." Mama changed doctors.
A few years later she attended Dr. Crockett's funeral.
Mama and I talked every single day on the phone. One day in February 2001, she told me that she "had taken a nervous spell." I asked her what she was nervous about and she told me she didn’t really know. "Just a nervous spell," she said. Not like Mama. She was 91 years old, and it was the first nervous spell I had ever heard about.
The next day she went out to breakfast with friends. Went to Denny's. She loved that big breakfast at Denny's. The one where you get two of just about everything in the kitchen. I don't know why since she always gave most of it away. "Anyone want this sausage? I don't care that much for sausage." She would actually tell the waitress how to cook an item like, "Please make the bacon extra crisp," and then say to someone else at the table, "Do you want my bacon? I just don’t believe I feel like eating bacon today." *Sigh*
Mama mentioned to the nun who was with them that she had "taken a nervous spell." Sister Jean persuaded Mama to go to the doctor after breakfast, and then called me. The doctor said that Mama was very anemic and he wanted to do some tests. Mama said no tests, "I’m 91 years old and I’m not going to let you operate on me, so why find out what’s wrong?"
But she did agree to have two pints of blood to treat the anemia. She'd been given blood before for that purpose. Little bit of the vampire in her little self. She was taken to a clinic for the transfusions. When she entered the clinic, Mama told them, "Remember I'm DNR." Do Not Resuscitate. She would have had that tattooed on her forehead, but she was a bit too vain for that.
The nurse told me that Mama was doing very well. In fact, she had gotten up from the bed by herself at one point while the blood was being given, rolling the hanging blood bag, etc., and took her little self to the bathroom, unaided. That Mama.
They let me talk to Mama while she was getting the blood. Mama said she was fine. She sounded just like Mama. Not worried, not excited, just Mama. She asked about my kids as usual.
But this felt different. I called my sister Doris. I called my sister Bonnie. Both Doris and Bonnie called Mama at the clinic. We all called each other. Busy phone day. Doris herself was in the hospital getting chemotherapy. We felt that perhaps Mama's nervous spell was actually that she was worried about Doris.
When the nurse checked on Mama a little later she asked for something to let her sleep through the transfusions. She had small veins and it took a long time for her to be given blood. The nurse checked with the doctor who said okay, and Mama received a mild sedative and drifted off to sleep.
Later the nurse checked to see if the first pint of blood was finished. Mama's breathing was very distressed. Mama was dying.
The nurse "coded" her, and lots of people came running to "work on" Mama. The doctor on duty came because of the "code" and quickly pointed out that Mama was DNR, and that she had made a point of reminding him of that.
The nurse assured me that they had not "worked on" Mama more than a couple of minutes. Mama had not awakened. She died quickly and in her sleep. Peacefully.
She had always said, "I hope I die in my sleep." Mama got her wish.
That Mama. Sweetest little Mama anybody ever had.