April 30, 2012

When is it time to let go?

Good morning to all. If you live in the Saint Louis, MO area then no doubt you are probably recovering from Saturday's Hail Storm that brought about the biggest pieces of hail that I have EVER seen. Besides that the weekend was for the most part quiet.

Yet yesterday I went with my mother to visit a friend of her's who was ill and in the hospital. I had the pleasure of meeting this lady and her husband last year at their home I think in UCity.... When I first entered their home I was just taken back by all the beautiful pictures, artwork (paintings and sculptures), and furniture. If I thought the first floor was something else, I was really in for a treat when I went downstairs to checkout their basement. You would have sworn it was a mini black history museum with even more photos with famous political figures and well known artists, more artwork, and more furniture that would just knock you out of your socks!

My mother would tell me stories about Mrs. Erlieen and how she was one of the baddest dressers back in her day around and how she "inspired" my mom to step her game up whenever she would go out. lol When I met her last year I was amazed that this 92 year old woman remembered me as a little girl and I sat with her on her  couch and she would tell me stories about my mom and how they worked together at the old Southwest High School off of Kingshighway which is now known as the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. I remember as a kid when I would go with my mom this beautiful mural that was painted in front which is now unfortunately gone. It was called Nouveau Rousseau named for after the French painter, Henry Rousseau. I was able to find some pictures of it though..

Her husband, Mr. Max, is also quite the character and is also in his nineties, I think 95. Yet he was walking around quite well and was full of hilarious stories. While Mrs. Erlieen unfortunately was having issues walking around and had to rely heavily on her walker. It was too funny when a friend of theirs came over and they told me beforehand they were going to try to play "matchmaker". I just laughed it off and when the visitor came over I looked at Mrs. Erlieen and asked her quietly in her ear, what she was thinking. The man had to be in AT LEAST in his fifties. lol We both had a good laughing spell after that.

When my mother and I were on our way out the door, her husband tried ONE more time to play matchmaker and at that point all I could do was laugh out loud and give him a hug. I told my mom we had to come back over and visit with them some more. Unfortunately we never made the time to do so until this weekend. My mom informed me that Mrs. Erlieen was in the hospital and I told her that I would like to see her. So yesterday afternoon, we made our way to St. Luke's Hospital out in Chesterfield. Her room was located in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and we saw Mr. Max there along with a few other people, one of them my mother recognized. We couldn't see Mrs. Erlieen but we could hear her painful wailing behind the curtain to her room. Mr. Max informed us that she has internal bleeding and that the nurses were trying to alleviate her pain but the medicine they really wanted to give her they couldn't because of her heart condition. We had to put on special coverups with gloves before we could go into her room.

My mother and I had to wait around 15 min before we were allowed to see her and what greeted us made my heart break. The lady I met last year with her hair perfectly coiffed, nails done and gracious smile was no where in that room. What I saw was a woman who I barely recognized with tubes all around, in and out of consciousness, shivering, hair pulled back with a head band. I touched her on her shoulder and said her name a few times. She just shook her head from side to side. We spoke with her briefly for a few minutes and said my name to her and she repeated it a few times. My mom walked out before me. I tried to hold her hand but it was beneath so many covers. I rubbed her shoulder and then pulled the covers up around her neck. I gave her a kiss on the forehead and I told her I hope she feels better and leave the room.

The whole time we were in there. She was say various things over and over such as "Obama help me" , "Max, where are you Max" , "Lord help me". After I left the room the nurse informs us that we would need to move because they would be bringing in another patient that would be housed in the room right behind Mrs. Erlieen and they needed that space to bring in the patient. So as my mom and her friend were getting their things together I just stood across Mrs. Erlieen's room in the waiting area and my eyes start to tear up. When I saw her in that bed I thought about one of my grandmothers who was in the hospital back when she was sick before she passed. I thought to myself that will probably be one of the last times if not THE last time I see Mrs. Erlieen.

I wonder how much can she hang on in so much pain. She and Mr. Max have been married for over 60 years. That is a long time to be with someone. They never had kids and it wasn't that they didn't try, unfortunately it just was not meant to be for them. My mother's friend said that it seems that Mrs. Erlieen is in so much pain that maybe it's her time to go. Yet she is worried about Mr. Max because it doesn't seem that HE is ready to let her go. So I wonder to myself as we on one of the elevators to take us back to ground level, if I had a significant other and they were ill due to natural causes or some debilitating disease and they were in such pain, would I be able to let them go? Would it be selfish of me have try to keep them alive because I'm afraid to be without them?

Once I get back home I decide to take a drive out to Forest Park and just chillout at the Art Hill in front of the Art Museum. I take a book along and I read for a little while. Eventually I give up because a slight chill is starting to take away part of my focus, the scenery is so beautiful I'm trying to figure out how the hell am I actually reading a book, and folks are coming around and I enjoy "people watching". So after a while I make it back to my car and slowly drive out of Forest Park with some jazz music playing. I replay the day throughout my head and wonder to myself what this week will bring...

*UPDATE 5/1/12* My mom informed me once I got home today that Mrs. Erlieen passed away this morning. I had planned on seeing her yesterday after work but unfortunately was not able to. I hope she is resting with the angels and my prayers are with her husband.
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