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Hiatus

In early January, someone I dearly love entered the hospital, due to a cataract of age-related problems. Doris was almost 89 years old. In a few days, she was discharged to a long-term care facility. After a few days there, a medical emergency arose.

On February 1, 2015, we made the difficult decision to stop aggressive (and painful) medical treatment, and allow Doris to pass on in peace.

These decisions were in accord with Doris’ wishes, expressed clearly on the day this decision had to be made, and in years prior. Doris also had made these wishes legally known in her Advance Medical Directive, all of which the long-term facility tried to ignore and circumvent, openly and surreptitiously.

As my dear friend Lisa said, “This is a woman who lived her whole life with dignity. She should be allowed to die with some dignity.”

Thus began a harrowing few days, and the nursing staff in the long-term facility made our life a living hell, for “allowing Doris to die.” (BTW, this is a well-known, popular facility in Norfolk, Virginia. Email me for more information.)

When hospice arrived, they were our heroes. The chaplain told me and Lisa, “I wish we had more families like you. Too many people say, ‘Do whatever you have to do, but don’t let her die!’ and the loved one ends up in a nursing home, curled up in a fetal position, unaware that they’re even in this world.”

Sunday night, February 1st, Doris asked both me and Lisa to stay with her, and we did. She was clear that it was the right choice, but she was also dealing with some fear. We were melting, but we tried to be brave for her. Lisa and I stayed with her ’round the clock, snatching bits of sleep here and there.

Our beloved Doris passed on February 5th at 5:18 am.

In addition to the non-stop stress and angst purposefully inflicted on us by this facility, we also had the emotional stress of dealing with the passing of a loved one.

For these reasons and more, I’m going to take a break from Facebook, Sears Homes, writing blogs and more. There are more than 900 blogs on this site and thousands of photos. Enjoy them. Learn from them. Share what you’ve learned.

And if you’re so inclined, send a few prayers my way. Lisa and I would be grateful.

Rosemary Thornton

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I met Doris when I was born in 1959, but admittedly, she remembers our first meeting better than I do. She was my mothers nearest and dearest friend. Mother used to tell me, I only need one friend, because shes such a good friend. That was Doris.

I met Doris when I was born in 1959, but admittedly, she remembers our first meeting better than I do. She was my mother's nearest and dearest friend. Mother used to tell me, "I only need one friend, because she's such a good friend." That was Doris. Pictured here is Betty Fuller (far left), Doris (center) and June (right) in 1961, when they took a cruise to Bermuda. June - Doris' lifelong companion - passed in June 2009. When Mother passed in January 2002, Doris and I became even closer. My first book was dedicated to Mom, but she died before it was published. I gave the very first copy (intended for Mom) to Doris. I loved her dearly and I miss her sorely. I take comfort in knowing that the gang is together again, laughing, sharing stories, and enjoying each other's company.

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  1. Maureen Scalley McGlynn
    February 13th, 2015 at 10:53 | #1

    Rosemary,

    I’m sending prayers. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    It is difficult to lose close friends of a parent, they are a direct link to your parent.

    Rest and take care of yourself.

    Maureen

  2. Tammy
    February 13th, 2015 at 11:03 | #2

    Rosemary,

    I am so sorry for your loss. I too experienced watching someone close to me (my mother, age 67) endure an illness from which there was no hope of recovery.

    She had advance directives and told us she was finished with treatments and wanted to go home and die her way.

    Although she told the doctors this, they still privately badgered my dad about doing more to extend her life.

    It caused my family so much angst - because the doctors made us feel like we were giving up and wanted her to die (not said in so many words, of course).

    I know doctors are there to save lives, but at some point quality of life takes priority over quantity.

    Hospice nurses are angels and there is a special place in heaven for them.

    Take all the time you need to grieve and heal and know your Sears family will be praying for you and waiting for you when you get back.

  3. bfish
    February 13th, 2015 at 11:33 | #3

    My best to you and family, Rosemary. My parents lived in a retirement community (with multiple levels of care) in VB; my dad died in 2006 and my mother a few months ago.

    Fortunately my family (husband, sister, brother and their spouses) and I were able to spend time with them and honor, by employing hospice services, their decisions to not prolong life unnecessarily.

    The place they lived didn’t try to interfere with that and we are so grateful.

    I’m sorry that your experience was so different; I would have been absolutely pissed!

    We’ll miss your contributions to “love of old houses” and many other things — hopefully not for too long!

    Many are grateful for the interest you’ve instilled in us and knowledge you’ve shared! Many thanks —

  4. Sandy
    February 13th, 2015 at 20:12 | #4

    Take all the time you need! We just lost my mother in law on February 1st, eight days shy of her 89th birthday too. Thinking of you at this time.

  5. Rhonda LaPointe Frazier
    February 14th, 2015 at 00:54 | #5

    Such a sweet, loving tribute. I’m sorry everyone had to suffer.

    It sounds like you may find comfort in knowing that because of you and Lisa, Doris was allowed to die with the dignity she deserved, in the company of people she loved.

    Take care of yourself. We’ll be here when you’re ready.

  6. JoyceRN
    February 14th, 2015 at 01:08 | #6

    I am so sorry for your loss and sorry for the needless hurt and stress put on your shoulders by people who should know life and death a hell of a lot better than that.

    I’m glad you stood firm in your resolve to follow Doris’s wishes.

    May you know peace, comfort and happy memories of your dear friend.

  7. February 14th, 2015 at 19:07 | #7

    What a lovely tribute you wrote for Doris.

    She was blessed to have you and Lisa close by as dear friends and advocates for her.

    How grateful she must have felt, to be loved and cherished by you. How comforted she must have been for your presence and adherence to her last wish.

    I only hope that when I’m in my last days that I have such a friend or family member.

    God bless you and give you peace, comfort and encouragement.

  8. Molly Todd
    February 15th, 2015 at 20:33 | #8

    Rosemary,

    So sorry that you lost your friend. Thinking of you and wish you some peace and quiet and time to reflect. We will miss your voice on the interwebs!

    Take care,

    Molly

  9. February 16th, 2015 at 08:50 | #9

    Sorry to post this way, but I’m looking for your contact information. I’m working a story on a Sears home (605 North Main St in Wake Forest NC). Please email me. Thank you.

  10. February 16th, 2015 at 14:49 | #10

    I am terribly sorry for your loss.

    I had tried to reach out to you for permission to quote from your books and had not heard back, I now know why.

    Feel free to refer me to your publisher for academic quote requests.

  11. Laura (So Ca)
    February 17th, 2015 at 11:08 | #11

    Rosemary,

    So sorry for your loss. Death to me, is a lesson in LOVE. We all take each moment, each day, each year for granted.

    A close death puts our good fortune of life into perspective. May each passing day, heal your broken heart, and may the memories of Doris bring you comfort.

    PBS Frontline (online) just aired a Documentary “Being Mortal” by an MD/Surgeon.

    It put into perspective how our US health system is a failure at end of life issues. I can’t praise Atul Gawande MD enough.

    You all should watch it. (still there, free)

    May you have a good break, Rose. You deserve it, mensch.

  12. Patricia
    February 17th, 2015 at 19:37 | #12

    Rosemary, My condolences to you, Lisa, and your family.

    Doris would be proud to know how you stood up for her rights and wishes.

    The chaplain was right-too many families cave in.

    It is very difficult to stay with someone you love to honor their last moments.

    As difficult as this was for you and Lisa you did the right thing.

    Take all the time you need to heal your own heart.

    Sincerely, Patricia

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