I have no idea why, but in retrospect I anticipated that the point at which Mary could no longer be put in the shower would be the most important milestone for me in her decline. I had no problem with the concept or actuality of changing diapers, but I couldn't imagine getting her clean enough with a plastic tub of water and wash cloth.
She stares at me, eyes wide open, imploring me for something. Mary’s eyes are rarely wide open anymore and for some reason they close when she sits up and open when she lies down. Her daughter compares it to a doll with open and closing eyes.
When I first met Mary, as a potential candidate for a caregiver position, Jo said, "That's Mary." Jo is Mary's daughter. But Mary didn't say anything because she couldn't. I guess. She sat in a chair a couple of feet away from me while I interviewed for a position to take care of her with Jo. And so I thought: Mary is old. She is sitting in a chair. She is a white woman. Her arms are locked in a particular position because of a previous stroke. And so I thought: That's Mary.
Mary died today at 12:30 pm except for that last sigh, which is not really a breath anyway. It went well for Mary and me because we kept strangers to a minimum and friends to a maximum. We were surrounded by friends, who are empathic, smart and creative people. Mary continued to make friends her entire life even up to three weeks ago.
Having known Mary for my whole life, I never thought of her as contrary. In the last years of her life she became fond of reciting limericks and rhymes which contained her name specifically, "Mary Mary quite contrary." Maybe, the sound of "Mary" spoken in her own voice and heard with her own ears added some solidity to her being as her being was slipping away.