Faithful readers of this blog will recall my various and sundry encounters with the woman who lives next door, some good, some bad, some damned ugly!
She has been in and out of various hospitals and nursing homes for well nigh eighteen months. Most recently she has been in a very fine nursing home down in Venice, FL. I tried to get to see her about once a week, mostly for the sake of her three brothers who live in Michigan.
The oldest brother, a retired Judge, called me last Friday to let me know that she had consented to receive hospice care - her end being somewhere in sight due to persistent congestive heart failure.
He asked me to find a lawyer so that she could make a will (not that she has any wealth [far from it], but to facilitate the disposal of her estate "when the time comes".
I got to see her last Saturday. She was subdued, sad, and weepy, but glad to be at peace with her three brothers. We talked about dying. She grinned a bit and said "c'st la vie" (!). I assured her that bygones were bygones.
Later I contacted my very fine lawyer by e-mail (he was out of town) to set up a time when he could visit her to make the will. Monday looked promising.
But by Monday when I visited she was so confused and dis-oriented that I had to call the lawyer and the brother to state that in my opinion she was not competent to sign a will.
Late Monday night she was "rushed" to the Venice Hospital. Her brother called me with this news on Tuesday morning, and I promised to visit her. (He and his wife had plane tickets to fly down on later that day).
Once at the hospital on Tuesday afternoon I discovered that she was receiving enhanced treatments to raise the oxygen level in her bloodstream. She was restless and combative.
I called the brother (by now at the Detroit Airport) to report this. When I said that she was combative he replied "that's new" (referring to her present medical condition). I responded "That's new? I have been dealing with her combative spirit for eight years". He could scarcely stop laughing!
Well, he and his wife got into town late on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday they visited my neighbour (by now back in the Nursing Home), and he talked with my lawyer to present all the details.
The Lawyer e-mailed me the basic and simple will that he had prepared. I printed it. The brother picked it up this morning and took it to the Nursing Home.
My neighbour was cogent and aware. She signed the will with utter free will (thank goodness that the Nursing Home has an employee who is a Notary Public, and was able to notarize the will).
I will have lunch with the brother and his wife on Saturday (they'd better pay!). They will return to Michigan early Tuesday morning. I'll do my best to provide on-going pastoral care to my neighbour, even though "Loving my neighbour" isn't easy.
But please do not tell me that I am "good". I am simply doing the right thing, and there is no particular merit in that.