Esther was there for four days full of meaning on so many levels. On one occasion I had an aide help me place her in a wheelchair so that we could go outside in the warmth of the sun to enjoy the beautiful gardens. As the sun was setting we came in to find a group of men singing four-part harmony. Sensing Esther's tiredness, I wheeled her into her room, and the men followed asking if they could come in and sing some more. Well, why not? They proceeded to sing old love songs. Standing behind Esther to steady her head, I glanced around to see her smiling wistfully. What a moment in time.
Later, we were gathered around Esther when a diminutive lady entered and asked if she could come in and visit. She introduced herself and began asking comforting questions. Then she asked if she could sing a song for us. She sang it a cappella, and it was truly beautiful. She offered a prayer and left. I had to follow her out because of my own doubts, misgivings and fears about what lay ahead. She was a true blessing to me, giving me the strength that I needed in the following days.
Our neighbors, Tim and Lorene, brought the family dog for a visit. She jumped up on the bed and with hands and paws joined, Tim led us in prayer.
Father Sadie came to visit and give the sacraments. Afterward, Esther told Father Sadie how she wanted her funeral. He chuckled and said she would receive as good a funeral Mass as any bishop with a choir, organ -- "the works," he called it. And she did.
Each of our children stayed one night while I went home to rest, giving them time to spend with their mother to remember, to prepare, to say goodbye in their own time and way. On the fourth evening, Esther passed peacefully with my eldest son present.
There was much grief and sorrow to follow from the separation and loss, but there was gladness in that, thanks to the efforts of many who serve through HospiceCare and Hubbard Hospice House, my wife had a red carpet to heaven.
Jim Brannon lives in Poca. He may be emailed at jpbran...@comcast.net.