Today I tearfully said goodbye to an amazing woman. A woman I knew my entire life but which was only a fraction of her life. Mrs. Eligh passed away this week at the age of 100. She lived two doors down from the house I grew up in (and in which my parents still live) and she lived there her entire life until 5 years ago when, at age 95, she had to move into a senior’s residence – mainly because of her failed eyesight. She was like a grandmother to me in many ways and spent countless holidays with our family as her family lived out of town. I remember vividly being a young girl – maybe 13 – and her having me, alone, over for lunch on her back porch. We had cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off. And she treated me like I was a grown-up and was interested in what was going on my life. That was special for a 13 year old.
Mrs. Eligh, as we all called her, lived EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. of her life. Her husband died when they were only in their 40s leaving her to run the household – including creating a career for herself at a time when most women were housewives. And she was successful – oh, how she was successful. In everything she did. Perhaps her greatest legacy will be how she gave back to her family, friends, community and strangers. She volunteered, for instance, for one major charity in the region for 70 years. SEVENTY YEARS! She raised a beautiful family, she devoured thousands of books, she traveled the world, and she was interested in the lives in those around her. But after 100 years, she decided she had had enough. She was not sad, she was just tired and felt that from here on, it would only be a steady decline in her abilities and quality of life. And so, left with no other choice to end her life with dignity, she simply stopped eating and drinking – except for 1 tablespoon of scotch over an ice cube at 3pm each day (she was such a character!). And over the weeks, in no pain, she simply drifted off into death. Doing it the way she led her life – the way she wanted. She always said that you may not always expect or like what you get in life, but once you got your head around it, you’d create a new path to a new destination.
So for those of us at her service today, we all recognized that our grief was really about our own selfish sense of loss. Her passing is exactly what she wanted. And she deserved to choose that it was her time – she certainly earned that.
Oct 2013-Apr 2014
Today I have the day off from work. I will start to pack and prepare for my trip tomorrow. On my way home from the funeral I stopped off and got some US currency…ugh…for the next few days I have to pay EXTRA attention when paying for things in cash. We’re simple folk here in Canada and each bill is a different colour making it VERY easy to tell which is which!