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Pine nuts: Bless the hospice folks 

McAvoy Layne / Columnist

Like you, I’ve always thought the world of Hospice folks, though my high regard was boosted higher yet when I received an email from a cousin of mine whose birthday it was yesterday. I had sent her customary well wishes and was eagerly opening her reply when her words sent my heart leaping into my throat… 

“I’m sorry to tell you this, Cousin, but I’m with Hospice and going to be leaving today to cross over and join my loving Bobby and your dear mother Barbara.  My cancer has spread to my liver and skull.  I’m so awfully tired. Hospice is here, bless them, and I’m taking some comfort in thinking of all the fun we had as kids together. I hope this finds you well, as I send bushels of love.” 

My legs almost buckled under me, but I stood the gravity and finality of her words. Why did she not tell me when she entered Hospice care, back when she had six months or six weeks or six days to live? All I can guess is she must have rested assured I would contact her on her birthday, so she would let me know then, not suspecting her birthday would be her last day. Oh my… 



Losing a family member is always hard, but harder yet when they are younger than you. We ought to be allowed to get promoted to glory in chronological order, but then I am not the superintendent. 

My thoughts drifted back to our childhood days when she would beat me down the slopes, and wait patiently for me to arrive, never bragging about how good a skier she was. In showing-off to her I once swam two lengths of the pool underwater. When I surfaced she gave me a standing ovation, dived in, and swam three lengths underwater. When I threw a front somersault off the diving board, she followed me with a one and a half, and landed it without a splash. That was just the grand & glorious, magnificent but modest, person she was. 



She would send me an edible number on my birthday, made out of sticky Rice Krispies cakes that were delicious. What could I possibly say to her on her last day on this Earth? There are no words, but when there are no words, we must find words… 

“My heart is in my throat, Cousin. Be brave -you always are. In one big air-hug I’m sending my love to you. I’m so looking forward to your greeting me on the other side, and welcoming me with a solid shot to my shoulder like you always do. You can teach me how to fly. I don’t know if I can beat you in a race around a billowy white thunderhead, but I’m going to try.” 

I had to stop writing just there, as my eyes were clouding up, and I could no longer find nor see the words… 

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at ghostoftwain.com.


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