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photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, August 9, 2014

No Promises

Sometimes people keep going on out of sheer cussedness. No matter what seems to be the limits a body and mind can take, they just keep going...because they have to.

My friend Edna was like that.

When she was 13 her mother died and she was left to pretty much raise her younger siblings (and herself) alone. This was in 1932. She got through it out of sheer cussedness.

When she was a reasonably new bride with a reasonably new baby, her husband was killed in WWII and she bucked all tradition and did NOT find another man to marry who could support herself and her baby- she'd seen too many stepkids being treated as literal 'red-headed stepchildren' and wasn't about to have that happen to her son. This was in 1943. She got through it out of sheer cussedness.

It wasn't easy. It was never easy. The worry of being sure there was a roof overhead and food on the table was deeply ingrained in her and in the last year of her life, when there was so much information and memories stuffed into her brain that it all started getting muddled she'd fret and become vexed and outright agitated. She was filled with a roiling core of sheer cussedness.

"We need to be looking for another house."

"Why, Edna? This IS your house."

"Oh, it is not!"

"Yes, it is- they built it to your specifications and we wrote a check for it and decided where on the farm it would set. I was there. This is your house."

"Well...if you say so it must be true."

"I promise you. It's true."


At 94, she was very slow getting around, but she got up every day these last few months getting ready to go to work.

"Where are you going, Edna?"

"I'm going to work, of course."

"You don't have to do that- you're retired."

"I am??? Thank goodness. I'm too tired to go to work."


Edna kept her own house, cleaned, cooked, did laundry, tended her garden and her dog, till about six months ago. It became too much for her physically and she was starting to forget the order things were done in...cooking, coffee making, laundry.

I said, "As long as she doesn't wander away and set shit on fire, she's OK."

One day, she did both in the matter of four hours.

A daily living service started coming for six hours a day. Then eight. Then twelve. In between and around, Joe and I took turns checking on her, sitting with her, tucking her in at night.

I had a baby monitor set up with one end on her refrigerator and the other on my headboard.

I slept with 'mom ears' for almost three years.

Twelve days ago at 2am, she got up for a drink of water and fell...hard.

In a matter of minutes, we were at her side and in another thirty minutes she was in the emergency room.

Fractured hip- three breaks. Cracked elbow. The X-Ray showed not only the fractures on her right hip, but a crack in her left hip. ICU. Surgery. More surgery when the elbow became infected. Home.

This was her third stay in our local hospital. The other two were for bladder infections. Every time she's rallied and come home, but just a bit weaker than before; starting out a bit lower on the strong scale. But rally she did...including checking herself out AMA, then sitting at her kitchen table eating pizza and drinking beer three days later. Cussedness, thy name is Edna.

They transported her home via ambulance, because of the two broken hips and all. We had a hospital bed installed in her living room to be her command station.

Something about the transport scared and disoriented her and she fought the EMT's, wearing herself out and hurting...something. Somewhere.

The assigned nurse came out, assessed her pain level and noted her failing circulation and accumulating fluid in her limbs and tummy and said, "You don't need me. You need hospice."

The hospice nurse came out, assessed her falling blood pressure and oxygen saturation even with constant oxygen and said, "It won't be long. She's just plumb wore out. Our goal now is to keep her comfortable."

When Edna and I took our epic road trips back and forth to Oklahoma, and even our run of the mill weekly trips to have her hair done and out to lunch, the boys would say, "Ya'll don't get into trouble now- no bar hopping and dancing on tables." We'd grin and say

"No promises."

Some days when I'd visit her on my way to work she'd say, "Don't work too hard and don't hurt anyone." I'd grin and say

"No promises."

Some days I'd be leaving her house and say, "So and so will be here in a minute to stay with you for a while- don't give her any trouble or try to run away." and she'd grin and say

"No promises."

By yesterday morning she was very weak and sleeping most of the time. When she'd wake up she was in pain so sharp it brought tears to all of our eyes. Before her next dose of morphine set in I kissed her and said, "I'll see you later." She looked up at me, smiled and said

"No promises."

Those were the last words she spoke to me.

The boys tell me that bringing her here after she got pneumonia and decided she couldn't live alone in Oklahoma anymore gave her the best three years of her life.

Having Edna for my friend was an honor, and an inspiration, and a joy, and a daily lesson in tenacity and cussedness, and I'll miss her every single day of my life.

Edna Hoskins, born at home in Oklahoma 9/15/1919

Died at home in Texas 8/8/2014





5 comments:

  1. Oh Sheri, I'm so glad you and Edna had each other. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  2. I believe in gifts without price. What you and Edna had was that: a gift without price. For all your sakes, the choices you made were the right path for each and every one of you. The lessons along the way are the ribbons on the gift.

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  3. I always loved hearing your
    Edna stories and felt as if I knew her and that she was living just mere feet from my home. How wonderful that you both were so close, that you became trusting friends...until the end. May her memory be a blessing to you all.

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  4. Thank you for being there for Edna and Joe. The were both blessed to have found you and your family

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  5. I am so sorry my beloved friend. She is giving you light to steer by and lives on in you. Take care of your self and if you need ANYTHING please let me know.

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