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Goodbye Sollie

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With teary eyes, Minnie softly utters, “goodbye Sollie, may you rest in peace. I know you will be happy to be united with your husband and sons in eternal life.” She holds the right hand of Sollie tightly for this is the last moment that she will see her.

Sollie is in the hospice ward of a hospital in Southern California. She will expire anytime. Minnie took care of her for almost two years. They became very close to each other and established a relationship as if they are mother and daughter. Minnie recalls her experience with Sollie while walking toward the bus stop.

Sollie was ninety-three year old when she moved in to the board and care facility where Minnie works.

She was a big lady with a snobbish and unapproachable look. She was screaming and yelling to the caregiver. There were even times that she hit the caregiver with her cane when she was extremely agitated.

Sollie was sick with Alzheimer’s disease, probably in the middle stage. She forgot things easily, was sometimes confused, and hallucinated. She interpreted her hallucinations as reality that drove her to be combative. But to everybody’s surprise, Sollie completely changed when Minnie took care of her. Minnie has patience and understands the resident’s condition. She spent time with Sollie, sitting beside her while holding her hands. They talked, they laughed, and sometimes cried. On Minnie’s day off she always had something for Sollie when she came back.

Minnie loves her job as a caregiver. She loves serving the elderly. She fixes the meals of the residents nicely to induce their appetite. She gives flowers, makes them fruit plates and sings with them. Her patience, love, and care transformed Sollie from combative to calm.

Sollie has three sons. When she moved in to the facility where Minnie is working one of her sons was still alive. He is Edward. Her two sons died in their early sixties. Edward visited her regularly but after more than a year, Edward was diagnosed with colon cancer. He was given only five months to live. Edward continued to visits his mother in spite of the fact that he was terminally ill. Sollie didn’t even recognize her son, but this afternoon, she hugged Edward tightly. Probably it’s a mother instinct, a natural feeling of concern that your son is sick.

This was the last visit of Edward to his mom. After a week we just heard that Edward passed away. Sollie never knew about the death of her last surviving son. But every afternoon, Sollie seemed to be waiting. She was expecting somebody to come, not saying anything, but you can see in her eyes the loneliness and the frustrations that she had. Minnie was always on her side trying to make her happy and less depressed. She tried her best to bring back Sollie’s life but everything was in vain.

Sollie seems to lose her interest in life. She lost her appetite and barely ate. There was no glow in her eyes, unlike before when you could see her enthusiasm to live. She finally gave up. She stopped drinking and eating.

She was confined in the hospital and modern medicine couldn’t not do anything for her. I don’t know if it was a part of the disease that she lost the interest to live or if it was because of the depression that her son stopped visiting her and she longed for him. But no matter how confused, forgetful, or disoriented the individual is, in the corner of his or her mind, there is something left that will spark and trigger the attachment, love, and memories that is embodied in their brain.

Sollie is ninety-five year old, lying in bed waiting for her time. Minnie is comforting her, rubbing her chest, for Sollie is catching her breath. How hard for Minnie to see the person who she gave her attention and time to, and now she’s struggling for life. She will miss Sollie—her tantrums, her unpredictable moods, and her transformation from combative to a sweet and nice lady. Minnie is watching Sollie with gloomy eyes. This might be the last time that she will see Sollie alive. She holds her hand tightly and says goodbye to her.

Minnie took a bus to be back in the facility where she is working. It took thirty minutes before she reached the place. Before she enters the front door, her co-caregiver says, “Sollie is gone.

Minnie took a deep breath, “goodbye Sollie … ”


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