Monday, December 5, 2011


Pearle L. Strain
October 6, 1919 - November 30, 2011
The best part was, almost the whole family was there. For someone who devoted her entire life to her kids and grandkids, it was about as perfect as a passing can be. 

About a week before Thanksgiving, she stopped eating. As simple as that, it seemed she was letting us all know, enough. So the family came and gathered. We sat in her living room. We slept by her bed. We helped her to be comfortable. We ate pumpkin pie in her kitchen. As best we could, we helped her transition. We helped each other transition.

Though I've been a part of this family for six years, going through this journey with Patrick's parents and aunts has brought them closer in a way I didn't expect. Experiences like this change people. Empathy deepens. Understandings emerge where they never existed before. For a week we waited and watched. 

I was standing in the room with her two daughters when she slipped, peaceful as fog, from one side to the other. It was honestly beautiful-- a release she'd been wanting for some time, I think. Patrick's parents came just minutes after. Patrick came, too, from work. We all stood around with tears glittering on our faces, shocked in spite of ourselves.

Later in the day, we gathered in her sunroom to open a bottle (perhaps two) and share stories. We talked about Thanksgivings and Christmases, and the year she single-handedly drained a bottle of Bailey's before coming over for dinner. We joked about her tongue, which had loosened considerably in old age. We lovingly retold some acutely embarrassing stories of when that tongue had been unleashed in public places, complete with pitch-perfect imitations. Patrick's dad and his sisters shared stories, some near-legend quality, from their childhood: The Great Chicken Massacre. Shooting Groundhogs from the Attic. 

I'm pretty sure she was right there with us all the while, listening and laughing along.

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Becky said...

What a wonderful send off for an amazing woman! XOXOX

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