We’re living in what midwife Michelle calls “Ellen time,” floating through each day with each hour calling us to be fully present. For the past ten days or so, Ellen has been speaking with more facility, had longer time periods of alertness, and been quite active physically, getting up many times a day and moving about from bed to couch to chair to bathroom. While she’s more alert, she’s occasionally unclear and confused. Eric, Kathryn, and others around Ellen are appreciating when she communicates a full idea and we often find humor in what she says, which is good for the soul.
Here’s one example: For years, Ellen has been going to peer review each month in Saugerties, greatly enjoying these get-togethers where midwives share resources, discuss concerns, analyze complex cases, and otherwise support each other professionally. At the September peer review gathering, the midwives celebrated Ellen, bringing stories and poems and Ellen’s favorite varieties of chocolates. Then on Sunday, midwife Birdie came to see Ellen to share with her about that special gathering in her honor and to pass along some poems and cards. As Birdie was getting started, Ellen commented, “Just tell me a little bit, because I don’t want to get too jealous.”
Here’s one that got a hearty laugh out of Eric: Ellen said to him, “Would you please get me my … heavy … volunteers?” “Oh,” says Eric picking up her sheepskin slippers, “Do you mean these?” (Yup. How did he know that?!)
This one also brought laughter: Jesse came home for a quick visit tonight and caught Eric in the midst of helping Ellen move from place to place. “Spinning around, huh?” asked Jesse, and Ellen replied, “That’s what we do all day.”
It’s clearer that Ellen’s busy-ness is the terminal restlessness many people experience during this phase, and we’re feeling grateful that for Ellen, it’s not a frustrated or anxious state but a purposeful and peaceful state, with her going about her business. Today nurse Elizabeth noted a couple of other “transition” symptoms like signs of decreasing blood circulation. She asked Ellen if she has any anxiety about dying and Ellen responded that she does not, which was good to hear.
Here is one of my favorite photos of Ellen, taken one time when we were at the Cunuñacu hot springs in the valley below Quito, Ecuador. Do you have a favorite photo of Ellen you’d be willing to share with the family? If so, please send high-resolution versions by email (don’t worry about MB size) to Ellen’s sister Deb at email@example.com. If you can provide the date, location, and names of others in the photos, that would be helpful.