Colleen’s Website

Memories of Duffy

A friend of mine died today.

Duffy is one of the women I played bridge with. She's 83. Had heart bypass surgery when she was in her 30s. Must have been one of the first ever done. Has 2 pacemakers and has had congestive heart failure for 10 years, which seems like a long time.

I suspect the reason she held out so long was because of her attitude. She could always find something good about anything. She's known her health was failing so in January moved into a retirement home where you have your own apartment and they fix meals. A couple of weeks ago she fell out of bed and hit the nightstand with her face. The whole right side of her face was a big bruise from her forehead to her collar bone. Three days later she played bridge, and told us all “I wore purple to match my face." The next week the congestive heart failure was bothering her so much she could hardly walk... it took her an hour to get from the dining room to her 2nd floor apartment with a walker because she had to keep stopping to rest. She said, "That's a great way to meet your neighbors!" A week and a half ago they discovered she had retained about 15 pounds of water. The next night she went to Kaiser emergency because she couldn't breathe. She was in the hospital until today.

I saw her on Wednesday and yesterday. She was happy she had the choice to live (as she has been, pretty painful - we didn't know she'd been hiding the pain from everybody) or to die. She chose to go. She said they would move her to a convalescent hospital and give her strong medication, I guess to ease the pain until the congestive heart failure took her. I had started making her a quilt a couple of months ago but put it on hold when she went into the hospital. Once again, my timing is totally wrong. After seeing her yesterday it sounded like she had more time, although it might only be weeks. So today I took her the quilt. I missed her by half an hour. Apparently once they put her on a morphine drip she went really fast. That's what she wanted.

She has 3 sons, and one (from Seattle) was there the whole week, as was her brother and a couple of grandchildren. The other two sons were there but not when I was. I asked her son to give the quilt to somebody in the family. She had constant visitors during the last week, which was nice because we all got to tell her what she meant to us. Kept her sense of humor to the end. She's my role model for getting old. Attitude is everything. I still miss her.