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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Loss of a Client

A little over 2 weeks ago I lost one of my favorite human clients to cancer.  Her name was Vera and she was an incredible woman. She wasn't technically my client, but more like a grandmother figure/friend (She was in her early 80's) Picture Magda from Sex and the City - that is the best way to describe her. She was the mother of my actual client who would stay at the apartment with their cat when they went on trips.  The cat had a rough go of it and I was originally hired to medicate the cat while they were away.  This poor cat had 2 blood transfusions (among other things ) and needed a lot of medication in the beginning.  I would give the cat her meds and stay to chat with her afterwards.  After a while the cat was off meds and I would just go to check in and clean the litterbox when the owners were on vacation.  Her daughter made sure that I didn't let her touch the litter since she was getting treated for cancer and her immune system was weaker.  It became a check on the cat and my mother situation (although it was never really said) .

I loved spending time there and chatting with her.  She would tell me stories about growing up in Serbia.  She loved cats and on occasion would sneak kittens home in her coat,.  One time she took one from someones window - he mother made her return it.  We would talk about traveling, how it was stupid that the Dorchester didn't allow cats but people still snuck them in there, food (she loved Chinese food and really good bread).  She would always pay close attention to what I was saying and refer back the next time that I saw her, even if it was 3 months later. She always asked about Mike and my parents even though she never met them. I showed her pictures of my cats and kittens that I would foster and she would ooh and ahh over them.  Last Christmas I found a candle that smelled like fresh bread and dropped it off to her in her building!

Her daughter and son in law live in a beautiful apartment but the electronics are very high tech.  Almost every time they went away she got the TV to turn on and she would watch her tennis, but then the TV wouldn't shut off.  Or the picture shut off and not the sound.  And the volume got stuck so she would try to sleep with the TV blaring sports in the next room.  This kept happening and she never learned how to use it properly.  I tried to figure it out and I may as well have been on a spaceship. That TV system drove her nuts!  And there are also a ton of beautiful orchids in the apartment that she would have to care for and water.  She loved the orchids, but watering them took the whole day for her and was so tedious.  She always made a face, but did it anyway for her daughter.

As she got weaker, she still refused to ask for help.  She was so strong and so proud and would only ask me to get things that were too high up on the shelf. She was independent and stubborn - always saying "I don't know why you have to be here, I tell her I can do myself. I do like to see you dear Debbie, but I can do." She knew that her daughter needed her and she said that she has to be strong for her.  She endured so many transfusions and cancer treatments and this last one made her feel awful.  She lost her appetite along with her hair and her pink cheeks.  I brought her a loaf from Sarcones to try to get her to eat and she tried to make me promise that her daughter would reimburse me for it!  I said, "No way!"  She said, "Debbie, be good girl, let her give you  money."  I told her that if I want to spend $2.50 on a loaf of bread for her, I have the right to do that.  Boy did she fight me on that!  (literally, for about 30 minutes)

The last time I saw her she was telling me about people that she was meeting at Fox Chase Cancer Center.  She said she met a woman with a very sweet husband and the woman said to her, "My husband is wonderful. He is so nice and so sweet and I am a bitch!" Vera was taken aback and told her, "No... no, you're not a bitch."  And the woman said, "No, I really am, and he is so nice."  She told me this story and couldn't believe that the woman saw herself like that.  So Vera's last words to me as I was leaving the apartment were this, "Oh my Dear Debbie.  You be good girl.  Don't be a bitch!"  I kind of love that those were her last words to me.

A few weeks later I went over there for a nail trim and no one mentioned her.  A month later I went for another nail trim and her daughter told me that she was there in the apartment for about 6 weeks.  They had stopped treatment.  She was there for the previous nail trim, but didn't want me to know because she didn't want to get into goodbyes.  Then that day it was too late.She couldn't really see or hear and was just in bed.  I know her and I know that she wouldn't have wanted me to see her like that, but it was tough being that and not even being able to say goodbye or hug her.  About 2 weeks later she passed away.  I'm beyond grateful that I got to know her as well as I did.  Not only did I learn a lot about her and her family history, but I learned alot about the love a mother has for her daughter. I miss her and going to that apartment will never be the same for me ever again.  I'm sure there will be tears, but I know that she will be there with me saying, "Mish Mish, Debbie will kiss you now."  R.I.P. Vera, you were an incredible woman.  You will be missed by many and I hope to one day hug you again.