Sis lived much of her life in Gallup, NM, where my family would stay with her twice a year; in the summer, and around Christmas or Thanksgiving. My mother lived with her during the summer when she was younger and worked at Tobe Turpen's Trading Post, so they were very close. So as Sis got to a point where she could no longer live on her own, Mom and Dad brought her to live with them in Flagstaff around Christmastime two years ago.
They may have regretted it a little bit, having a cantankerous old woman suffering chronic short-term memory loss, but on the whole, we all felt that this was the right thing for her. Sis would never put up with being put in a rest home and outright refused to go to the hospital after being in and out several times throughout her 80s. I was mostly around as "support staff" for when my parents needed to be somewhere else, though we also had a caregiver in at points (Marlene, who also took care of my grandmother when she was living with us in the final years of her life), and Hospice workers when things really headed downhill. Generally, Sis was a joy to everyone around her, with her offbeat Wilson sense of humor (passed down the line to me, methinks). But, she did have her moments, as my dad will certainly tell you. She tended to forget whose house she was in ("It's MY house and I'll do as I like!") or that she wasn't supposed to smoke inside the house ("It's MY house and I'll do as I like!"), or that she wasn't supposed to smoke while wearing her oxygen hose ("It's MY house and I'll do as --" "Oh NO you don't! You're not blowing us up!")... so there were some tiffs from time to time. Silk especially loved her... someone to pet her all day, as long as she kept begging and scratching, causing Sis to holler. Sis also couldn't hear or see very well anymore, as happens with old age and refusal to have things fixed (wouldn't be worth it, she figured years before, planning to die "soon" anyway), and would start hollering for us whenever she thought she'd been left alone... which, as things progressed, was every minute or so.
That being said, she was independent and willful to a fault, right up until the last couple of weeks, my mom reports to me. She would always get up and dress herself, comb her hair, and walk around the house with her walker, trailing oxygen-machine tubing along after her.
Mom thinks she really enjoyed her last few years with us. I didn't see much of her once I moved to the Netherlands, but talked to her on Skype weekly when she was still moving around. She had become sort-of a fifth grandparent for me. I'll miss her, but I'm not terribly grieved by the loss... I'm glad she's not suffering; the last couple weeks, she'd been plagued with muscle cramps and spasms (morphine and lorazopan for the pain would generally knock her out for a few days at a time), and had had a couple of TIA events. Death is only hard on the people left behind, though in our case, it is a release as well.
I only wish she'd hung around a couple more weeks, so I'd be able to see her again. As it is, Mom is working things out in a way that Arno and I will be around for the graveside service in Gallup, and thus Arno will get to meet the Gallup branch of the family and taste some of New Mexico's finest cuisine (at least, I'm hoping... as long as travel plans allow!).
Some of you may remember this comic: Arno and Beedoo! - Went to Reno. When we left for Reno, Sis was sitting outside in the sun at the garage door. We explained to her where we were going (again), and, remembering Reno for its casino's:
Sis: "Ooh... Well, I get half of everything you win then."
Then Sis grinned and said:
Sis: "I said I can't hear ya!"
Mr. and Mrs. Beedoo!'s parents have worked hard to make her last few years as good as they can be. I don't think many people would follow in their footsteps. I must pay them a big compliment for that. I hope they will come to enjoy the rest that will follow, though I fear the house will seem empty.