The Final Act of Living, including the Subversive Happy Hour

The dying experience is a very interesting process. That may be morbid to you. If you are up for it, I highly recommend The Final Act of Living by Barbara Karnes, RN, a great, comforting book about, well, the final act of living on this side of things.

Things are quiet today. My mom is resting, sleeping mostly, and occasionally awakes to ask a question that has more to do with what she is dreaming than what’s going on in this room. But yesterday, her Saturday Happy Hour Group (they call this a “meeting”) was sorry she couldn’t join them so they brought the “meeting” to her room. She perked up, told a few stories, disagreed with opinions expressed (this group often gets into theological discussions ranging from the Catholic priesthood to whether nuns should wear habits), and generally pontificated. It is sort of a rowdy bunch, considering these are nursing home residents. Wherever my mom goes, she finds the subversives, befriends them, and then argues with them.

After they left, she settled down and became much less animated. It fascinated me how she has so little energy all day, and then for a half an hour she seemed like her same old, sassy self.

The Karnes book discusses the slow detachment from this world as a person moves toward what’s on the other side of this world. Whether you believe on the other side there is nothing, or there are pearly gates with Peter at a check-in kiosk, or there is something in between, the book is very helpful while observing a loved one make a slow departure.

I think it is a great blessing to be able to embrace the final act of living. That doesn’t mean I’m not sad or worried or angry at times. I am all three of those things.

Living is work, good work, that we all get to do. But dying is work. It is a separation. And it can be good work too.

When it is my time, I hope I choose to make it good work.

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