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A Request From The Folks At Home

October 23, 2005

Just popping in for a second, at the request of my parents, of all people.

My grandmother died this afternoon. I don't really feel like writing about it right now, but eventually, I will probably get around to telling you all about her.

Basically, y'all should know that she was an awesome, no-bullshit kind of lady. She was classy, and she was cool, and she was a hell of a lot of fun. We took her out to dinner every Sunday, and every Sunday, she demanded a filet mignon and a glass of champagne.

This...has a tendency to limit your restaurant selection. But she insisted, and I'm glad she did. I hope she enjoyed the hell out of it.

There are some great stories about my grandmother that I will probably tell y'all sometime. She adored Dukay, for example, and wouldn't let him enter her home unless she had put on her lipstick. And she always wore bright red lipstick. The redder, the better. She was that kind of girl.

We called my grandmother Sissie, and that's actually a pretty awesome story right there; when she was born -- into a family of three girls -- they were getting desperate for a brother. So when she came out, minus the...you know, boy parts they had hoped for, they immediately dubbed her "Sister Bill." Her real name was Catherine, but she's been known as Sissie ever since. I have never, in all of my life, heard her called "Catherine." She is Sis.

And Sissie died today; it wasn't sudden, because she had been becoming more and more frail for years, and hospital trips had become pretty common. About ten days ago, she was taken to the hospital for the last time.

On Friday, Sis left the hospital and was placed into hospice care at Hospice Atlanta. And they were so kind. When she died there this afternoon, we all knew that she was comfortable. She was surrounded by the people that she loved. And then she was gone.

I did not want to write about Sissie's death, and frankly, I had no intention of announcing any of this to the world at large. Sis lived until she was almost ninety, and she had a wonderful and full life. Sis was a reason to celebrate, and I didn't think I could write about her without sounding like it was some ploy for sympathy, and that was not my intention at all. And so I decided that I would just take a few days, and then I would return, probably with a story about chopping off my remaining toes, or buying the entire Fall inventory at Zappo's.

However, after I got home this evening, my parents called me with a request. They asked me to tell all of y'all about what wonderful work Hospice Atlanta is doing. And they are doing wonderful work; they have a beautiful facility, with a library, private dining rooms, and a chapel. Sissie's room opened onto a patio with a fountain. It is a peaceful place.

But the people there are truly extraordinary; the nurses and doctors who attended to Sis were so kind, and so understanding. They sat with us, and they were willing to talk for as long as we wanted. On Friday, my father met with the doctor in charge; later, when he told me about his visit, he was amazed that she had been so giving with her time.

"She would have talked to me all day, if I had needed it," he told me, amazed. "And she would have listened to me all day, too."

The services offered by Hospice Atlanta are completely covered by Medicare. They provide care for anyone with a short life expectancy, and they have the resources to make that time as comfortable as possible -- not only for those who are dying, but also for those who are left behind.

And Hospice Atlanta, like many other hospices around the country, is a non-profit organization. They rely primarily on donations in order to maintain their services. Oddly, we have donated to the facility for years, without really knowing what they did; tomorrow, however, we will be making a donation in honor of Sister Bill, champagne dinners, and one enormous crush on my boyfriend.

If you can, I urge you to give to Hospice Atlanta, in memory of someone you love. And even if you can't, I hope you put on some Frank Sinatra and your best red lipstick, and smile a little, for a lady who knew it was time to go.

Posted by doxie in General Whining | permalink

67 Comments

Oh, Miss Doxie -- I am very sorry. Sissie sounds like a wonderful lady, and you probably got much of what makes you so fabulous from her. Except, perhaps, that she did not have wardrobe malfunctions with the same regularity as you. I'm sure, though, that you made her very proud, and very happy. Take care of yourself.

Posted by: Erica | October 23, 2005 08:41 PM

Oh, Leigh, I'm sorry. But you know, she sounds like a hell of a class act, who was loved a lot and had her shit straight. And lived a long time. A life like that is worth much celebration.

And your words hit home, because my 76-year-old mama has cancer, and the word "hospice" isn't entirely a stranger to me these days. That one in Atlanta sounds like a peach (pun intended). Sending money and good wishes to them, and warm thoughts to you and your family.

Posted by: Gretchen C. | October 23, 2005 09:14 PM

My grandma passed away a couple of years ago, and it was pretty much the saddest thing ever. I'm sorry for your loss. And I hope our grandmas are hanging out in heaven, cause yours sounds pretty cool.

Posted by: Eulallia | October 23, 2005 10:14 PM

She sounds like a cool grandma. I'm glad you got to spend so much time with her. This just reminds me to call my grandma and tell her I love her more often. She doesn't wear red lipstick, but she does have a martini purse that's awesome and won't let anyone take her picture if she's wearing glasses. I'm sorry you lost her.

Posted by: Ryan | October 23, 2005 10:18 PM

Condolences to you and your family. Having lost both grandmas, I feel you. Tonight I'll have a drink to Sissie.

Posted by: Lori | October 23, 2005 10:37 PM

Man, this entry slays me. Still, who doesn't want to die like Sis - after living well and very long, wrapping it all up in a peaceful place surrounded by people who love you. A class act, indeed.

Cheers to the Hospice, and to The Chairman and champagne; but most of all, ginormous cheers to Sis.

Posted by: Tracy | October 23, 2005 10:50 PM

A woman like you've described your grandmother to have been would have been proud to have you write that post for her. I've often wanted to write something that conveyed so much of a person as well as your feeling for her so simply, but never have been able to: your post and your parents wish to ask for help for the hospice is both gracious and deeply touching.
You and your family are in my thoughts. Take care of each other.

Posted by: Stacey | October 23, 2005 11:52 PM

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved Sissie, but it sounds like she had a wonderful life with family, filet mignon, and her bright red lipstick! It is nice to know that she was able to enjoy her last days at a place like Hospice Atlanta.

I lost the only grandmother I had ever known in 2002. She was 76 years old, my cribbage/scrabble partner, and the only person that ever seemed to listen to me. So my prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. When things get hard, just remember the love and the laughter...it will help you pull through.

Posted by: Ivie | October 24, 2005 12:42 AM

Oh Doxie! How strange. My grandfather died last week, and I haven't been able to update my blog since... I cant write about him but I cant not... so today I had resolved to write something short and definitely sweet, and I read my daily updated blogs (which you are one of! thanks for writing!) and then I read this post from you and... well, now I just totally have to write.

Thanks for doing what you do.

Posted by: Joke | October 24, 2005 03:44 AM

So sorry, Leigh. It's wonderful that she had such a long and full life and that she kept that joie de vivre right up to the end.

Posted by: Tina | October 24, 2005 04:25 AM

i was thinking, surely i cant be the first person to leave a comment on this, but then i read your comments thingy isnt working. im not sure i have commented on here before, so here i am and now i dont know what to write.

Posted by: monkey | October 24, 2005 06:52 AM

*crying* I'm so sorry, I know you will miss her so much. My grandmother died 12 years ago and I still miss her. I'll wear red lipstick today (we don't have any champagne, but I'll drink a beer in a champagne flute).

Posted by: Sheryl | October 24, 2005 06:58 AM

So sorry to hear about Sissie. Condolences to you and your family.

Posted by: Nicole | October 24, 2005 07:45 AM

That was a beautiful tribute. I'm so glad your family was able to use a hospice facility that did what it was supposed to do and did it respectfully and with real care and concern. I hope the memories of Sissie stick with you always.

Posted by: Emily | October 24, 2005 08:08 AM

What a wonderful tribute to what seems like a terrific lady and a caring organization. Hospice work is completely underestimated and underappreciated these days. Thanks for taking time to honor your grandmother and the people who helped her.

Posted by: Pammer | October 24, 2005 08:23 AM

Leigh, I'm so sorry. But what a beautiful tribute! Today is the 7th anniversary of my mother's passing, and I've still not been able to write anything as beautiful as that. Mostly I wallow in self-pity...

But now you've inspired me to write something about mom's life instead of her death. That's a good way to refocus.

Thank you.

Posted by: Pley | October 24, 2005 08:24 AM

That was really nice. Sounds like Sis had a rich & wonderful life. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Posted by: sam | October 24, 2005 08:50 AM

Thinking bout you and yours, Leigh.

Posted by: Em | October 24, 2005 08:59 AM

So very sorry about the loss of your Grandmother. She sounds like a wonderful woman.

The folks at Hospice are a special group of people, and really doubt that anything could ever compensate for what they give out.

Posted by: Jon in Michigan | October 24, 2005 09:44 AM

doxie, why do you have to go and make me cry while i'm eating my toast. i'm so glad to know about hospice atlanta and to hear about your grandmother. i hope she is hanging out with my grandmother lela and my husband's grandma betty. they would be a fun and whacky trio.

Posted by: Katie | October 24, 2005 10:12 AM

i'm sorry for your loss. it sounds like she was a wonderful person and i wish i'd known her.

Posted by: minnie | October 24, 2005 10:38 AM

Oh Leigh, I am really so very deeply sorry for your loss. Your Sissy sounds a lot like my Nana, and I miss her still, 10 years later.

Just from what you said, Sissy sounds like she was a pretty spectacular lady.

Bless all of you. And tomorrow? Just for Sissy, I will don the brightest, most brazen red lipstick in my arsenal.

Rest in eternal peace Sissy.....

Posted by: Scarlett Cyn | October 24, 2005 11:30 AM

I shall be wearing my red lipstick the next time I dance to Frank with my Fidos in memory of Sissy.

Posted by: Heather | October 24, 2005 11:58 AM

My sincere condolences.

Posted by: allison | October 24, 2005 12:56 PM

I'm sorry for the loss your family has experienced, but what a blessing to have had such an amazing woman in your life. I think your description of her explains a lot about how you are the way you are. I promise to crank up Ole' Blue Eyes tonight, wear some red lipstick, and raise my champagne glass to Sis and the amazing, inspiring women who have graced my life.

Ya'll are in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: Sabine | October 24, 2005 12:57 PM

Hospice is indeed amazing, thank you for sharing the story of how it touched your life. And my condolences on the loss of Sissie. She sounds like a very cool lady.

Posted by: Kate | October 24, 2005 01:33 PM

What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful lady.

You're all in my prayers.

Posted by: Ann | October 24, 2005 02:26 PM

I'm so sorry about Sis. You have done a wonderful job of commemorating her here.

Posted by: TB | October 24, 2005 02:28 PM

I am so sorry about your grandma's death. It's obvious she was an amazing woman who was a great force in your life.

Posted by: Polichick | October 24, 2005 03:23 PM

I am so sorry for your loss. Your grandmother sounded like she was awesome. I like the donation to the hospice. When my grandfather died, that's what we did. Instead of bringing food to the Shiva call, donate the money to the hospice. It's a great idea.

She would have loved this entry about her.

Posted by: Libragirl | October 24, 2005 06:14 PM

I'm sorry for your loss, Leigh. I hope that people remember me so fondly one day -- she sounds like quite a woman.

Posted by: Martha | October 24, 2005 07:48 PM

Thank you for sharing your memories about Sis - she sounds like the kind of woman who would have liked to know that hundreds of people are thinking fondly about her today and celebrating her life.

Posted by: demery | October 24, 2005 08:02 PM

I am so sorry for your loss.

Posted by: Brighton | October 24, 2005 09:14 PM

I'm sorry for your loss. It's wonderful that hospice was such a good experience for your family.

I can't wait to hear the stories about someone who was clearly a very special lady.

Posted by: holley | October 24, 2005 09:17 PM

i've never posted a comment, but i am sitting here crying for your loss and i wanted you to know that i think your grandmother sounds like the kind of woman i want to be. and thanks for the cry, i needed it.

Posted by: jackie | October 24, 2005 10:01 PM

My condolences on your loss, Leigh. It's wonderful to know that she lived a long, full life and went in comfort, but still, it's a loss for those who love her. I'm sorry.

Hospice workers are angels. I'm not surprised they were so caring.

Posted by: Mir | October 24, 2005 10:13 PM

I am very sorry for your loss. You and your family will be in our prayers

Posted by: Jonelle | October 25, 2005 08:32 AM

Sorry to hear about your loss. I'm glad that she had such a wonderful place to be in comfort before she passed.

Posted by: Jessie | October 25, 2005 10:25 AM

I have a bottle of champagne sitting in my fridge. I have been waiting for an occasion to open it. Your story of your wonderful Sis reminds me that life is an occasion. I will be popping the cork today and making a toast to strong, beloved women. Here's to Sis, her long life, her loving family and the wonderful people who made her passing more peaceful. I wish you comfort and peace.

Posted by: Julie | October 25, 2005 10:51 AM

Leigh – I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Sissie sounded like one incredible lady. I want to second you on your plea for Hospice Atlanta. It is where my grandmother (“Butter” – another great story) had her last days as well. The staff was so loving and helpful. My thoughts are with your family. Love – S.

Posted by: suzanna danna | October 25, 2005 11:01 AM

I'm so sorry. My step-grandmother died yesterday afternoon as well. She was 91. Sissie is in good company because Mum was an amazing lady who will keep her good company.

Hang in there.

Posted by: Michelle | October 25, 2005 11:04 AM

Leigh -
I know nothing I say at this time could bring you the comfort of just having your Grandmother back, but I hope you know the love she has for you will never disapear, as well as the love from your friends and family.

I wish you a big hug, and peace in the knowledge that she loved you, and always will. My thoughts are with you.

Jennifer

Posted by: Jennifer | October 25, 2005 11:46 AM

Leigh, thanks for sharing her with us. That was really beautiful, and it sounds like a grandmotehr was an amazingly special woman.

Posted by: Heather | October 25, 2005 12:49 PM

Sorry for your loss.

Posted by: Sara | October 25, 2005 02:58 PM

I'm so sorry - she sounds like an amazing woman

Posted by: birdy | October 25, 2005 04:48 PM

I'm really sorry to hear about your granny, she sounds like someone I would have liked to have known, but I love that you spread the news about the hospice service. They're a credit to themselves and the memory of the people they helped through the last days of their lives. My mother passed away in the Foyle Hospice here in Northern Ireland back in January and I was blown away by the level of care they gave to her. I'm glad you and yours received the same kind of attention and support.

Keep your chin up x

Posted by: Sarawarawoo | October 25, 2005 05:08 PM

So sorry about your loss, Leigh. Prayers to you and your family.

My father is a chaplain at a hospice (not in Georgia) and one of the best things about hospices is that the people who are there want to be there. Your grandmother sounds like a hell of a lady, and you can be sure that she was taken care of by people who were there because they wanted to be, not just because that was their job. It's a calling and I will be the first to admit that I could not do it. My dad, and the people he works with, along with most those who work in hospices, are called, and they are special people as well.

Again, special thoughts to you and your family through this time.

Posted by: Jessie | October 25, 2005 08:17 PM

Am currently listening to "I Did it my Way" in Sissie's honor.

Condolences to you and your family. "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Posted by: Kole | October 26, 2005 01:07 AM

Dear Miss Doxie,

I followed a link to your website the day before yesterday, and I have just finished reading through ALL your archives. Your stories and all of the weird and wonderful people and things going on in your life just crack me up. I've been giggling like a mad woman at my desk, having to swtich back quickly to work when I am about to burst into laughter, behaviour completely inappropriate at the current time. (I'm meant to be working a bit too). Thanks for sharing all that, and making me laugh so much.

Then today I come to the last entry, and it is exactly the same. I am very sorry that your granny has died. I know that you will miss her a lot, and that you must be hurting right now. But humour is always there just beneath the surface, and this is probably just one more of the things Sissy loved about you. I believe in an afterlife (I don't know about you) and I still sometimes pray to my maternal grandmother, who died 10 years ago. I like to think that your granny is keeping an eye on you too (except of course, when, uh, you are Dukay are, um, maybe busy....)

Posted by: Sarah | October 26, 2005 07:42 AM

Red lipstick says it all. In my broke state of affairs, I will don the red lipstick in honor of Sis. I'll post a pic to prove it tomorrow on my site. Hugs.

Posted by: divinecalm | October 26, 2005 02:18 PM

I'm really sorry about Sissie. I'm so glad there are places like that, that care. That's awesome. Sending healing vibes for you.

Posted by: Meg | October 26, 2005 05:57 PM

I'm sorry. That was a lovely tribute.

Posted by: Anna | October 27, 2005 05:11 AM

I'm so sorry Honey. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Posted by: Amanda B. | October 27, 2005 09:47 AM

Some how posting this type of thing on the web and leaving it for the world to see, can make it a little less painful. I know because I did the samething. My web blog is something I started after seeing what you did (yes you inspired me) and a few weeks a go I wrote about my grandmother who left us and how it affects me each year I run the race for the cure. I guess what I am trying to say is your not alone: http://livingintheusa.typepad.com/my_weblog/

My thoughts are with you.

Posted by: Jennifer | October 27, 2005 11:17 AM

((((hugs))))

Posted by: Mabel | October 27, 2005 02:12 PM

Hey sweetie,
Just a quick note to let you know Sister Bill must be proud of you. Your tribute to her is wonderful.
Take time for you and the family. Your cyberfamily would love to hear more stories about her, so don't forget to share with us. Your mom's relationship with her must have been amazing... let us know some details when you are able... hugs...

Posted by: Muffy | October 27, 2005 08:36 PM

thinking of you today. grace and peace be yours.

Posted by: erin | October 28, 2005 08:25 AM

Am so sorry to hear...

I shall wear my red lipstick and listen to Frank Sinatra in honour of Sissy
x

Posted by: ladymissmarquise | October 28, 2005 08:27 AM

Oh..I am so sorry to hear of Sissie's passing. She sounds like a vibrant, full of life, and perky woman. My gram was the same way up until the last few months of her life. We lost her in January, and I don't think the hole will ever heal.
Hospice staff...I can't say enough. They are truly the closest things to angels that we have here on Earth. Beforehand, the nurses would visit gram (we had Home Hospice rather than Gram in a facility), and they adored her. And her them. During her moments of lucidity, she would flirt with him, and he would flirt right back. As she slipped away, he would talk to her like he talked to anyone else. And I think she knew that.
Our hospice team sat with us after Gram passed, let us talk about whatever it was we wanted to talk about, cried with us, and told us that it was all going to be okay eventually. They stayed with us until the funeral home came to take her body away.
They still check in on us from time to time. Offering us an ear to listen, a heart to understand.
My thoughts and prayers are with your family. Perhaps it may be appropriate to send a bottle of champagne and a tube of red lipstick along with her. Don't want her to arrive unprepared for the party that all awesome Grandmothers have in heaven.

Posted by: Kellie | October 28, 2005 03:51 PM

I have just started reading your site but I hate to see anyone in pain. I am sorry for your loss.

Posted by: Bethany | October 30, 2005 06:15 PM

I'm so sorry for your loss. My grandmother was in the hospital this weekend, and I know it's a very sad and scary thing. I'm thinking of you and your family.

Posted by: Coleen | October 31, 2005 11:31 AM

I lost my classy lady this year as well, Leigh. My heart is with you and your family.

Posted by: Trance | October 31, 2005 06:11 PM

My thoughts are with you and your family. Hope you aren't having too tough of a time. I'm sure your grandmother was quite a lady. God bless her. Take care!

Posted by: Kiefer Twin | October 31, 2005 09:51 PM

My heart goes out to you. I know what losing a grandmother feels like. I have lost both of mine. It was harder with the one I was closer to. Not a day goes by that I don't have some wonderful memory of her...so she does live on. She was an amazing woman. She was born on the boat on the way over to Ellis Island from Czechoslovakia. She could bake better than any bakery. She was mother to 11 children. (Sadly, three died at birth.) She put up with her husband comig home drunk, and telling her that none of those babies were his...they were the junk man's, the mail man's, the butcher's...and the list goes on. She was especially sweet and unforgetable right near the end of her amazing life. I will never forget the day I went over there to help her get dressed, and she tucked her boobs in her pants, or how she was always getting fixed up for this new guy she was going to start dating soon (who never came), or how proud she was the day she got to hold our amazon parrot on her arm and got all the attention of all the other elderly people in the nursing home that day - she was queen for the day that day! Most of all, I will never forget how she loved - unconditionally. Grandma, you meant the world to me, and even though it's been over 20 years now, I still love and miss you greatly.

Posted by: Maggie | November 2, 2005 02:25 AM

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Jeremy

Posted by: Psuche | November 2, 2005 05:32 PM

My condolences to you, and your family. I think it is great that your parents are able to think of others in their time of sorrow, by asking you to post for Hospice Atlanta. You guys are an amazing bunch.

Posted by: Greg | November 3, 2005 12:24 AM

I have just gotten my computer from the shop and am so sorry to hear of Sissie's passing. My Grandma (the only one I have ever known) is 85 and in a nursing home. She is near family and is happy and in good health for 85.

May the Lord wrap his arms around you and your family and provide his everlasting comfort.

Posted by: Laura | November 4, 2005 08:24 AM

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