Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Best Friends


Her decline was incremental and hard to detect, but, although it took us a while to see it, we now know that she has been sick for a long time. She hid it well. None of the family knew she wasn’t taking her blood pressure pills or the pills the doctor had prescribed for arrhythmia. To her, taking pills every day somehow meant that one was weak and unwell. She wanted to be seen as strong, healthy and aging slowly.

Once, while visiting me, I put the tablets out that I take with my breakfast. Only two were prescription meds. The others were vitamins. But to Aunt Betty, that was a lot of pills, and she told me so.
“I guess I’m healthier than you,” she said. “I don’t take any pills and just look at all those you take!” She’s three months older than I am.
I tried to explain about the vitamins, but she wasn’t buying it. I was still ingesting several pills and, to her, that was a sure sign that I was ailing.
And not as strong as she.
Not too long after her visit, I received a call from another relative telling me that Betty was in the hospital. She was having a pacemaker installed. Also, her doctor had not concealed her anger when she learned that Betty hadn’t been taking her pills and she was released from the hospital with strict orders to take her meds as prescribed.
But in a phone conversation with her a few weeks later, I asked, “Are you taking your blood pressure pills?”
“Sometimes,” was her answer.
“Betty, you know what the doctor said,” I told her. “You must take your meds the way you’re supposed to; you could have a heart attack or stroke.”
“Aw, I’m alright,” she said.
Months passed. Her health declined even further. She couldn’t eat. She lost weight. She had no interest in anything and stayed in bed most of the time. I couldn’t reach her. When I phoned, nobody answered and she never returned my calls.
Other family members began to check on her and found her a mere shadow of her former self. She was thin, unkempt and so weak she couldn’t walk without help.
She wouldn’t hear of moving in with relatives who’d take good care of her. She begged them to let her stay in her own home. And they did.
As I write this, she’s back in the hospital. She had a procedure today called Ablation. I don’t understand it fully but am told it’s to keep the heart rate normal.
Relatives tell me to pray for a miracle, but be prepared for the worst.
Outside my window, clouds scud across a star-filled sky and hover over the dark ridges. For a moment, I return to our childhood, Betty’s and mine, and see two little girls squealing with delight about everything from choosing peppermint sticks from large glass jars at the Company Store and slurping ice cream from cardboard cups with wooden spoons on a steamy July evening – to frolicking around the yard in their underwear when a sudden thunderstorm arises. I watch as they explore the mountains surrounding the coal mining town where one of them lives, pick berries and splash around in a rippling creek on a hot summer day. Together since infancy. Best friends.

A tear runs down my cheek reminding me of the pain in my heart.

The prospect of having to let go is hard to grasp.
~~~

9 comments:

Janet said...

What a heartbreaker! Peggy I will be praying for your Aunt Betty and you. God works miracles, you know.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your sorrow Peggy.

Susan said...

Such a sad story. I'm sending best wishes and prayers for Betty and you. God bless you.

Bonnie Bailey said...

♥ What a moving tribute to your best friend Peggy! Just beautiful!

Drema Ward said...

Praying for you and Betty.

Diane Rollins Cook said...

I understand what you are going through. My best friend wasn't from infancy, but I found her later in life when our boys were also best friends. I miss her so much! I pray God will give you Grace to face the coming days. ♥

Holly Markwart Swehla said...

I'll pray for your BFF Peggy Toney Horton !!!!!!!!!!!

Faye Forbus said...

Ablation is a great procedure for some heart arrythmias and my grandson had it done at 15 yrs old and is 22 now now and is in the Navy! Hope it works and she gets better soon! Prayers sent!

Peggy~ said...

Thank you all for your comments and especially for your prayers. ♥