For the purpose of inspiring even greater community invovlement, let's share our favorite terminal illness stories! I'll go first:
I remember the first time I tripped acid. It was Valentine's Day, 1995, and I was a week shy of my fifteenth birthday. I remember it because it was also the first time I ever flew on an airplane. The parentals and I were headed off for a week in Orange, California, and they left on a flight a couple hours ahead of me, so I was chauffered to the airport by my grandparents.
Now, a couple years earlier my aunt had lost a two-year long battle with a brain tumor. She went from being the most energetic, positive and downright fun person I knew to being a zombie with sunken eyes and no teeth or hair. She would frequently have seizures and her presonality was never the same after her first surgery. She was 34 when she died.
Her death is what most of us believe was the catalyst for Grandma's early-onset Alzheimer's. Grandma had always been a pillar of the community, working for years in the state government in Lincoln, Nebraska and then managing a not-for-profit shelter in Colorado Springs. She was beautiful and articulate, and her unraveling was the greatest human tragedy I've ever bore witness to personally.
But it also lent itself to some great comedy. So I'm riding in the backseat of the grandfolks' Oldsmobile on the way to the airport, and Grandma asks if I'd like something to eat before I get on the plane.
She says, "Jeff, want a sandwich before you get on the plane?"
Except my name is Kile; her oldest son, my uncle, is Jeff. I tell her, "No thanks", because I'm tripping pretty hard and am really not hungry, but she insists.
And she hands me a tinfoil and mayonaise sammich. It had lettuce and tomato, too, but instead of and sort of meat she had placed two little sheets of tin-foil in there. I took it, and put it in my pocket. Then I threw it away once they dropped me off.
Grandma was dead before she turned 60. She died in an assisted living center because it became too difficult for my grandfather to keep her from hurting herself at home. She would take the car out, she hoarded all manner of weird things and never knew who she was talking to. She did horribly inappropriate things, like flashing her breasts and/or ****** at strangers. It took her close to a decade to finally be cured in death.
I love you and miss you Grandma and Aunt Cindy.