4.13.2008

Nettie


Nettie turned 100 years old in August. I was really hoping Evan would be born on her birthday. I planned to take a photo of them together, what contrast that would be! He is seven months old and almost every month I have gone to visit her, but I have still not brought him. This month he was sick, prior months he was sleeping at the time I planned to see her.
Nettie lives with her daughter, Fern, who does most of the talking at our visits. I love them both. Nettie loves to crochet, she cannot do it as well as she used to and that disappoints her. She misses being able to read and quilt, passions of hers she is no longer able to do. When I began to visit her several months ago she did not look so different month to month. She always has a smile and bright eyes with vibrant life peeking out of her sunken face. She is so happy and loves my visits. She is looking very different now as the months go by, as if years pass in the short space of 30-odd days.
That first visit she showed me a little spot of skin cancer behind her ear. She said there is nothing the doctors can do about it. They told her that the cancer would not be the thing that would cause her to die. Treatment would not be possible for a woman of her age. Each month it is spreading and bleeding; leaving blackish scabs on the side of her face. It twists my stomach that I am sitting in front of someone who has cancer, that I can see it spreading, and that I can do little about it. And that someday (probably not far from now) she will pass on and her frail body will be all done with this mortal life. But I cannot do anything about it. I can't make her younger, give her hands the ability to sew again nor provide strength in her eyes to read again.

I love my visits with Nettie. I always drive away wondering if she will be there next month. I like to bring her cupcakes with sprinkles like it is her birthday every month. Because when you are 100 every day is a big deal.
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