So much has happened since the day I brought Luna home in June of 2008. But had to skip ahead and write about our friend Lorraine while it was still fresh in my mind.
Luna has such a great demeanor and caring soul, that I decided last year to get her certified as a "Pet Partner". The class we took was "Canine Good Citizen" and was offered at Seattle Humane Society where I volunteer in the kennels once a week. This certification allows us to visit Assisted Living Homes and Grade Schools (among other places). Our first assignment was to visit the "Horizon House" in Seattle once a week. Horizon House is a beautiful assisted and independent living home. All I had to say to Luna on the mornings we would leave to drive across the bridge was "were going working" And she knew she was soon to see her favorite seniors.
We love everyone there and you can't imagine the joy that a visit from a dog brings these residents. She always knows that Gretchen saves a piece of bacon wrapped in a napkin from breakfast. And for a few little tricks, she gets bacon! While Eleanor feeds her little treats from her hand and laughs at Luna's eagerness and speed from trick to trick to get treated. There is Carolyn, who can't speak anymore and Luna just lays across her feet for our entire visit while Carolyn reaches down and rubs her soft, curly Border Collie fur. But Lorraine, well she was our favorite. She was so soft spoken and when she did speak it was with eloquence and kindness. You couldn't help but immediately love her. I did and so did Luna.
I brought her books to read. And if her Parkinson's disease was at bay, she could hold a book and read. I introduced her to "Jon Katz" An author who writes about his Border Collies and other animals on Bedlam Farms in NY.
Our visits were limited to each resident to about 5 to 10 minutes to ensure we saw as many people as we could see while there. To me that wasn't enough time, and if I wasn't working or had a flight I would stay longer. One day I asked Lorraine if Luna and I could come back on an "off" day just for a visit with her. Her response was "Oh I'd like that very much". So I packed up my laptop (to show her pictures of my life) and she had about 7 photo albums waiting for us to look at when we arrived. Lorraine was a nurse. She was born to a Norwegian mother and Swedish father on May 18th 1918 here in Seattle. She was an only child. She had many dogs during her childhood, and her parents were avid outdoor enthusiasts. She studied for a bit in Connecticut where she met Benjamin Sabin Troop. They were eventually married and lived in Seattle. Benjamin studied Forestry (I think he had his Masters) but ended up with a career at Boeing. They did not have children. I loved taking a glimpse into their life together. The pictures were beautiful. They loved the outdoors, the forest, the water, they loved to garden and entertain.
I asked her about Benjamin and when he passed away. They sold their house on Queen Anne in Seattle in 1998 and moved into the Independent Living floors of the Horizon House. Ben passed in 2004 and Lorraine eventually had to move down to the assisted living floors only because of her Parkinson's. Other than that she was the prettiest, healthiest, sharpest 92 year old woman I'd ever met! Amazing......
I was so grateful that we shared that day and got a peek into each others lives because about 2 weeks later, she took a "turn" and was just too tired to fight.
Last week Luna and I went down to visit after hearing of her decline. I wasn't sure what to expect when I arrived. Lorraine was always dressed and in her chair. When we arrived she was in her bed and her body was convulsing from that dang Parkinson's. She was responsive and knew that we were there. I told her that if I didn't have a flight we would be there everyday until she left us. She smiled and said ever so softly "oh that would be nice". And we were. The next day, she barely opened her eyes. She couldn't swallow anymore but was so hungry and thirsty. I feed her little bits of ice and ice cream. When she started to choke, I put my hand on her back. She said "Your hand feels good, so cool" So I asked if I could massage her. She smiled and said "I'd like that very much" So I did her back, her arms, her fingers her hands her legs and feet. I rubbed her Oil of Olay cream onto her face. As I rubbed lotion into her hands and fingers I told her that these hands were healers. They worked very well for her for 92 years. And I told her that they were beautiful. They were!! Hardly a wrinkle on them. The same went for the rest of her body. I told her that she had good genes and with her eyes still closed, she smiled. Every once and awhile Luna would come to the side of the bed and either jump up and curl at the foot, or lick her hand. Also bringing a smile to her face.
I asked her if she was ready for what was to come. Her response was "this isn't how I imagined it" I asked her what she was feeling and she answered "weary, so so weary" So everyday last week Luna and I went to visit Lorraine. Everyday she would slip a little further away. Not even able to take the ice or ice cream (Luna ate it) or to even open her eyes. I continued to massage her and would tell her just to relax and let go. I would rub the furrows between her eyes and tell her to let it go. And her eyes would relax and the furrows would be gone.
One day I looked on the end table and saw one of the books I had brought her. It was Jon Katz's book "A Good Dog". I picked it up and saw that she was about at chapter 9. "Perfect I thought" I'll finish reading this to her. So I picked up the book and began to read. This time she was first to read a book and I would read it after her. So I'm finishing a book aloud that I haven't even started myself. I don't want to give away the ending of the book because I'd like everyone to become a Jon Katz fan themselves and read it. But I will say, the tears were flowing. One of the nurses walked into the room and said "Oh Stephanie, it's OK" And I said "it's not Lorraine! It's this damn book!" And we laughed. With everything I had in me, I finished the book for Lorraine. Everyday when we would leave, I would kiss her cheek and tell her that Luna and I loved her. I would also say that God willing I would see her tomorrow. Well Friday November 19th was the last time we saw Lorraine. On Saturday November 20th Lorraine passed away. I got an email from the activity coordinator at the Horizon House. She knew that I didn't want Lorraine to be alone when she took her last breath. She told me that she was "surrounded by
friends" Maybe that was why I had this special affinity for Lorraine. I too didn't have kids and now I'm worried that I could die alone. I don't loose sleep over this. I'm only 51, but it has crossed my mind.
God bless you Lorraine and rest in peace. You are now reunited with Benjamin, your best friends Molly & Carolyn, your mother and father and numerous animals and friends. Even that big white dog that someone stole when you were a little girl on Vashon Island!! I love you and feel blessed to have known you. Albeit brief, blessed just the same.
Stephanie & Luna