Tag Archives: death

We Have Only Today

I was watching TV last week and came across an episode of 8 Simple Rules. I never watched it when it was on the first time. I soon realized what was happening. The wife played by Katey Sagal was deciding she couldn’t sleep in her bed because it was the first night after the funeral of her husband, played by John Ritter. Since that was the only episode I have seen, I realized the series was using the death of Ritter as part of the script. I remember how quickly he had died. On the series, they took the attitude that life goes on.

Last week a member of the choir sang two solos during church. He has been through some very rough spots in his life but as he sang, it was obvious that he was in a very good place. Things were coming together for him. One of the songs he sang was Carolyn Arends song “New Year’s Day.”

I buy a lot of diaries 
Fill them full of good intentions 
Each and every New Year’s Eve 
I make myself a list 
All the things I’m gonna change 
Until January 2nd 
So this time I’m making one promise 

This will be my resolution 
Every day is New Year’s Day 
This will be my resolution 
Every day is New Year’s Day 

I believe it’s possible 
I believe in new beginnings 
‘Cause I believe in Christmas Day 
And Easter morning too 
And I’m convinced it’s doable 
‘Cause I believe in second chances 
Just the way that I believe in you 

This will be my resolution 
Every day is New Year’s Day 
This could start a revolution 
Every day is… 

One more chance to start all over 
One more chance to change and grow 
One more chance to grab a hold of grace 
And never let it go 

He’s the type of guy who can really make others feel good. We believed him when he sang of changing and growing and grabbing grace. He made  us all feel good. He made us believe that every day we should resolve that this is our best day. That was Sunday.

Yesterday morning he posted on FB for his friends to pray for his daughter. She had stopped breathing and was rushed to intensive care in Tennessee where he had spent days at Christmas. She was on a ventilator. He updated last night that neurological signs were not good. An hour ago he posted that his daughter was with her mom among the angels in heaven.

The 8 Simple Rules script had the teenage children talking about the last things they said to their father. They were deep in grief for suddenly losing him.

I’m sure my friend is in deep mourning for the loss of his daughter. As far as I know she never regained consciousness. I wonder if he remembers his last conversation with her.

Our lives can be as normal as ever and then suddenly without warning everything can come to a screeching halt. Both the show and my friend’s loss brought that home to me. We are not able to always have that last moment to say good bye.

My father and I were not on the best of terms. He was in the hospital and I should have gone to see him even if it would have been out of a sense of filial duty. However, I really didn’t feel like it. I remember exactly where I was when I decided I would wait until the next day. After all, the doctor had said he was doing OK.

About six hours later we got the call from the hospital that he was dead. I did not take the time to say good bye. I can’t remember my last conversation with him. Those times during my senior year in college were few and far between.

I had that one day. Only one day. To tell my father I really did love him…to ask him if he really did love me. I let that opportunity slide by.

I talk with my son a couple times a month and email him a few more. If you have adult male sons you know this is very normal. He is living his own life. But one thing I have realized that we do more often is end up writing or speaking “I love you.” He often initiates it. He is able to do something I had great difficulty in doing. He is teaching me the importance of letting him know and his letting me know that we love each other. It is then that I realize we have only today. If I die suddenly he will remember that the last time we communicated he ended the conversation with love. Namaste. Attic Annie


Filed under Casual conversation, family, general topics, God, Uncategorized

Jesus loves me. Dying in peace

Jesus loves me, this I know” I can still see myself sitting in that front row primary Sunday School classroom with Mrs. Z standing in front of me leading all of us in song. Singing made me happy. Even though the older I got, the more I felt like nobody loved me, I was safe in the knowledge that at least Jesus did. Those were the very early days when I still could feel happy.


Sixty years have passed since that memory. My relationship with Jesus has changed. I no longer really address my prayers to him. I pray directly to a God who has changed in my mind as well. The bearded white male God of my childhood has been replaced by something the likes of which is really impossible to describe. Instead of male, God is both Mother and Father. But there is no body that I picture. Instead God is a feeling, a feeling of love and comfort that surrounds me and gives me peace. It took me years to really understand what was meant when we sang “God is love“. That was one of the first concepts about God that I was taught but one of the most difficult to understand.

I subscribe to a daily inspiration email. My thoughts about Jesus were stimulated by this story. I have read this story several times before. You probably have too. I try to talk to God the way many people talk to Jesus.Perhaps it is easier for them to picture an Anglo-Saxon fair haired man listening to them. Whatever, if I can transition as peacefully as the man in this story did, I will be blessed.  I wish to be in my own bed, wrapped in the arms of love.

Namaste. Attic Annie


A man’s daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.

“I guess you were expecting me,” he said.

“No, who are you?” said the father. The minister told him his name and then remarked, “I saw the empty chair, and I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”

Puzzled, the minister shut the door. “I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head.

“I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day four years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Johnny, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest. Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I will be with you always.’ Then just speak to him in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’ So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”

The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon. “Did he die in peace?” he asked. “Yes, when I left the house about two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead.

But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?”

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, “I wish we could all go like that.”


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Filed under Casual conversation, childhood, diary, general topics, God, life, musings, relationships, transition

Could Oscar be a Spirit Guide?

Oscar, the Hospice Cat

This may not be new news to some of you, but I’d not heard of it before. There is a cat called Oscar in Providence, RI that has accurately predicted the death of over fifty terminally ill patients in the Steere House, a nursing home that treats those with severe dementia.

There’s a brand new book out about him this week by Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician, called Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat.

Oscar, being a typical cat,  is very much of a loner, avoiding all living people. However, when death is imminent, he will hop up on the beds of the dying persons, usually within the last two hours, and cuddle with them until the patients die.

No one knows exactly how Oscar knows, but he is accurate enough that when the nurses see him in bed with a patient, they usually call the family. There is one case when the doctor called imminent death but Oscar would not stay put when he was put in the patient’s bed. He waited ten hours before he hopped up in the bed and stayed.

Some seem to think that Oscar is that way because they believe that he can smell odors that the body may be releasing as death approaches. These are odors that the human nose can’t detect. This is just a theory because no one has yet studied the dying this closely. It is a supposition that as humans die, certain chemical reactions are taking place.

Another theory is that the patient who is dying is not moving. Oscar detects this lack of movement.

Neither theory has been scientifically tested. How would one set up a double blind study anyway?

There has been enough interest in Oscar to make him the subject of an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. That’s a rare honor for any non-human being. It really is a lovely article, if you have a few minutes, take the time to read it.

These are my thoughts on the matter of Oscar.

I believe that Oscar has a special mission. I believe more animals, if we would only pay attention to them, have special missions here on earth. In our rush to be “modern” and “scientific” and “superior to all other beings”, we have lost special connections to our animal friends on this planet.

In an action of synchronicity, somebody just happened to find the kitten Oscar in an animal shelter in 2005 and take him to the animal friendly hospice. However, Oscar was in no mood to befriend the living. His mission was to be with the dying, and however he knows it, he does know.

I believe, that Oscar is a spirit guide. Call this woo woo if  you wish. I probably would have myself several years ago. But, hey, I’m a senior citizen now and I can believe what I want. It’s in the rule book. I believe the mission of Oscar is to be there to aid these humans who are unable to communicate. He is there to assure them that all is well and their journey to the next plane of existence is not one to be feared. These are people who lost their ability to communicate with humans months or even years earlier. But I believe that Oscar has a level of communication with the dying that we can only guess at. In spite of what is said, I believe animals show compassion to each other and to the humans who are sensitive enough to believe that. I believe animals mourn. There is much evidence to show that when animals lose their friends and their mates they suffer the loss.

Much observation has been made recently of interspecies interaction where those who are believed to be natural enemies somehow bond with each other. How long will it be before humans will admit their lack of superiority and realize every living being is a part of the whole undivided oneness of our planet, our galaxy, our universe?

There’s an important quote in the NEJM article that is, in my humble opinion, more accurate than any blind double-sided study that the scientific world could concoct. Oscar has taken up position in the bed of Mrs. K.

Her grandchild asks, “What is the cat doing here?” The mother, fighting back tears, tells him, “He is here to help Grandma get to heaven.” Thirty minutes later, Mrs. K. takes her last earthly breath. With this, Oscar sits up, looks around, then departs the room so quietly that the grieving family barely notices. His job of guiding the spirit of Mrs. K. to wherever it needed to go is done. He can rest again and avoid the living until his next job  becomes apparent. He is well taken care of and is free to roam the entire floor. At fifty deaths in five years, that averages out to less than one a month. His job is to wait until he is needed, but when he is needed, little will stop him from doing his job. Spirit guides are like that. I think. Namaste. Attic Annie

Update: I had lunch yesterday with a hospice nurse who has worked in this area of nursing for 38 years. She has personally known of five cats who have done the death vigil just like Oscar. Her story was very interesting. It’s kind of comforting thinking these animals are spirit guides so those who are served are aided in their transition. I think this is a fascinating topic to explore. What do you think? AA



Filed under Casual conversation, diary, family, general topics, life, musings, relationships, transition