Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Ramona Dillow Nute, 1914-2011, Remembrance
The mortal life of our mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother came to an end yesterday afternoon but not without a gathering of the clan for company. She was almost 97 years old and, at her insistence, remained in her own home until her last days. She was still playing bridge with her buddies every week, watching CNN, and disdaining the Meals on Wheels brought to the house. She would have been driving the car in her garage were it not for the watchfulness of the family. Indeed, in her 90's she managed to sneak over to the DMV and convince the lady to re-issue her driver's license.
She was descended from Scotch-Irish Virginian frontiersmen and women, French Huguenots, that rash of Germans who settled Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky, Revolutionary War fighters, a teenage associate of George Washington, a Crockett from the Davy Crockett family, and civil war soldiers who fought at Bull Run and marched with Sherman through Georgia.
In her father's footsteps, she taught for 39 years beginning in one room school houses in Appalachian Kentucky. She traveled the US, Europe, and Middle East, starting with hitchhiking with her girl buddies in the 1930's.
She had four children, six grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.
In the last week of her life, she fell in her home and was not found for at least several hours. Although without serious injury, as often happens with the elderly, the trauma set off a chain of irreversible physical events. The family was called to gather as she was moved into Hospice of Charleston, and we kept vigil in her final hours which ran into three days. Two of her nurse grandgirls provided the care usually given by strangers. They turned her, bathed her, and painted her fingernails and toenails. A recording by her rock singer great granddaughter was played for her. We all talked to her even as she became less and less conscious. The doctor advised us to keep down the level of conversation as she could likely still hear us and didn't want to leave the party.
Finally, as it came time for me to return home, I told her I was leaving and it was time for her to leave. She died an hour and a half later.