It is not uncommon for someone who is dying to muster their energy to attend some special event. In Arlene’s case it was the trip to Ireland. Almost miraculously the trip went off without a hitch, but at the end of the trip she was barely able to function. She slept most of the flight back to the states ,and had to be literally carried to the limo at Kennedy Airport. The past eight days she had been either in bed or on the chaise lounge. Her breathing had become labored ,and she was required both day and night to have oxygen.
One family McNally tradition was the trimming of the tree at the beginning of December with the grandchildren. The date was set back due to their vacation ,,but Arlene wished to carry on one of her favorite days. The children arrived on Saturday the15th of December, and the most enthusiastic of the grandchildren was five year old Timmy. Racing into the bedroom he gazed at the tree turned, and ran to his grandmother who was sitting on her chaise lounge. After hugging her Timothy looked perplexed. “Why do you have on pajamas Nana?”Arlene smiled and said”I have been sick Timmy so I keep them on all day.”This information seemed to agree with Timmy’s past experience. “When I am sick I stay in my pajamas, and mommy lets me stay on the sofa and watch TV. Sometimes I throw up.” Arlene loved how literal children are at this age and smiled at Timmy. He continued to engage her in conversation.: “What’s that up your nose?”, referring to her source of oxygen. “This helps Nan breathe.” That input did not register with Timmy ,and he could not fathom why something up your nose helps. “Sometimes I stick my finger up my nose to get a bugger, but it doesn’t help me breathe.” Arlene had to cover her mouth in order to repress the urge to laugh. The rest of the children had after kissing Arlene begun to trim the tree ,but Timmy was more interested in continuing his chat. Sitting beside her he asked” When will you get better Nana”?These were the difficult questions to answer for a five year old, and Arlene struggled with her response.”I am not sure Timmy.” With that Timmy joined his siblings and on more than one occasion almost knocked the tree over in his attempts to –place ornaments high up on the tree.
After an hour Michael came into the bedroom bearing brownies,cookies and hot chocolates. Most of the children sat during their snack break near the tree ,but Timmy apparently had some unfinished business with Nana.Chewing on a brownie He asked’When I get sick I always get better.Can we give you soup to make you better. ?” Arlene patted his head ,and did not wish to lie to him because at some future date she would be physically gone.”Timmy Nana may have to go away to get better.” Timmy had never gone away when he was sick so he needed more details.”Where will you go?”Arlene thought to herself this is not easy to explain to a five year old.” I may have to go to a place like Disney World.?” Timmy’s face beamed” Can I come with you?” No it is only for grown ups.” Will Mickey Mouse be there?”” No but there will be angels.” Timmy thought that was cool ,turned and pointed to the top of the Christmas tree, “Like the one on top?” “Yes Timmy like that one.” “Can I come and see you there?”” no but whenever you want to talk to Nana I will ask Grandpa to give you a big picture of me.You can put it in your room and talk to me whenever you want. “That offer seemed to satisfy Timmy and knowing that Nana was in good hands with the angels he was sure that she would get better.
After the children left Aqrlene recounted the morning interaction with Michael.Her appetite had completely vanished but she was constantly thirsty. She thought it was time to discuss getting Michael some help with her care. Vic DeFino had suggested that they employ Hospice but Michael up to now resisted that idea.Arlene believed that his refusal for help hinged on the finality of her situation. She realized that having a Hospice nurse in the home would signal that the end was near. She was gentle but firm in her decision ,and Michael realized that it would be beneficial for both of them.