Jabberwocky: Frances Whitney's Weblog

[Frances] 1952-2006

Weblog archives




17 years ago: Weep, Weep, Weep

18 years ago: Sometimes It Pays to Be a Famous Name

19 years ago: I went to Lowe's tonight and bought 80 feet of sprinkler...

20 years ago: SOMEBODY in my house came home from a stroll in the...

Obituary: Here is the link to Mom's obituary, printed in the Bakersfield Californian on Tuesday. The death date is wrong, it was actually May 5, 2006

[Comments] (3) : From an email sent by Alyson today to the Molly Bluestocking list:

I have sad news. Frances passed away peacefully today at around 1:30pm. She has had a rough week, beginning on Friday, April the 28th, when her body began rejecting the TPN. She was removed from that on Sunday, and Hospice came on Tuesday to begin her morphine medications. Her body became more restful after that, but her mind refused to slow down. She had been incredibly alert and lucid all through the week, and last night, at around 12:00 am, she said she could no longer tolerate the drawn out nature of her dying.

We have been writing down many of our conversations, and this is what she said to my mother, Anne: "Nobody has come for me. I have discovered, this is a pretty big blow for me. I have always been able to accomplish what I need to by myself. Maybe if you prayed, I could be strong enough." My mother responded that she's heard a person has to ask, in order to finally die. At that time, Frances asked that we invite the bishop to see her. He arrived around 12:30, and sat with us as we sang hymns to Frances.

We first sang "Redeemer of Israel." Bishop Davis asked, "Do you want another song?" Frances said yes. Bishop asked "Do you want us to pick?" She said, "Well, I was just thinking. . ." She paused, and Bishop said, "That's a dangerous thing to do." There was another pause. Frances said, "If we sing another song, we'll be out of ammo. . . I have to do two more." We sang "How Firm a Foundation," Leonard requested "Master, the Tempest is Raging," "Abide with me 'tis eventide," and "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy" (which was sung at Franny's dh's funeral and at her father's funeral).

After all that singing, we settled Frances into bed, and Bishop Davis gave her a blessing. He promised her that the veil would become thin, and she would see all the people there ready to receive her. She slept all night and all morning, and passed away sometime in between 1:15 and 1:30 when we were out of the room.

She loved her Molly friends. Her room is decorated with cards and flowers from many of you, and she has been touched with the thoughtful things that you have sent her and her family.

Here is another conversation from May 4th.

Anne (my mother)"Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo."
Frances: "Better not go out."
A: "Why?"
F: "Its wild out there. Everybody is crazy. If you have to go out on a desperate mission to save France, be prepared."
A, teasing: "Maybe you'll die on Cinco de Mayo. Make a lot of commotion."
F: Yes.
A: "But if you wait, you could die on Mother's Day."
F: "That would be a kick in the pants."

I'm glad Frances had a good week with us, and she was Franny to the end. She didn't miss a beat.

The End is Just the Beginning: Frances passed away peacefully in her sleep this afternoon.

We spent a wonderful night with her and the bishop, sitting in the living room, singing her favorite hymns and talking. We put her to bed around 3:30 am, and said goodbye. In the morning, she wouldn't wake up. Her breathing became more congested and irregular and finally stopped around 1:30 pm.

Services will be held in Bakersfield on Wednesday, May 10th - details to follow.

: Anne is writing down all the conversations we have with Mom, and some of them are pretty funny. Here is my favorite:

Mom (about her horse, Sprite): You were always a good horse.
Anne: Thank you.
Mom: Even if you did sit down once.

The day began with a clean house. Then we began the sorting process. We went through Mom's cedar chest, the books, the crystal, vases and silverware and the paintings. The house is a mess, and I won't pretend it's an orderly mess, but everything has stickies on it now! This made Mom feel better because she is worried about people not getting things. There are heirloom items for all of the nieces, but boys are harder to "shop" for. The girls will be getting not only a piece of their Aunt Frances, but a piece of Grandma Lorna or Della. Mom was very helpful in identifying the origin of the items in her cedar chest. We made sure to write where everything came from, because no one else will ever figure it out.

Mom's cousin Steven Call drove up and spent several hours with us. Mom enjoyed seeing him again. We also had visits from Hillary and Brock, and Uncle Garry also came by and stayed for a while.

We have an appointment tomorrow with the mortuary in Bakersfield. The booklet the hospice nurse gave us places her breathing patterns (occasionally stopped for 10-15 seconds at a time) under "one to two days to hours prior to death". I think I noticed this earlier, but Hillary pointed it out today.

[Comments] (3) 'Tis but a scratch: I know my mom is still herself because when we were signing her up for hospice and someone set her water glass down on the table she said, "That needs a coaster under it."

[Comments] (3) The Beginning of the End: From Frances' sister, Anne:

I just wanted to keep you posted on what's going on with my sister Frances. She has asked Leonard, Jonathan, Robert and me to join her in California this weekend for an initial meeting with hospice to "plan her last phase." I am not sure what all this means, but the bottom line is that she cannot start recievng hospice service until she discontinues use of the pump that delivers nutrition via IV 24/7. I am not sure how much nutrition she actually absorbs by eating normally, after what come back up, and what goes straight through. Whatever the case, the TPN has kept her alive for several years. She is getting weaker and weaker, and has a hard time conversing on the phone for any amount of time because she says she is running out of air. She has wrung every ounce of life out of her poor old body, and has done it valiantly. She has been in much discomfort and pain, and tolerated many inconveniences to do so, but she did it willingly in order to be with her kids and enjoy the home and the very full life she has built for herself. Now, there just isn't enough of living that she is still able to do, and I think she is finally ready to say "It is enough." (This comes years after the doctors would have predicted.)

I am very honored that she wants to share the the beginning of her new journey with us, and that our little band is ready and willing to be at her side. I am grateful for the support of our partners that allows us to do it.. I am proud of the five of us, and that we are still functioning as a family so long after our parents are gone. Frances is our leader, and the respository where our family history resides. I wish we could have her with her with us always. However, I know that at some point there just won't be enough of Frances left to recognize, and none of us, especially Frances, wants to extend her existence beyond that point. My biggest fear is that after all she has and tolerated and suffered to remain here with us, that she will have to suffer more to depart. I pray that this will not be the case. Please join me in the prayer that her passage into the next life will be well-timed, comfortable, and joyous. Once that happens, she will be alive, for the most part, in our shared memories of her. Let's keep this amazing woman in our lives always.

----- We had our meeting with hospice this afternoon and Mom wants to stay on the TPN a few more days before beginning hospice. However, the TPN is causing adema and she is only able to stay on it for an hour at a time. Once hospice care begins and the TPN is discontinued, she will likely live less than a week. Right now, she is in the living room sitting with us, not asleep I think, but in her own thoughts, preparing for the new journey ahead of her. --Susie

[Comments] (2) A breath of fresh air: Mom is now on oxygen to help her breathe better, and has been making regular visits to the chiropractor to help her back pain (which is from falling... I think).

[Comments] (5) Birthday!: Today was Mom's 54th birthday. The ladies from the ward had a lovely party for her. Mom came out and lay on the couch while they set up some salads and a cake. Then everyone sang to her and chatted for about an hour. I think there were at least 12 people who came. They brought presence, instead of presents, which was nice. Each of her friends came and chatted with her for a bit, sharing cards they had brought. Mom ate some fruit, some potato salad and two bites of cake! She has enjoyed reading all of the cards, including several that came in the mail today.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the party or sent a card. Mom had a very good day today. - Susie

[Comments] (6) Quotable: "I'm the happiest miserable person there is."

[Comments] (4) Update: Mom said her number one goal for this weekend was to get online & post a wishlist for her birthday, but it doesn't look like that will happen. So since people are worried I will post an update. She isn't doing too well. Sorry for the bad news.

[Comments] (5) Random Thought: When we are supposed to be "all arrayed in spotless white/we will dwell in truth and light", what are Camilla and Alyssa going to do? What am I going to do? Why can't I dwell in truth and light in jeans and a black sweatshirt?

[Comments] (3) Weep, Weep, Weep: We had to take Gretel to the SPCA--Just couildn't find anyone who could recognize what a wonderful dog she is underneath all the playfulness. Also she looks big and dangerous (teeth!) even though she still thinks she should be able to fit through the kitty door.

I feel just terrible about this, but I am just not able to give her the care she needs, hardly being able to get out of bed and all. She seemed happy to lie at the side of my bed, a la Elizabeth Barret Browning's dog --was his name Flash?--but got restless after many days of that.

Anyway, I am a mournful, mournful person.

[Comments] (2) : It's hard to know what to say to everyone who wants an update. Mom has been able to get out of bed a bit, but is very shaky. She has been able to read, and it's nice to see her having something to enjoy. Leonard's visit seems to have cheered her. He is staying nearly a week. Being in bed all day can be lonely and she has enjoyed having Leonard sitting next to her working on his book.

Visits and phone calls are always welcome, even though she can't always get to the phone quickly enough. We are also still looking for a new home for Gretel.


[Comments] (5) Another update: Hillary said I should update my mom's weblog saying she is back & feeling a bit better. I said I had, but I guess three weeks ago isn't good enough.

The good news is Leonard is coming next week and bring mom a laptop so hopefully she'll be able to do her own updating then.

[Comments] (3) For all those who said "anything I can do...": Mom seems to be a bit lonely, having no one to talk to but some girl who is assez involved in her 30 pages of research papers due this week, so all calls and visitors are much appreciated!

[Comments] (4) Home!: Mommy is home! She is feeling better, it would seem.

[Comments] (4) update 2: The good news is Mom doesn't have pnuemonia (sp?); the bad news is they aren't sure what is making her cough & her heart rate go so fast. But I can tell she is feeling better because she gripped about being in the hospital and starting reading the Nora Roberts novel I brought to her.

[Comments] (4) Update: Mom is in the hospital but wished to emphasize that you ARE NOT TO GET EXCITED!


[Comments] (4) Do You Wonder Where I Am?: I am sick.

[Comments] (4) What Did You Get... uh... Give?: *I* got a Harry Potter tatoo of a dragon. I'm thinking of putting it on my cheek. I don't know if for work or for church would be the most shocking. I'm afraid they are getting immune to me at church.

[Comments] (1) Koff.: Koff. koff. koffidy koff.

Bye-Bye: Rachel's car is g-o-n-e. I'm kind of sad about it. Tuxedo Tom will have to find a new place to hide.

[Comments] (3) Flu Flew: I think I'm getting a relapse of that flu. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

[Comments] (8) You Go, Denmark!: I white-knuckled it through work today and then went to Young's. They had a huge selection of Danish cheeses--I never noticed before. I got a Danish brie in a little wooden cheese box, some "mellow bleu" and one called Flora Danica. Like the china, ha ha. It appears to be a bleu with herbs in it. I got some crackers to eat it with, but I'm thinking of stuffing celery stalks with the "Mellow Bleu".

Young's was my choice of store because they had whole chickens advertized for $.49 a pound, but they were out and not expecting any more in at that price. So I didn't get chickens. I didn't see their flyer in the mail last Tuesday, so I didn't know about the sale until I saw it on the marquee on Sunday.

[Comments] (1) Hack. Hack. Hack.: Most of the weekend I spent grading a weeks worth of papers from two classes-- about a five inch stack. Whew. In between coughs. I wish, I wish I could get rid of this coff. Coff Coff.

At church they released Bishop Nations and made Brother Davis the new bishop. Counselors Jon Olson and Leonard Welsh. So I have a little bit of news for the newsletter this time, I guess.