I went to a funeral today. It was for one of my favorite patients. When I met her she was in her 70s and about a week ago she passed away at age 84. She was an absolute delight! I loved seeing her name on my schedule knowing she would brighten up my day with her smile. She had a wonderful spirit. She talked really, really fast and had things to do and places to be. I was honored to have her share her life with me. Of course, I helped her with her medical issues but she never knew what she did for me.

When I met Irene she was on the go, as usual. We would go over her medications, her health issues, what activities she was involved in at the time and planned out when we would see each other again. At her funeral I found out so much more about the life that she lived. It started off with her being raised on a farm, doing chores from dawn to dusk. Then she went out on her own, got an education, earned a living, and traveled the world with her girlfriends. All while meeting adventures with curiosity and joy. She started off as  a secretary who was promoted to the finance department because she was just that smart. She eventually met her husband and they had a family. Her husband died when her daughter was 14 and her son was 18. She never married again.

Irene loved to bake. Irene baked cookies for her family, her friends and her church. She baked breads for her son, since he didn’t like store brought bread. She stopped baking when I diagnosed her with memory loss. Eventually we found out she had Alzheimer’s. Irene was still Irene for a while. She looked the same, she spoke in the same manner but she acted differently. That is the curse of a disease that effects the mind.

During this time I met her son. He would now accompany her to appointments. Irene was on all the right medications but she was no longer Irene. I loved her. Slowly her health waned and the last time I saw her she was urgently added on to my schedule for trouble speaking. I immediately admitted her to the hospital however she still passed away a few days later. A systemic blood infection had taken her life.

I went to a funeral today and I cried. I cried because I did not know this beautiful woman during the times she lived life to the fullest. I cried because she would never be able to tell me about those times again. I cried because I missed her and I wouldn’t see her smile.

I miss you Irene. Thank you for letting me be a part of your wonderful life.

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