R.I.P., Joan Olive Klima

My grandmother died a month ago in a hospice room at the Gutterberg, Iowa, nursing home where she’d been living for two years. When I heard she had stopped drinking or eating, I didn’t expect I would be there for the end. But with some light encouragement, I found myself with my mother, grandfather and sister talking, looking at pictures and and having cocktails around a hospital bed for her final hours. She went gently and, it seemed to me, with the same instinct for what’s sensible and proper that she always had before her slow mental and physical decline over the last seven years.

She died early on a Saturday morning. I wrote her obituary in the customary style before heading downtown with Gramps to finalize the arrangements (cremation, no service) and share some prime rib at a restaurant overlooking the Mississippi River.

Her good life ended with a good death. Among the many things I’m glad about, I’m happy it didn’t come too soon for Grandma to meet Johanna, whose middle name, Audrey, belonged to her mother, my great-grandmother.


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