Monday, November 21, 2016

Guardian Angel showing at the Evansville Museum in Indiana

Guardian Angel of the Good Death
Judy Takács

If you’re lucky enough to see you parents into old age, you know its coming.
For me it began August 2012, with a cancer diagnosis for my mom.

Having just attended the funeral of our good friend who died from stomach cancer the week before, I knew how this story would end; with a little gray person gasping their last breath as they left this world.

I also knew there could be a lot of life crammed into the between-time. I just didn’t know how long that between-time would be.

And I knew she had to outlive my dad, who was 9 years her senior at 88 and very much counted on her to love and help him in his every waking moment.
My mom knew this too, but neither of us said it out loud.

Soon after August 2012, I came to the realization that not only would I have to make sure my parents lived well. I also had to make sure they died well.

I was not in denial about the inevitable, but, like Scarlet, just preferred to “think about it tomorrow”. Besides, we were very busy with many doctors visits, surgeries, hospital stays, picture taking and memory making in the between-time.

“Tomorrow,” however, came in December 2015 and then again in June 2016, when my parents passed away within 6 months of each other; my dad first…the natural order of things.

The sequence of events, twists, turns, plans, unknowns, changes, red alerts, whens, hows and ultimate absolute clarity of what was to be…was dizzying and remarkable. The Serenity Prayer was my mantra for a time.

I was fortunate, honored and determined to be present for each parent, before, during and after their bodies shut down.

In fighting…and then not fighting the inevitable…

In embracing comfort, but shunning heroics…

In vigilantly preparing for and guarding the sanctity of a peaceful ending, I felt every bit the Guardian Angel of the Good Death as each passed from this world with my sister and I “in loving attendance” as the obituaries for my mom and dad both read.

It was absolute closure, the feeling of a pulse and then not feeling it, the belabored breathing with the steady metronome click… and then its absence. 

And then, the eggshell time immediately afterwards when ostensibly nothing has changed…except for everything.

And since it was impossible for me to write these words just a few short months ago, I painted it.

The painting was originally called Guardian of the Passage…attempting to politely skirt using the word “death.” But, just recently, I called it what it was and renamed it, Guardian Angel of the Good Death and entered her into the 58th Annual Mid-States Competition. 

And, now I’m happy to announce that she was accepted and awarded a Merit Prize and will hang at the Evansville Museum of Art, Science and History in Evansville, Indiana from December 11th through March 5th 2017.

Evansville Museum of Art, History and Science
411 SE Riverside Drive
Evansville, IN

I waited to post this until just before Thanksgiving because this will be our first without my parents…in fact my dad was rushed to the hospital two days before Thanksgiving 2015, and passed away a week after.  If you’re lucky enough to be sharing your holiday with one or both of your parents, give them an extra hug, a dose of patience and try to find common ground with some of the arguments that may come up at the dinner table…that’s really what we should all be doing as a country, and the very best place to begin is right at home.  Love to you all!