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  • Gary Fish /yes men do cry

Yes Men Do Cry pages 10-11

Friday the thirteenth, October—what a day! Lois had a “rally.” That day was the most incredible thing I have ever experienced. If it hadn’t been for the book, Final Gifts, and Cheryl, this again would have been missed. This was the day Lois was alert for approximately fifteen hours. She told her friends she was leaving and that it was okay, and later that night and early Saturday morning, she appeared to be somewhere else. At first, it seemed as though she was just babbling, but as I strained to hear what she was saying, I realized she was dictating her own eulogy.


Friday, October 13, 2000

Bob read the eulogy.

“Let’s pretend we’re on a Disneyland ride. We’re going to enjoy it as much as we can; those who want to get off can, we just don’t know when it’s going to end.” This is Lois on August the first, when she and Gary first heard she had stomach cancer. A strong lady with a plan of action, she took us all on a fantastic ride.

Everyone who knows Lois is aware of her strengths and enthusiasm. These were front and center in what she told and showed us over the last two and a half months. Her response to life’s totally unexpected, and premature end was a lesson. She was completely concerned with the needs of her daughter, Dallas, and son, Nathan, getting on with tying off the details of her life and making certain that her hubby, Gary, knew how to do the laundry and write a check. Gary was her devoted servant throughout and took careful notes.

Lois wanted to write her own eulogy but found it a difficult task in the early weeks. We thought we would have to write it ourselves, but Lois was just biding her time. On Friday the thirteenth of October, Lois had a very special day, calling her children and many of her friends to her side. She spoke all day and amazed everyone with her endurance, humor, and lucidity. Previous to this, Lois had been sleeping about twenty-three hours each day. When the others took a dinner break in the evening, Gary stayed by her side and took these notes as Lois dictated, seemingly aware of his presence. It may be a bit disjointed, but this is her own eulogy:

“I’d like to know why I’m lying here with boobs and everything hanging out, and there is no Playboy photographer . . . You know, when you are in a great movie, and some stupid crappy scene ruins it? Well, I hope this doesn’t happen. I’ve often said in a movie if the other person would just shut up and let the star talk . . . I can shut up now. There is nothing to say. I don’t have to worry about pain. I am so ready. I think I have told my family and friends this.

“To all it may concern . . . Hi! I’m in sound mind and spirit, and I know exactly what I am doing. I have had the best life in the whole world. I have never done anything I didn’t want to do . . . ask anybody. If it was a bad idea, it didn’t matter, it wouldn’t get done. So here goes, boys, and girls, here goes. (I’m still quoting here). No matter what I was cast for, Lois owned the funny part. It is most important to be funny. I’m funny and old enough to know what I’m doing. I adore my kids and husband. He thinks I’m the funniest one ever. I don’t go for sexy, just funny. If people don’t find this funny—tough. I’ve got a hell of a lot of cards, so people must think I’m funny. I just had the best day. Where the hell are the Playboy photographers?

“It takes a while for the penny to drop, but when it does, it’s good. Okay, lets rock and roll, get on with this. I will tell about the trip I am taking that nobody else is taking. I think it’s starting tonight. It starts with me finding out I’m sick. Researching that medically, nothing could be done. So I’ve decided to go to sleep. I’m telling them what I want to do.

“I just have to hold on to it hard, and do it. I’m getting tired, and I don’t want to miss it. I know I’m ready. I don’t want anything to slow this down. I’m tired. I had the best day of my life. Knowing it is one of the last makes it the best ever. Can I say to the kids, I’m going on a trip, and it ends my way? There’s no stopping it now . . . God, I’m so lucky. Okay, let the games begin, there’s no stopping me . . . Friday the thirteenth. The body is completely worn out. I know I’m so ready. My body is so ready. Nothing can stop the start. Hi. My trip needs to start quicker. Let’s get on with it. Because there is nobody here, it can be as fast or slow as I want it to be.”

That was on Friday the thirteenth. There was more on the fifteenth, and at that time, Lois was concerned with improving the care for palliative patients everywhere. Again, I quote:

“Dying patients need to know the time, date, and year every day.” (She wanted a big calendar with clear markings that showed major events like Halloween.) Another quote: “When I move my right hand that means help, my left hand, okay, no big deal . . . la de dah. Anything dying patients are holding at the end must be light enough to hold, and if they drop them, they must be light enough not to hurt them. Even if you have to pay more, you have to find plastic things. Every healthcare worker must have a large nametag. Longer straws should be used in water jugs.”

And then at two in the afternoon, Lois was again moving toward her destination. Quote: “It feels it may be over. Everything seems as though it is emptying.” Lois said she saw her deceased Mom and Dad and sensed her dead brother Eddie but said he was hiding. The next day, she asked to see Muriel and her brother, David. I asked her if there was anyone else she wanted to see, and she held up both hands to form a circle and said, “Everything was now complete.” It was time for her to prepare for her departure.

On Tuesday the seventeenth, just before she went into a coma, Lois said, “Come on, guys, people are here from the other side to help. Hurry up.” Lois again saw her mom and dad with Eddie still hiding, but this time, Lois was smiling. Moments later, she said, “I want it to be over today.” She began what they call flailing at about four that afternoon, and it lasted till about seven. She seemed so ready, so in control of what was happening. (Was this the drugs talking? I feel not.) We thought we were, but nothing can prepare you for death. If only others can experience half of what Lois and those left behind did, then this will be one death that had meaning.

At 5.30 a.m., October 18, 2000, Lois died. I was sleeping on the couch next to her. Joy (the nurse Lois trusted and confided in) was working the night shift, and the ride had come to an end. As you can see, Lois was a strong, caring, and feisty lady.

Well, Booby, until we meet again. I have all the memories, and I’m glad I met you. You were “one hell of a lady.”

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