Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

A New Friend Has Vanished

Steady CM readers know that my siblings and I recently set up our 91-year-old father’s house to accommodate round-the-clock nursing care. We turned our late mother’s dressing room into a pretty single bedroom just twenty feet from Dad’s bed so that the live-in nurse can quickly rise and attend to Dad in the middle of the night.

When a nurse or hospice worker is on the job, the relationship gets quickly intimate. It’s almost like an angel-confessor flutters in, and magically absorbs the family’s woes. All was well when I came back to New York, and Dad was bonding nicely with all three of the women sharing his care.

Of the three, one woman stood out as an especially sweet, well-meaning soul. While Dave Ann was forty-something, and a mother of nearly grown kids, she seemed surprisingly young, like she was still emerging from a protective cocoon. In the course of the time my sister and I were down there, I developed the self-indulgent fantasy that Dave Ann was opening up and finding our family fascinating: she accompanied Dad to his first appointment with an acupuncturist two weeks ago (somewhat thrust upon him by his bossy urban daughters), she listened to a Handel oratorio with us at high volume, she watched parts of a long documentary on the life of Theodore Roosevelt (and seemed so interested that my sister offered her the tape to take home), and she’d helped Dad and his wheelchair get to church just last Sunday.


Wednesday night, we received the most implausible, tragic news from her employer: Dave Ann was dead. She’d died in a car crash on Tuesday. A rear tire had blown, and she’d lost control.

My first chattering thought, upon getting this news secondhand from my sister, was: “No, it’s Dad who is close to death. Dad is 91. Dave Ann is young. She just joined us.” After processing the fact that I knew she had children, and that her husband had died several years ago, I was racked with grief for her remaining family.

“Dad,” I said the next day, still struggling to absorb the sequence of events, “since you still write columns for the newspaper, maybe you should write something about Dave Ann. Perhaps you should gather your thoughts on the…I don’t know, maybe it’s the seeming randomness of death. Maybe in paying tribute to her, you could also deal with what’s happening to you.”


He didn’t jump at my suggestion. He is still weak. He can only do so much. So he sent a wonderful note, a check, and a ham to Dave Ann’s family.

Up until this morning, if you can believe it, I’d actually forgotten that I am blogging, and that I could tell you about this up-ending experience. When I told the whole story to’s astrology columnist Shelley Ackerman, she said, “When you analyze the final days of someone’s life, they are always amazing.”

And Dave Ann’s were amazing. One light has been shut off. But another is lit and burning. I remember giving Dave Ann a kiss on the cheek when I left. Silly chattering me was thinking: “I wonder if kissing Dave Ann is appropriate.” And now I’m so glad I kissed her. I’m so glad I did.

Comments read comments(11)
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Kim Matthews

posted April 28, 2006 at 10:22 pm

Hi Amy, Enjoyed your article for today. Happy belated birthday. Yours is the 17th and mine is the 24th. Some things are in long term memory. I want to e-mail you something that a colleague in massage is doing up in New York. What is your e-mail address? 5 day intensive June 12-16 Neutral Mask>

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posted April 29, 2006 at 12:21 am

I am so sorry for the loss of your new friend, and in a way, family member Dave Ann. I am glad you kissed her too. My mother is still friends with the occupational therapist that came to her home to help her take care of her dying mother. Dave Ann, Bless Your Soul Ongoing.>

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posted April 29, 2006 at 2:44 am

God bless you, your family, and Dave Ann’s spirit in Heaven.>

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posted April 29, 2006 at 5:31 pm

I’m in my mid-40s. A couple of years ago, I had two co-workers, one I was sort of close to, one I was acquainted with but did not really know, in their mid-30s die suddenly and unexpectedly. This really made me realize that no one knows how long they will live. I’m working on living in each moment, rather than planning or worrying about the future or dwelling too much on the past, because that is all that life is, one moment at a time. What am I, what are we, doing with each moment? As painful as her death is, be happy that you knew Dave Ann. She was obviously a special person. Thank you for sharing about her with us.>

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posted May 1, 2006 at 1:50 pm

Thank you for sharing this with us, although I know it is very painful for you and all your family. I’m glad Dave Ann touched your life, if ever so briefly…I would feel as you do, glad to have kissed her…>

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posted May 1, 2006 at 2:43 pm

Very sad, I’m so sorry for Dave Ann’s family.>

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posted May 1, 2006 at 2:57 pm

I’m sorry for your losing Dave Ann, but she isn’t gone. She has simply moved on to the next step in her life.Whether you believe in reincarnation(I do) or Heaven, her life is far from over. And a part of her will be carried in you and your family forever.>

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Eevie Keys

posted May 1, 2006 at 3:19 pm

I’m so sorry, Amy…>

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alana perrault

posted May 1, 2006 at 5:49 pm

How heartbraking and tragic for all of you. (I actually gasped when you wrote that Dave Ann died) God love Shelly Ackerman! In the midst of this, her comment, “When you analyze the final days of someone’s life, they are always amazing.”, felt like a gentle stream of grace… I’m glad you kissed Dave Ann, too. Most of all, thank you for sharing this; I just grabbed my kids and played “Kissy Momster” for as long as they let me.>

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Lori Larsen

posted May 1, 2006 at 10:36 pm

When an angel appears in our lives we are not aware until they have left our lives. Dave Ann was such an angel.>

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lisa Schamess

posted May 6, 2007 at 1:37 pm

O. O, Amy. I am so sorry. Boy, Dave Ann was lucky to have you in her life briefly, because when you look at people you really really see them. i should know. you have been looking at me steadily for lo these 20-some years. i am so glad i sent you that teacup now. –lisa>

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