Taking care of Nadine

In the last two years of Nadine’s life, I took care of her.

Nadine was my neighbor of many years and she often babysat for my children. Sometimes we would be talking in our alley or run into each other on the street and she would say, “I can come over and watch the kids. Why don’t you and Dan go have coffee.” She knew we rarely went out.

We had great times together. We went to doll shows, flea markets and yes, we even collected Beanie Babies! I have great memories of the two of us spending time together.

As the years went by, her house deteriorated and she fell behind in her taxes. We didn’t know the seriousness of the situation until the taxes were sold.

Long estranged from her family, she finally told them what happened. They bought the taxes back and planned to fix the house. By that time it was completely unlivable.

None of her friends knew that she was living without heat or water for several years. Of course her own family wouldn’t take her in! After we found out, she stayed with us for a short time and then she finally found an apartment.

She had fallen down one winter and hurt herself quite badly. She was in a nursing home for quite some time and I was the only one who went to see her.

One morning I planned to drive her to her doctor’s appointment. As she approached my car, I noticed she looked odd. She was yellow.

The doctor admitted her to the hospital and a week later she was gone.

Stubborn till the very end, she would not let me call her family. A mutual friend of ours called them to relay the news that she had passed.

I think of Nadine quite a bit, even though it’s been several years since her death. I have some guilt about the way I handled things. I lost patience with her a lot and I was taking care of my family as well as her. Sometimes I was overwhelmed and frustrated.

My last memory of her was in the hospital. I had promised her I would be back to visit in a few days. She looked up at me and said, “You are my angel.”

Perhaps I was, but now she’s mine.

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