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A Final Word From David - On September 23, 2000, Ann received the ultimate healing. Being human, it was not the healing we would have liked - but her pain is over and who could wish it back on her? She led her life to the fullest right up to the day she died. The Thursday night before, Ann went to a slumber party with a prayer group she of which she was a part. Friday night we cooked out with our children and watched a movie. Even then there was no indication how close the end was. She woke me up Saturday morning about 7 AM and stated she could not move her legs. In fact, she had no ability to move anything below her shoulders. At her request I sat her up - but she quit breathing. After laying her back down, she started breathing again after about a minute. I made a call to Hospice, who sent a nurse out. Together we sat Ann back up, only to have her stop breathing again. It was determined that she had a tumor on her spine that was interfering with the nerves in her spine. This is what caused the paralysis and the blackouts when she sat up. Ann's back started bothering her and she was given some pain medication. By 9 AM the family had all been notified and had arrived at our house. The nurse and I moved Ann to the hospital bed we had in our bedroom. About 10 AM she started complaining about not being able to breathe. About 11:30 AM she was given some more pain medication, and about noon she slipped into a coma. About 3 PM I crawled in bed with Ann, watching her breathing slow down. One our two cats had also climbed up into bed with her and was sleeping. As 4 PM approached I could see her breaths being further and further apart, and at 4 PM she took her last breath. I told someone in the room she had gone and the family gathered around and weep at our loss. Then Justin said a long sweet prayer for his Mother.

At her request, Ann has been cremated and had her ashes spread off of Cape Lookout, North Carolina on May 26, 2001. This was a place we sailed to several times and always found peace and beauty.  Schools of porpoise play in the area as well as the occasional sea turtle.

A Service of Celebration was held for Ann on September 30th. The service was planned by Ann a couple of weeks before her passing and included a statement written by Ann on life and dying.. There was no visitation the night before the service. The service was a joyous happy occasion that gave praise to God for the way He used Ann to celebrate his glory. To give you an idea of how many people Ann had touched, the church (1st Presbyterian Church of Burlington NC) seats 600 people comfortably. All the pews were pack to capacity and there were people standing against the walls on the main floor and the balcony. One of the ministers stated she had never seen so many people present for a service there before.  Following the service, a reception was held in a large open room where people were free to mingle with any of the family members they wished to speak with.  Light food was provided by the Women of the Church.   Rather than the low key, quite, somber occasion the typical "visitation" is, this was a very happy joyous time for everyone.  Ann's continuing happiness was present with us.

It is hard for me to even begin to describe to you what a wonderful person Ann was. As a wife not only did she do those things a "wife" does, but she was my best friend as well. We were so in tune to each other, that during our 24 years of marriage we had a total of about 4 arguments! And because they happened so infrequently, we did not know how to behave - so they did not last long. We always attributed our happiness to each of us putting the wants and needs of the other before ourselves. As a Mother to our two children and my son (her step-son), she showed patience and kindness. She gave them the love that only a Mother can give without conditions. As a daycare provider for 13 years, she touched the lives of many other young children as they came to stay in our home during the week days. As Ann moved out of daycare and back into the business world as a personal placement consultant, she made friends with the candidates she was helping to place. One candidate noted that Ann truly listened to what he had to say and acted on his words in his best interest. When Ann was diagnosed with cancer in December of 1997, she left work on long term disability. She had hoped to come back to work, but reoccurrence of her cancer made that impossible. So she focused her energies to other areas. She started a local colon cancer support group, and led or made arrangements for guest speakers once a month. She explored other avenues of cancer fighting rather than just the traditional chemotherapy. She quit eating meat. She started drinking fresh carrot juice and apple juice. She attended a two week school on how to cleanse the body of toxins - both the chemo and from within the foods we eat today. This made a major difference in her life. She lost weight, lost cellulite and felt better than she had in years. Ann was asked to join the Cancer Committee for the Alamance Medical Regional Center as the first non-medical person on the committee. Ann was very interested in helping the hospital to explore more naturopathic ways of treating cancer. Ann always had a smile on her face and spoke easy of her cancer. She knew she was going to die and looked upon that knowledge as a gift from God. It gave her the opportunity to do things with our family and friends that would otherwise be put off - knowing there would be another day.

Ann's bright blue eyes, and smiling face will be missed by many - maybe none more than myself. But her faith in God has left me that much stronger knowing that her suffering is over and that my suffering is really just selfishness of missing her and wanting her to be back her with me. Life is, and will be, different without her. Once our daughter returns to college in the spring I will only have our 2 cats and a lifetime of memories left. But as long as I have those memories Ann will never be very far away from me

Hospice - I can not ever say enough about the wonderful job that Hospice provided to Ann and I in the mere 10 days they were there.  We had a nurse and a social worker assigned to Ann, and they came to visit twice a week, or more often if needed.  They provided information and strength to our families as we pass through the end.  Ann's assigned nurse was not working that Saturday, but when he found out what was going on, he and his partner came immediately.  He indicated that Ann did not have long, and to call him if anything changed.  He and his partner returned after being notified of Ann's passing and immediately joined in the tears of grieve.  The nurse and his partner then stayed at our house until after the funeral home had come to take Ann's body.   They then helped to tear down the hospital bed and other equipment to bring our bedroom back to normal.  If you have never had a reason to deal with Hospice, I hope that you will take advantage of their services if ever needed.  They are special people doing a very tough job.  They made our lives so much richer by being there.

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