About a year and a half ago, when I knew I had to have hip replacement surgery, I had two main concerns: I didn’t want to “farm” my cats out, and I didn’t want to recuperate anywhere else than in my own home. I put the surgery off as long as I could, because I didn’t have an answer.
Then literally out of the blue, three women offered their help.
Margaret Ann Walsh, Mary Johnson and Harriet Sisk each offered, unbeknownst to one another.
I didn’t know any of the three that well, but their assistance kept me (and the cats) at home, and I remain forever grateful.
I liked Harriet’s downtown shop, and a few years earlier I’d commented that a cat “letter holder” looked like one my mother used to have. Not long after, she brought it to me as a gift. It was a thoughtful, unexpected kindness.
After my surgery, Harriet made sure I ate what I should, and she’d bring me fruits to tempt me. She wanted to make sure I kept hydrated, got enough rest, etc. She drove me to Huron for a check-up.
She and I kept in touch after my recovery. She was fun to talk to, and always had something interesting to say. She seemed a seeker, one who always liked to know just a little bit more about a subject. I appreciated her intelligence, and her thoughtfulness.
It wasn’t that long after my surgery that Harriet told me doctors had found a growth. She said she wasn’t about to have surgery or any type of treatment. And she didn’t. She wanted to remain in her own home. And she did.
Over the next several months, I checked in with her often. When she was feeling well enough, she liked to talk, and she spent quite a bit of time going through her “treasures.” She even found some photos of my family members. I couldn’t figure out how she obtained them–then I remembered all the auctions she has attended, and I decided the son of an aunt by marriage probably put things on an auction after her death.
Harriet was just a joy to talk to, and her interests were wide-ranging. Once she called to tell me the Retrospect I compile included an article from years ago that substantiated a “tale” her dad had told. She was so pleased that his story was verified.
I believe Harriet was rather perturbed that things were moving too slowly…”I never thought it would take this long to die,” she complained to me once.
The last few months, she often had a hard time breathing, so we wouldn’t talk long, but I think she appreciated that I checked in with her.
Not too long ago, she asked if I could bring some chicken…that sounded good to her. So I did, along with some soup. She wanted to pay, and I told her it wasn’t necessary. In typical Harriet style, she said, “Yes, you’ll have to take the money, or I won’t talk to you when you call.” I took the money.
I also got to know her daughter Russ Ann, because she came from Hot Springs often to be with her mom as time went by. She impressed me, too.
Russ Ann called February 10 to tell me her mother was gone. Of course I felt so sorry, but I also realized, strong woman that she was, Harriet did it her way, on her terms. You must respect that.
I only wish I’d gotten to know her well many years sooner.
And more, much more than this, she did it her way