I wrote this original post several years ago but being today is the anniversary of my Neice’s death, I wanted to remind everyone of the valuable lessons she taught us.
As soon as Mary was born, my niece statrted to struggle. My sister was told Mary wouldn’t live past the age of 2. What her doctors and everyone else who cared for Mary came to know was how much of a fighter she was and how she didn’t like being told what she could or could not do.
She went through, not 1 but, 2 double lung transplants. She fought so hard during all 22 years of her young life.
Mary passed away on October 14, 1998. One of her last wishes was to take a trip wherever she wanted to go. My sister told me, she chose to come to Pensacola to surprise me for my birthday, which was in September. It was a huge surprise.
I will never forget the last week of her life. She was talking to me from her hospital bed and she asked me, “When are you coming to see me?” I told her I would be coming that next weekend. She said, “NO! YOU NEED TO COME NOW!” I asked her what was wrong and she said, “everybody here is acting all nice and pleasant. When I yell at someone, I want that someone to treat me normal and yell back at me and tell me to shut-up. You’re that person!” I arrived in New Orleans the next day.
I stayed up at the hospital with her, only going to my parents’ house to bathe and eat. On her “last night” one of Mary’s friends and I were with her and we were watching the World Series. Mary was on oxygen and her tube would sometimes fill with condensation and have to be emptied. If not, she would have more trouble breathing than what she already had. When this would happen, she would alert us and we would drain her oxygen tube.
During a crucial part of the game, Mary was trying to get my attention to drain her oxygen tube. Keeping in mind what she asked of me on the telephone, and in keeping with the sarcastic nature of our relationship, I told her to “keep it down, we’re trying to watch the game.” She started laughing, which made her start coughing, then we were all laughing. All of a sudden, she stopped coughing raised up her oxygen mask, held up a single finger (you know which one) and said some pretty obscene words, put her mask back on and continued coughing! That was my Mary.
We stayed awake most of that night, talking, laughing, telling stories. A little after 1:00 pm the next day, well, you know what happened. Although I was terribly sad, I wouldn’t have traded those last days for anything in the world.
The answer to the question, “WHY HER?” came to me this morning.
She was chosen to show us, even when in the darkest of times, even during her hardest struggles, all she wanted was to be treated normally. For those of us who are Living with a Dementia-Related Illness or any type of Illness for that matter, are just asking to treat us normal. Please don’t treat us as our Disease or Disability, just treat us as you would like to be treated.
Being Mary could still laugh through it all was also a valuable lesson. It is why, I laugh as much as I can and try to to keep a positive attitude. We can all learn so much from a brave, 22 year-old, young lady, Mary Estelle Tycer. She showed us how to LIVE WELL and asked to be treated normally.
All we are doing is asking for the same!
Missing You, Mary
Your Favorite, Uncle B
I miss her so very much but I know she is with my Mom, breathing with no issues, laughing, telling stories and at peace.