It was a chain-smoking ex-nun who taught me what my job required. More than the law firm, more than the fiduciary classes, she taught me that my job is often as “midwife into heaven”. She was one of the first “orphan elders” I helped as trustee and health agent. She taught me that an educated and intelligent woman with dementia might be able to do the most difficult NY Times crossword puzzle in pen, but not be interested or able to buy her own shoes.
She was a bit of a rebel and would light up her cigarettes inside and out, whenever she pleased. Her friends told me she used to hang out in the church patio during Mass to smoke with a friend, and she would often argue with the priest about his homily. She had the equivalent education of a PhD in English, and she had taught many students in inner city Los Angeles schools during the 1960’s before she chose to leave the order and marry an ex-priest.
One day I had taken her to visit her doctor and secure a POLST, to reflect her end of life care wishes. I had to go into the documents office to deliver it at Kaiser. While I was gone, she lit up a cigarette in my car. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t let anyone smoke in my car. When I returned, she looked at me sheepishly and snuffed it out. At that moment, I could only smile because as she stubbornly clung to her routines, it was her way of embracing LIFE, while she still had breath in her.
She left a legacy reminding us that stubborn, smart, educated women may still need help one day. When they do, envision the community support which The ACE Fiduciary Group, A Non-Profit Corporation will enjoy. We plan to offer fiduciary services which can complete the circle of care for the “orphan elders” in our midst.