The Saddest Happy Story

We saw Uncle Leo and Aunt Hannah in September while Grammy was in Oklahoma. Hannah had Alzheimer's, and Grammy wanted to make sure she got to see her sister. When we were saying our "hellos," Grammy misstepped, and Leo caught her. His skin was so thin, it tore open. Luckily, Sarah, their fifteen-year-old granddaughter (and also their chauffeur that day) had her purse stocked with pink Hello Kitty bandaids. As Sarah was helping Leo with his open wound, Leo motioned his head toward Hannah and said to Grammy "We're going to go together." He didn't ever want to leave her alone.
A week after our visit, Uncle Leo had to put Aunt Hannah in a nursing home. His physical health was deteriorating, and even after changing the locks to make sure she couldn't leave, Hannah would get out and wander through the streets of Bartlesville. They'd been in the process of building a home in Skaitook to be closer to their children, but that still wouldn't take away the harm Hannah could unknowingly inflict upon herself. Leo was devastated. He was able to visit her every day, and he did just that.
Just before Thanksgiving, Leo was walking through the parking lot after a lunch date with Hannah when a car backed into him. He had broken ribs and you can imagine what happened to his skin with the force of a car backing into him and knocking him down. They couldn't do skin grafts because there wasn't any skin healthy enough to graft, and there was no way they could attach grafted skin to the skin he already had. I couldn't imagine the quality of life he would have, and I knew how much he wanted to be there to make sure his wife was taken care of, but there was a big part of me that didn't want this man to live in an even more restricted body.
When I heard that he'd been hit by a car, I thought about the hat I always remember him wearing, how it proudly declared that he was a veteran of both WWII and the Korean War. Had it stayed on his head when he fell to the ground? How far away did the hand-held oxygen tank he depended on land? Did his suspenders stay fastened? And why is this what happened to this man? 85-year-old men should not get hit by cars, especially in the parking lot of the facility where their wives are. I was so angry that it happened.
After a time in the hospital, Leo was transferred to the same room in the nursing home as Hannah. She passed away in her sleep on January 10, 2011 with Leo in the bed next to hers. And then, after two days a part, Leo passed away on January 12. The last few months of his life were so sad, and I'm sure he spent the last few years worried about how the end would come, and not just for him or her, but how the dynamics would be when one was left without the other. The way they were able to "go together" is one of the most evident tender mercies I've witnessed in my life. My anger has turned into gratitude, that despite the events leading up to their deaths, Leo was granted his last wish.

(Grammy and Hannah Summer 2008)

(Hannah loving on Cora Summer 2010)

"For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."

A link to their obituaries: Hannah Louise Bradshaw, Leo Mosier Bradshaw


  1. Oh, that is so, so sweet. I am so glad that they got to go together.

  2. It's so like the Notebook lol. I always hope that James and I go "together" in our very, very old age too. It is definitely a tender mercy for both Aunt Hannah and Uncle Leo. Hard for Grandma to watch all of her siblings go though.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. You're right. The saddest happiest story.

    Love the photos too.

  4. I randomly came accross your blog and had to let you know. This definitely is the saddest happy story I have ever read. Thank you for sharing.

  5. that is such a beautiful story. thanks for sharing it with us.



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