I first met my half-sister Florence when she was 82. My father had had a family before he married my mother. It was kept a secret, only uncovered twenty-five years after he died.
Florence, a widow by the time I met her, lived alone in New York City. A year ago she moved to an assisted living facility in Boston to be close to her daughter.
Over the past year, she has had some challenges, but was basically OK. In fact, Peter and I hosted a party for her 100th birthday last December. In May, she celebrated Mother’s Day with her great-grandchildren.
On Monday night she passed away. She had had a fall a few weeks ago from which she didn’t fully recover. After some time in the hospital, her doctors recommended hospice rather than rehab.
The first time I visited her in hospice she was very happy to see me. The following week when I visited, she was unresponsive and on continuous morphine.
Florence had loving children and grandchildren, a meaningful career as a nurse, and friends of all ages. She had a good life and lived to a hundred in relatively good health.
I am sad that I didn’t get to know her sooner.