Kitty's daughter, Teresa Harrison, talks with Roland
photo by Tom Rankin, Director of the Center for Documentary Studies

The Last Days of Kitty Shenay

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A Blessed Woman

That evening, about six hours later, Kitty suddenly got animated, sat up and tried to rise. Teresa calmed her with a dose of drugs, then spoke to her.

"I just told her that everybody who's died that she loves was waiting for her, and that everybody loves her," Teresa recounts later. "I told her that God was waiting, that she was a mighty warrior, that he was waiting for her. And I believe that. Mom is a true warrior."

With Kitty calm again, Teresa left the room for about ten minutes. When she went back in, Kitty was gone.

A couple of hours later, Teresa sits in her mother's living room with Roland and with a brother-in-law, the first relative to arrive. They talk about how Kitty lived, and, especially, about how she died.

"I am very, very thankful," Teresa says. "I have to look at it that way. I think God brought me here, he brought everybody together," for a last family gathering at Kitty's townhouse a few days before, "and he let my Mom die without suffering." Sure, Teresa concedes, Kitty had trouble breathing for the last few days, but throughout her illness her medications spared her "horrible agony from cancer pain."

In the end, Teresa says, she's thankful for the six months between Kitty's diagnosis and her death, six months of Kitty "not being sick because she's on chemo or radiation, that we've had conversations" and time to say goodbye.

"She was blessed," Roland says.

"She was blessed," Teresa agrees with a laugh. "I think I almost told her that: you are a blessed woman."

After Kitty's death, her husband Maurice needs too much care to handle at home so he's placed in a nursing home. Then, suddenly, following his wife by just six days, he dies.

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