Saturday, December 20, 2008

We Will Miss Her

We have been trying to call or speak with people in person whenever possible, a task that is proving overwhelming. So I will reluctantly post our tragic news here.

Marianna Howland Ward, born March 5, 1930, slipped quietly into the arms of Jesus on Wednesday, December 17 at 9:45 pm. Her son Richard held her right hand, her daughter in law Cynthia held her left hand, and in her sleep she simply did not take her next breath. It was exactly what she had hoped for, and we are blessed that she did not suffer. Right up to the end, even as the cancer spread, Marianna was in no pain. None. The Lord had His hand on her thoughout this ordeal. I know that is hard to think of, when He took her against our wishes, but in the end she had no pain, no struggle, a dignified end for a remarkable woman. We were able to celebrate Christmas as a family before she dropped into sleep, all of her grandchildren gathered together, and she had written them letters that were put into their Christmas cards-with many tears. A dear friend, Kelsey Myers, came and played Christmas Carols on her harp, it was truly beautiful. Marianna left us with no regrets.

Services will be Saturday, December 27 at 11 am.
Memory Gardens Mortuary Chapel
455 W. Central Avenue
Brea, CA

Marianna left provision for a lunch gathering after the service, location to be announced at the service, but please plan to join us after interment, as we recall Marianna in a more relaxed setting.

In lieu of flowers Marianna requested that donations be made to:

Ovarian Cancer National Alliance
919 7th Street N.W. Suite 1190
Washington, D.C. 20006


St. Joseph Hospice
1845 W. Orangewood Avenue
Orange, CA 92868-9500

We also invite you, in honor of Marianna, to go out and just make someone’s day today. Open a door for a stranger. Call an old friend and tell them you love them. Forgive a hurt. Answer your telephone with a hearty Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening that makes your caller feel special. Marianna made every day count. May we all be so blessed.

With all of our family’s love to you and your family.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Revision: Friday Dec 12

Welcome to the Ward family emotional roller coaster. We left the house to get a few hours sleep, convinced she was leaving us. Hospice told us to bring in the kids if it was important, she looked like this was it. So when Cynthia called this morning, we braced ourselves for the worst. Instead, Mom is sitting up eating Jello and demanding to start her day! Now, we are still not going to have visitors, she needs her rest, but we have gone from "today is it" to being able to celebrate one more day, and we will take it, thank you very much Lord Jesus!

Friday morning, December 12 We Are Losing Her

I am sorry. It looks like despite more rest she is not returning to us. Marianna's breathing is labored, and she gets a faraway look, like she is not in the room anymore. We are losing her.

She goes to this other place, and then recognizes us, smiles, tell us she is OK, she is not in any pain, she loves us, and then goes back to the other place. And she gets the most beautiful look when she is there. It is not scary at all. Heartbreaking for us, yes, but she is happy, and peaceful, and it is a blessing to watch her there.

I am sorry that she cannot have visitors beyond family at this point. She knows you love her, she really does, we have spoken about it many times, and how blessed she has been by your love and friendship. Take strength in that, and know that we are praying for her friends just as her friends are praying for us. We are all in this transition together.


Thursday, December 11, 2008


Sorry, I am reneging on the invitation to visit. We have copletely worn her out with visits and phone calls, and she needs to rest. She has promised to take a few days off for a long weekend, without visitors, and outgoing phone calls only. If you call the house you will reach the answering machine. We promise to check the messages and let her know you called, but she will not answer the phone for a few days. I will be blunt. If we do not get her strength up, we will lose her faster. Thanks for understanding.

Thursday, December 11

Latest update: Marianna is not doing well. She tires much more easily in the last 2 days. We have a catch-22 situation. She thrives on human company, but exhausts easily from talking. So we ask that you please continue to call and visit, she needs you, but please limit it to 15 minutes. Try to do the talking for her, tell her about your day, what did you make for dinner, what happened at the office, anything to keep up conversation without getting her to talk. When she talks she coughs, and when she coughs it is not only a strain on her lungs it is a strain on her heart. Marianna is also having a hard time keeping food down, which is a sign of the cancer progressing. Frankly it is happening faster than anticipated. Sorry today is a bummer update, it is rough on all of us. Thanks to all who have been our loving support network. The entire Ward family is grateul beyond anything we can describe.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday, December 8

A very special thank you to all who came for 2nd Thanksgiving last night! It did Marianna a world of good to see everyone, and it brought my spirits up as well.

Now that she is home, we have fallen into a routine. Cindy gets her up and spends the first few hours getting her prepared for the day, feeding her, and making sure she gets her meds. Calls before 10 am go to the answering machine, or it disrupts the prep time. By 10 am Marianna is up and in her wheelchair. She then returns calls she missed in the morning and visits with those who stop by or call. By early afternoon she is pretty worn out, and goes back to bed. She continues to visit until evening when she gets her next round of prep from Cindy, and off to sleep. We now have a sign on the front door, to let y'all know when "Visitors Welcome" or "Please Do Not Disturb".

I have to share a cute story related to the door signs. Our handyman George has been doing some work around Mom's house, and I had asked him to stop by at 2 pm the other day. 2:00 came and went, no George, which is odd, he is religiously punctual. I finally went to the door, where George was standing at attention. The sign indicated "Do Not Disturb" and no way was George ringing that bell for fear of waking "Miss Marianna". God love him, George is a blessing to us, until he starts crying and then it sets me off too. So many people have asked about George after seeing him in the house, I will share that he is incredibly reliable, and always looking for work. He can do just about any job other than electrical, or major plumbing, and best of all he tells you if he CAN'T do something. Reach him at 714-225-7954.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Happy Day

Marianna has had quite the adventure today. She got carried into the house by some hunky ambulance guys (It's OK, Stan would forgive her) she got to see all of her granchildren again, and she got some exciting new socks with bells on them. Today was actually a very positive experience. Seeing her at home, joking and being herself, was the best medicine any of us could have asked for. When she is this "up" it is hard to believe that this is even happening. But it is.

Rather than dwell on the negative, we are going to celebrate every day that we still have her. Long faces and tears are for later, and God knows they are coming. But for now, we party. There are so many people who lose their loved ones with a knock at the door and a CHP officer explaining that Mom/Dad/Brother/Sister/Child is never coming home again. Every one of those people would give ANYTHING for one more day, one more chance to say "I love you" one last time. Rather than focus on the fact that the Lord is calling her home long before any of us are ready to lose her, I will be focused on the fact that He has given us the priviledge of that one more chance to say "i love you"....that chance those other families never get. I invite you to join me.

From here on out, every day will be Marianna's birthday and Mother's Day and Christmas as we enjoy the time we have with her. To that end, Marianna missed Thanksgiving. A can of Ensure in a hospital bed does not a holiday make. And while she may not want to eat much, I know she would like to see her loved ones. So I invite everyone who reads this (and please forward it to those who do not know about us) to join us Sunday, December 7 at 3 pm for "Second Thanksgiving." Our family will provide turkey, ham, beverages, and paper goods, etc. Y'all bring either a side dish or dessert to share. Kids are welcome. Our girl may excuse herself partway through for a nap if she needs it, but she will love having the house filled with her loved ones. RSVP to Cynthia Ward at 714-292-0042.