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Nes and Liz

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Driving Miss Liz “home” one last time

Posted on 17 August 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

When I arrived at the hospital on Tuesday morning, I knew we were nearing the end. The nurses said she’d been waiting for me.

Through a thick oxygen mask and without her teeth, she said quite forcefully: “Bring…everyone…here…now!” And she paused, as she always did, and reiterated: “EVERYONE!”

Within five minutes I was on the phone to everyone in her tiny world, letting ‘em know that Liz was summoning all of her loved ones to see her one last time. We never wanted her to know she was dying but sometime over the weekend, she figured it out. On Monday morning, she asked me: “Am I finished?” Knowing her 98-year history and her legendary toughness, I told her, “Not yet because we’re still here talking!” I told her that I still wasn’t betting against her. She laughed, just like she always did even amidst the discomfort of struggling for every breath.

On Tuesday afternoon, her beloved sister and nieces and nephews arrived from Delaware at 4:30. They stayed with her until 7:30. I left her with our beloved neighbor and my stepbrother and planned to return around midnight to take over the nightshift. My radio at WNST was mostly done for the week and I was ready to stay up late watching the Orioles and camp with her until the end – whenever the end was. The doctors informed me earlier in the week that this was not going to have a happy ending because she had lost her ability to swallow food.

Amazingly, she was completely coherent and communicative until the very end. When I left her on Tuesday night with eight members of our family at 7 p.m., it felt as though she would continue to suffer and struggle more – maybe even for days. Instead, her body failed at 8:25 and she was gone by 9 p.m. She gathered her family and said goodbye to us in her own memorable way. She stayed alive solely to see her 93-year old sister, who was always the most cherished member of her family.

I thought I would be there for her last breath. That was the plan. Instead, I was with a dear old rock and roll and high school chum at a Thai restaurant ordering a beer. As the waitress told me, “We don’t have that beer,” my phone rang simultaneously.

The doctor told me that my Mom had lost vitals.

Less than 30 minutes later, Eliza Allen McGurgan was gone.

She died, literally, while I was ordering a beer.

It’s incredible – almost inconceivable.

I have no regrets. Zero. She didn’t want me to see her die. She chose to die with

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The Mom chronicles: Some summer laughs on the final journey for Queen of Dundalk

Posted on 04 July 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

The old girl is finally breaking down on us.

I’m writing about my Mom (a.k.a. Liz, Lizzie, Eliza, Nan, Geezy) because I feel the need to share her final journey and attempt to have a sense of humor and some positive perspective about all of it – especially in light of the kind of 24-hour-a-day caregiving I was privileged enough to extend to my wife Jenn, keeping her safe and clean and alive over the past three years after two battles with leukemia.

Now that my wife has survived a pair of death-defying miracles and 155 nights in the hospital and is doing pretty darned well in the summer of 2017, we’ve now learned that my mom is preparing for her final journey on earth. She’ll be 98 on July 26th.

The doctors have told us the end is nearing for her because her lungs are beginning to fail. Her little body – now 66 pounds and all 4-feet-6 of her – is breaking down, a very natural human condition.

SHE’S ALMOST 98 YEARS OLD!!! Whew, what an incredible ride for the old girl from Abbeville, South Carolina!

But it’s been one helluva fight and I’m sure it will be right up until the final bell. She’s still feisty, fiery and funny when she delivers a line.

She doesn’t talk too much but when she does, chances are, it’ll be something comedic. And some of the time, she laughs at her own jokes and still humors me at my own twisted sense of humor. She says “yep” a lot. She demands cookies and beer whenever she feels like it. She gained a pound on our sofa over the past two weeks!

I ask her if she thinks my couch is a Holiday Inn and she says, “Yep!”

After two stints in the hospital with respiratory issues and two weeks in our home trying to recover, it’s become apparent that she needs professional care and after many back and forths with state government, county government, Johns Hopkins, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, I can report that we believe my mom will be well cared for during her final days. From assisted living to nursing homes to rehabs and hospice care, it’s been a few weeks of trying to get educated on how America takes care of its elderly. I had no idea what “palliative care” meant. It’s the first time in a long time that I had to look

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My best 2012 Baltimore sports story is Jessica Long…and yours will be too!

Posted on 31 December 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

Perhaps you already know parts of the story of local swimming sensation Jessica Long. Maybe you’ve seen her on the evening news or you’ve seen her honored locally or even nationally on the ESPY’s or as the 2006 James Sullivan Award winner.

As a journalist here for 29 years, I’ve had the privilege of knowing some special athletes and people around sports. The Baltimore connections and heroes are among some of the greatest names in the sports universe from Johnny Unitas and Brooks Robinson to Ray Lewis and Cal Ripken not mention from Michael Phelps back to Babe Ruth. But the story of Jessica Long is better than any of them because of what she doesn’t have.

Jessica Long doesn’t have legs.

While all eyes and focus were on Baltimore’s worldwide star Michael Phelps this summer during the Olympic Games from London, another local swimmer & world-class competitor was waiting in the wings to make her third splash in the Paralympic Games, which followed the Closing Ceremonies in England.

Jessica Long first gained local and national attention as a 12-year old at the 2004 Athens games and now has been through the Beijing and London games and is emerging as a model, spokesperson and inspiration to people all over the world. Oh, and she’s turns 21 in February but her eyes have seen the world in a big way and this past year and this unfolding story I’m about to tell is incredible, heart-warming and still doesn’t have an ending – happy or otherwise.

Then again, almost everything surrounding Jessica Long always seems to turn out with an immense level of happiness and smiles all around. This blog will end with a video of her surrounded by Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, John Harbaugh draped with her Paralympic gold medals and you’ll see her mantra for the coach in regard to the Baltimore Ravens’ playoff run:

“Pressure is a privilege,” she says.

*        *       *

The Paralympics Games attract an all-too-small fraction of the attention of the sports and media spotlight so it’s up to people like me in places like Baltimore to tell you about my favorite sports story of 2012 and hope to inspire you as we enter 2013.

My favorite Baltimore sports story of 2012 is about Jessica Long and you’ll soon find out why.

This story is lengthy because it needs to be and contains various links and pictures that I personally hope you check out and read as you begin another year. Your 2013 will probably begin with two legs so think about the courage of Jessica Long and her amazing narrative

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