by Stafford Betty, Professor of religious studies, California State University, Bakersfield, published in Huff Post Healthy Living
An elderly woman never speaks, no longer recognizes her loved ones when they come to visit, and shows no expression. By the looks of her, she is a human vegetable. And she’s been this way for over a year. Her brain’s cerebral cortex and hippocampus — necessary for memory, thought, language, and normal consciousness — are severely shrunk. Her brain bears little resemblance to a healthy one.
Yet something utterly astonishing is about to happen. As reported by both the nursing staff of her care unit and her family members: “Unexpectedly, she calls her daughter and thanks her for everything. She has a phone conversation with her grandchildren, exchanges kindness and warmth. She says farewell and shortly thereafter dies.”