Jody Hughes
1933 - 2006

Jody Hughes, the first certified Iyengar Yoga Instructor on the Georgetown Divide, died peacefully in  her  home  in  Tucson, Arizona, on November 21, 2006, at  the  age   of 73.
She was a graduate of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco in 1983. After graduation she studied at Oxford, England and Pune, India with B.K.S.Iyengar and his daughter Geeta. For many years she continued to take classes from senior Iyengar instructors in the United States.

She and her husband, Dick, moved to the Georgetown Divide in the Northern Sierra Foothills in 1982 and bought a home in Garden Valley. She had a number of studios starting at the Georgetown Health Club, a Main Street Studio, a Buffalo Hill Center Studio, her home studio in an attic loft and finally a new studio added to her Grouse Lane home. She also taught classes at the Placerville Town Hall and Somerset Grange.

In 1996 she and Dick moved to SaddleBrooke, an active adult community near Tucson, Arizona, where Jody taught at the community’s fitness center for seven years. She also taught at the Westward Look Resort Hotel in Tucson.

In 1998 Jody was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare bone marrow cancer. She continued to teach yoga for four days each week, while taking IV treatment for her cancer on the fifth day of each week. She retired from teaching yoga in 2002 at the age of 70. Most patients with myeloma live about 3 to 5 years. Jody lived nine years with this disease. In 2005 she was diagnosed with another very rare disease, called primary amyloisosis, which is an abnormal protein usually produced by cells in the bone marrow. This disease was deposited first in her tongue, then mouth, esophagus and gastrointestinal tract, as well as her heart and skin. Jody was medically in remission for myeloma by taking a newly approved FDA drug, Relivimid, but it was the amyloidosis condition that caused her death. Amyloidosis is an incurable disease at this time. She had much pain from time to time during her long nine-year illness, but she never complained to anyone about her suffering.

As her medical condition worsened she began to lose weight and was not able to take solid and liquid food. She and her oncologist agreed it was time to begin hospice on November 1st. She elected to be home where she had views from her balcony of the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountain just 5 miles away. Every afternoon she was out on the balcony for hours until the sun would set on the mountains. She was able to walk up to the last few days. She never complained and her pain and suffering went away. Her daughter moved into their apartment and helped Dick care for her. As a true believer of Yoga she practiced some form of yoga each day until her next to last day.

The last moments of Jody’s life were memorable. The night before she died she was sleeping on her back and started to make common gurgling noises deep in her throat as she was breathing. We called the hospice nurse at 4 AM. She said “Give your wife an injection of morphine and one of ativan, then change her position so she will be able to breathe freely.”

After Dick gave Jody her injections, as she was soundly sleeping, Linda and Dick together put their arms under Jody’s body and gently turned her on her right side. Jody had her right arm up to her heart and her left arm out stretched across her chest. Jody continued to sleep soundly and the gurgling sounds began to subside slowly. In a few minutes she had started her transmission to a new dimension and became a spirit.

Little did Linda and Dick know that at the time they had placed Jody on her right side with her arms positioned to correct her breathing problem they had placed Jody in the position of  “the sleeping lion,” which is the posture in which Buddha died, according to  “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”, page 250-251, by Sogyal Rinpoche, 1992.

Jody’s peaceful ending was further enhanced by the action of her daughter, Linda. She and her mother had talked about how Jody wanted to leave this world. Jody got her wish. Linda removed Jody’s bedclothes, then washed her mother’s body and gave her a light oil massage. She then dressed Jody in her favorite yoga clothes. Linda combed her mother’s hair, touched up her face, placed her mothers arms crossed over her chest, and lastly placed rose pedals, from flowers that a favorite niece had sent, in her hands and around her head on the bed. Linda then had a special private time alone with her mother. Dick then kissed Jody and wished her well on her spiritual journey.

When the ambulance attendants came they gave Linda and Dick time to say their final goodbyes to Jody. Then they gentled wrapped their angel, now 75 pounds, in warm blankets and carried her down to the ambulance. They carried Jody as she wished, head first, eyes closed with her face exposed to the sky. Linda and Dick walked, arm in arm together, with the gurney to the ambulance. Jody’s eyes opened partially as if to give them a last goodbye.

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ONE LAST SMILE – A cup of coffee story

It was a tradition with Dick and Jody to have one cup of coffee every morning when they got up and were ready for the day’s activity.

On the day before Jody died she was heavily sedated when I got up. The morning paper came early at our place, usually by 5 AM. Today was no different. I always make the coffee and I always make a little extra just in case someone wants more than one cup. Since Linda had been living in our home I made some for her, too, but because Jody was sound asleep, maybe even unconscious, I did not think to bring a cup to Jody. I finished my coffee and read the paper.

When I got into bed next to Jody, Linda was sitting in a chair by the bed, it occurred to me that I had not turned off the coffee pot in the kitchen. I  did not know how long we would be by Jody’s side so I whispered to Linda “Would you go and turn off the coffee pot?” At the sound of my words Jody’s eyes opened wide and she loudly said “I want a cup of coffee!” I was startled yet greatly amused that my possibly unconscious wife was asking for a cup of coffee. I quickly said “Coming right up.”

I promptly got a small cup for Jody and one for Linda. Jody and I always drink coffee black without sugar or milk. Linda, though, had to have milk. Since we never buy milk, Linda said she would have some vanilla ice cream in her coffee. When Jody heard this she said “I want ice cream in my coffee, too.” She has never in her life had ice cream in her coffee before. Well, she got her first cup of coffee with ice cream that day and she loved it.

Linda and I smiled about this. Jody was not sure what we were smiling about, but it was a wonderful moment for all of us.

Dick Hughes

 


 

 

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