Elisabeth's word finding problem was diagnosed as "primary progressive aphasia." In the early stage she was able to work through it with practice and patience, but it steadily progressed into a form of dementia. She slowly lost her ability to communicate, and to interact with her surroundings. She moved from her house into Croasdaile Village retirement community in Durham – first into an independent living apartment, then to an assisted living facility, and finally to a skilled nursing unit where she spent the last six years of her life.
During that time she became a great-grandmother seven times over. It is unlikely she was aware of the new family, even when they came to visit, but she always seemed to brighten up at the sight of a small child.
Elisabeth died in the early evening of October 19, 2011, after 87 remarkable years. Kathy, Marie, and Marie's husband Sam were at her bedside. In the coming months we will take her ashes to be buried beside Henry at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.