You’re a feisty old thing, aren’t you!

You’re damn right I am!

Alright, open wide. I’ll try not to spill on your neck.

I stare again through the meticulously clean, brilliant, sun-welcoming windows. There is snow on the ground, glinting, marvelous snow – snow covered in duck tracks. Yes. Duck tracks. I watched the two of them yesterday as they chuckled along, breast deep in trackless white, pecking, diving through to the grass below, somehow able to find food, even in the deep of December that had turned too quickly to the frigid new year.

Ice. Please.

Here you go, Mom. It’s just a few.

Thank you.

We are reduced to this. We are reduced to ice chips and a few drops of juice through a straw. There are no more walks. The views are now whittled to one. The drives – even the short ones – have become too much. We live at the hospice now.

For her, this is entirely, achingly true. For me, it is days only. The staff know that the caregivers also need rest, that without sleep they will soon be at their wits end and unable to cope. So I sleep, uneasy, waiting for a midnight phone call that does not come.

Footsteps emerge through the distant but constant hum of nurses, carts, food trays, and drawn, haunted faces, much like I imagine mine to be. A kindly, fiftyish smile leans close over the bed, nearer so that Mom can see her shape and know that she has arrived.

How are you doing today, Lois?

I’m tired. Why is it taking so long?

You have a strong heart. It might take a few more days.


She is exquisitely compassionate. She is honest. In this place it would do no good to be otherwise.

She is extraordinarily well trained. She is the product of years of study, decades of experience, and a never-ending flow of questions, of tears, of frustration, fear, and acceptance. And every day she brings all of her hard won wisdom, giving freely to those in her care.

Will it be over soon?

I think it will. You’ve done really well but yes, you’re near the end.

Okay. Thank you.

You’re welcome, Lois.

Ice. Please.


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