She’s already seated when I get there,
and dinner underway.
I take my place at the table
and the aide brings my plate.
The dining room is quiet today.
Her tablemates are into their meals.
No chit chat. No scolding.
Mom complains she’s not hungry
as she steers the fork to her mouth.
Soon she’s wheeling herself from the table
and we’re face-to-face in her room.
“I have so much to tell you, so much on my mind,” she says,
but it doesn’t come.
So we sit.
Her left hand shakes a little
and she looks older than she did last time.
I tell her, “You’ll be 90 next month, mom.
What do you want for your birthday?”
“Nothing,” she says.
“You want a party with cake?”
“No party? “
“I think of my old friends all the time, she says.”
“Who?” I ask.
“Can’t remember,” she says, shaking her head.
I wheel her to the sink and help her brush her teeth,
clip her nails and file them down.
I have to concentrate, because they’re tough;
I nicked her last time.
Then I squirt some hand cream into her palm
and tell her it’s time for me to go.
“Not yet,” she insists.
“Five more minutes,” I say,
“Are you ready for your nap?”
“You don’t want to stay,” she sulks.
“I’ve got an hour’s drive, mom – five more minutes.”
We look at each other… just sitting there,
little smiles of sympatico on our faces,
and I wonder how many more times
I’ll be able to sit with her like this,
just breathing the same air.
How many more visits.
Finally, I get up and give her a big kiss, cheek to cheek.
“I love you,” she says.
“I love you,” I say.