“I think I’m doing better.”


As I’m scurrying to go back to work after lunch the other day, Mom says something that stops me in my tracks: “I had a conversation with Nurse Blair today. Obviously she doesn’t know since she didn’t see me in Missouri, but I think I’m doing better.”

I think I’m doing better.

Oh, my sweet mama. I listen as she explains what she means: In Missouri, her BFF Linda, with whom she lived after my stepdad died, did much of the heavy lifting, literal and otherwise. Mom no longer had to grocery shop, change her linens, do laundry, that kind of thing. And while it is true that most of her needs are tended to here — we take her laundry home with us, clean her house, change her linens, push her in her wheelchair in the grocery store while she points and tells me to get closer or to stop or to get a different size — she is living by herself for the first time, I think, in 50 years, maybe since her first teaching job. She cooks most of her meals, makes her bed each day, keeps her house tidy.

But all the while I’m listening to her, I’m looking at these tiny frail pipe-cleaner limbs. I have seen her walk the few feet from the dining room to the kitchen and stop to catch her breath. She is in hospice care. She takes lorazepam, and roxanol (morphine), and oxycodone, and a whole host of other medicines for thyroid and heart and lungs. She weighs 75 pounds. That she will not see 2017 I am certain.

“I think I’m doing better.”

If what you mean is that you are putting your entire heart and soul into living however long you have left, you are indeed doing better, my sweet mama. You never missed a beat, picking up and moving nearly a thousand miles away from the only home you had known since 1975. You left your friends and your church and your hairdresser and your Scouts, and you moved right down here and started baking cookies and barking orders and loving us all in that no-nonsense Midwestern take-charge kind of way you have.

I think you’re doing great.

Next post: My mama’s hands

3 thoughts on ““I think I’m doing better.””

  1. I so love her plain Midwestern grit and her toughness. On Monday night she said to me, “I’m ready, Kay, I’ve been ready, but they just won’t let me go.” And just for a flash of a second, I saw a steely grin peep through, as if she were thinking, “I’m not as easy as you thought, you bastards; you governors of death have your hands full with me.” I loved it.


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