Mother was asleep when I came to visit her. Just like she was yesterday. She sleeps a lot nowadays. I pulled up a chair. I hate to wake her so I pulled up a chair in case she woke up during the time I was there.
Her breathing was shallow. She was sleeping hard. So peaceful. So disconnected from my self-important world of ultimately petty cares. I watched Mother sleep. The phone buzzed.
Message from Mississippi: How's Mom?
Me: She's asleep. She's always asleep.
Message from Mississippi: At least you know she is in no pain. She's comfortable. That's good.
Me: Yeah. I guess.
Message from Mississippi: Trust me. It's good. It is as good as it can be.
About that time a nurse's aide came in. Said she needed to dry Mother off. Oh.
"They always sleep after their shower."
" You can come back in when I am finished. She will be awake then."
Phone buzzes again. Do I have time to talk about those releases I have been consulting with those other lawyers about?
Baby, all I got is time. Sure.
Nurse's aide says I can come in. I go in.
I wish my mother Happy Birthday.
"Is it my birthday?" she whispers. She is so weak she has no vocal production. I have to place my head near her mouth to hear anything.
I show her the flowers I bought her. I read the cards that were sent from her friends and relatives. She lies there with her eyes closed, a half-smile playing about her lips.
I stand by the side of the bed. I am leaning on the guard rails.
"85 is a long time Mom" I say. I added it up. It is 85. Thought it was 84. " You were born just after World War I. World War II would get started in Europe 10-15 years after that."
" That is a long time."
" But you know?"
" Happy time for me."
" You were a girl on the farm."
"Um-hmm. She was so pretty."
" I can't talk."
Time for wild guess. "Charlsie?" I asked.
"Yes. We had fun."
Charlsie is her little sister. She didn't recognize her last Saturday. Things have come to that.
" You tired Mother?"
I kiss her cheek.
"Happy Birthday, Mama. I love you."
" You come check on me again real soon, hear?'
"Yes ma'am. I will."
She is asleep before I am out the door.
And I point the car back to Little Rock.