The beginning of the end

My mom, Ruth,  was a thinker and a talker. She always had something to say about everything in any social situation. Her comments ranged from arcane to banal, serious to silly, thoughtful to ridiculous. When she was approaching the end of her life, our roles switched. She was the quiet one, and I became the talkative one. I would visit her at her assisted living home each day regaling her with stories from my day.

Ruth was a voracious reader before her eyes went south. Now I routinely read to her, just as she used to read to me when I was a child. The once ‘chatty Cathy” would lie in bed with her eyes closed while I read to her. In fact, I thought she wasn’t listening and had fallen asleep when suddenly she blurted out the correct pronunciation of a famous composer’s last name. “Mahler not Mailer!”, she said. I was so happy she was cognizant enough to be not only listening, but actively correcting me. I have never been so thrilled to stand corrected.

So, one day when this vivacious person finally did go silent, it was as though all the sound and movement of life had come to a standstill. I commented about an upcoming event we would attend that was going to be so much fun. She turned to me with a look of sadness, love, fear, and omniscient wisdom. We stared at each other for the longest time in pure silken silence, yet our locked eyes spoke volumes. I was acutely aware of her pupils. We silently acknowledged that the end was near.  Sure enough, she died withing the next few weeks.

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