The last time we talked in person was on your 70th wedding anniversary. Mama had bronchitis on top of the leukemia, but we wanted to see you, if only for a short visit. Your physical rehab was going well enough that they had talked of sending you home earlier in the week, but you suddenly developed pneumonia again. That was what had put you in the hospital two months earlier, but you fought through it.
Your back and legs were not painful now, as they were before you got sick, your mind was a lot clearer, but you’d lost the ability to get up and down. That frustrated you.
When we visited daily at the hospital and later at rehab, you talked about your brother Boykin and his wife Leila. He had advised you about property inheritance and you wanted me to make sure the county couldn’t take your property to care for you. I assured you we had handled that. You asked me about my job and my finances, and I told you both were great.
Your Mama and sister Ruth had been by – you told one of the staff members that’s who we were one time. Maybe you were a little confused. Your brother Andrew had also talked to you recently. While some people may have thought you had imagined these visits from family long passed, I knew they were real, and I should have seen what was coming next.
We had brought a shiny balloon printed with “Happy Anniversary”. Our visit didn’t last long because Mama was tired, and sad that you were not home. I tied the balloon to a chair near your window. You kissed Mama and you said “I love you” to each other.
You asked me to bring your cane from home the next day, because you were going on furlough for two days to come see us. I hugged you, and you looked at me, your brown eyes clearer than they’d been in several years and said, “You take care of your Mama”. I told you that I would.
It shouldn’t have been a shock when David called me at 5:30 the next morning, after the Rehab staff had notified him that you had ‘expired’ during the night. Little do they know you simply went on furlough.
I write. I fix computers. I feed cats.