I heard her crying softly as I passed the bedroom door.
So, I stepped inside and asked if she was OK - something I’d asked hundreds of times before.
At first, she didn’t hear me. She was lying on her side facing the window, her head elevated slightly by the hospital bed.
Trailing away from her was a long slender tube connecting her to the sturdy little machine beside her bed noisily providing the oxygen her body so desperately needed.
I moved closer and asked her again: "Are you OK?"
"No", she replied clearly agitated. "No, I’m not."
"Is there something I can do? Are you cold? Would you like something to drink?"
"No, I just don’t feel right. And I wish," ... her voice trailed off.
"I wish I could talk to my mother. There are so many questions I’d like to ask her. I just wish I could talk to her now."
"Well, she’s not here, but you can talk to her all the same. You can talk to me too."
Taking a chair, I pulled it close to the bed and reached for her hand.
"Oh my, your hands are so warm."
She gripped my hand tightly and closed her eyes.
I asked, "What do you want to talk about?"
She sighed and put her other hand on mine. "I just wish I felt better. I feel so useless in this bed."
I reached over and picked up her water glass and said, "Would you like a sip of cold water?"
"Oh yes, please."
And then she began to talk.
She talked about how much she missed my father, dead some twenty-two years, and how she thought we shouldn’t have sold the ranch after he died.
She talked about houses we’d lived in - some she liked and some she didn’t.
Places we’d lived - some she liked and some she didn’t.
She talked about meeting my Dad in the hospital where they both worked the late shift and how he could always make her laugh.
She went on to talk about friends she hadn’t seen in awhile and family members who’d passed on. She really missed her dog, she said.
"That dog was so much comfort to me after your Dad died."
She loved Galveston where they lived as newlyweds when he was in Medical School. Like most young couples, they didn’t have any money.
But then again, they didn’t need any - they had books, they had the beach, and they had each other.
Gradually, she wound down. Her voice, always soft, faded into a whisper as she drifted off to sleep.
That was the last time I saw my mother smile or heard the sound of her laughter. She passed away the very next week while I was far away in another state.
My sister and my youngest brother were with her and I am grateful for that.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about her a lot. She would have been 96 this November 5th.
Thanksgiving was always her favorite time of year because we all would come back home to eat Thanksgiving dinner at her table. I remember lots of family time, laughter, and many meals shared over the years.
This year is no different.
I’ll be sharing Thanksgiving with my wife, her sister, a nephew, a grandson, daughter and son-in-law. There will be turkey, ham, pumpkin pie, and stuffing enough for everyone.
I know we’ll have a wonderful time and I’m very thankful that we’re all safe and well.
But if you were to ask me if I’m doing OK, I’d have to say not really. And no, there’s nothing you can do.
I just wish I could talk to my mother.