I let her go on and release the pent up frustration. Yep, that sounded like Leslie. My entire life had been dealing with her pointing out how much prettier she was than me and much thinner.

Mary paused. "I shouldn't say all this."

I couldn't help the laugh that escaped me. "Why not? It's not like you are lying."

"I know, but..."

I cut her off. "Please, there is nothing wrong with venting or telling the truth. We all know how she is. I got it as soon as I landed."

Mary frowned. "What happened?"

I chuckled. "I was informed how overactive you were being as Mom wasn't that bad."

"What?" Mary sat up straight. "She's in hospice. She's..." Mary trailed off.

"Yep. Then on the drive here, she demanded I tell her if I was Republican or Democrat."

Mary rolled her eyes. "Her and politics."

I just nodded.

"How did you answer?"

Laughing, I said, "I told her I didn't associate with either party. Then she launched into how Hillary was the best choice and Trump was of the devil."

Mary joined me in laughing.

It sounded good in the room awaiting death. Laughter was good. It relaxed us. It pushed tension away. It fought the darkness.

As it became apparent that Mom was sound asleep, we each took turns in the bathroom getting ready for bed. When Mary was in the bathroom, I arranged my suitcase to be out of the way and got my bags gathered next to it.

Mary came out and quietly put away her clothes. She seemed a little more relaxed now that she had dressed down to her pajamas and washed her face.

"I need a drink and a snack. Do they have any vending machines?" I felt her eyes narrow as I searched for money in purse.

"When did you last eat?"

I tilted my head as I thought about it. "That was several hours ago, in the airport. Grabbed a value meal. Not healthy I know."

Mary shook her head. "You need more than a vending machine. They have some sandwiches we can get. Come, I'll show you where it is at the nurse's station."

On the way down the hall after closing the door quietly, Mary explained how the nursing home had been taking care of them. Each morning they brought in coffee, juice and water for the family. There were sandwiches and jello cups in the nurses' station that they could access.

As it was so late, there were only three nurses on hand and only one of them was in the station. The others appeared to be checking on patients. The one on the desk gave us a quick smile as she worked on her computer, entering the notes from the day.

In a small refrigerator, we found half a dozen wrapped sandwiches. I choose a turkey one and a small red jello cup. A spoon was located in a cup on top of the unit. With food in hand and Mary holding a jello cup as well, we made our way back to the room.

Silently, we entered the room. We hadn't even talked in the hallway. Mom was still asleep and appeared to be resting. Mary took up her place in the chair next to the bed. I grabbed a bottle of water that was on the small table and sat down on the couch.

We were silent for several moments. I began to eat the sandwich which was adequate. It all felt...strange. It wasn't that it was because Mom was in a hospital bed. She had had many surgeries over the years for various reasons. Yet she always rebounded and was back to normal soon.

It was odd to sit there, knowing she was dying. I wasn't so disillusioned that I thought she would never die. She was mortal. We all aged and passed on. I knew the day would come. I just didn't want to face that day.

This reluctance was more than just losing her. It was also a realization of my own mortality. When one's parents have left this earth, then one moves up to be theoretically the next in line. We step up to the plate. This would be my last parent to leave me. There was no other generation above me. At forty-five, I was ready to face my mortality.

Well, maybe I wasn't being that morbid, but it was an awakening for me. Life was changing. Family was changing. My two sisters were already grandparents. My own children were becoming adults and making lives of their own. With Dad gone and Mom leaving soon, there was no imagining of still being a child or young enough to lean on one's parents. They would not be around for that. No longer could I be in that position and call on Mom for help.

The comfort was that I had done little of that over the last few years. We had grown distant. Whose fault was that? Mostly Mom's. Now here I sat wanting to spend the last moments with her. Maybe I was hypocritical. That would be something for me to think about. 

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