I’ll see you later. MUCH later.

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My mother called me a couple of weeks ago from her assisted living facility in Ann Arbor. My sister was with her and they used her facetime.

“This is the last time you will see my face.”

“What do you mean?”

“This is the last time you will see my face.”

“What are you talking about?”

My sister said, “Mom says this is her last day.”


“Yes, this is my last day.”

“How do you know mom? Why are you saying this?”

“Everything they do for me is so slow.”

“The people at your home are slow?”

“Everything they do for me is so slow.”

“When did you know this was your last day?”

“When I woke up this morning.”

“Was it a dream?”


“How do you feel?”

“Very sad.”

“You are making me sad. I’m getting all weepy.”

“If this is your last day mom, do you want to see your sister?” my sister added.

“No, I’ll do what they want me to do.”

“You can do anything you want to do, mom,” my sister continued.

“I’m coming in next weekend. We can visit your sister then.”

“Yes. I hope so.”

“Maybe your grandson can come with?”

“That would be nice.”

“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too.”

“I’ll see you next weekend.”

“I’ll see you later. MUCH later.”

In Ann Arbor this past weekend, my mother told me, “We were all at the funeral home last night.”

“At the funeral home? You weren’t at the funeral home.”

“Yes I was.”

“Why were you there?”

“You know, they were getting me ready. The ladies were washing my body.”

“Mom, they do that to dead people. You’re not dead.”

“Jake Stein was there, you know the president of the shul.”

“You may be getting messages from beyond, but mom, Jake Stein died maybe 40 or 50 years ago.”

“And they gave me that pill.”

“What pill?”

“You know— the pill.”

“I don’t know.”

“The pill that takes all your breath away.”

“You mean so that you die?”


“But you’re still here.”

“Alright. Let’s go.”

She and I went out to do lots of errands including getting her hair done, buying birthday and anniversary cards at Party City (her favorite place), and getting toothpaste and other necessities. After I parked in the mall, I opened the front door of the car to help her in her choreography getting to her wheel chair, when she spotted the large stones that had been piled in the cement dividers between the rows in the parking lot, some right outside the car door.

“Oh, wow! These stones are absolutely PERFECT! Honey, pick out four really big ones!”


“To put on the headstones!”

“Mom, we are not at the cemetery.”

She got real quiet and made a strange face, half frustration with me, half frustration with herself.

She called again this morning. “Today’s the last day. I said goodbye to all the ladies today. Everything was normal. They dressed me. I had breakfast. They gave me my pill. Then they gave me 6 pills.”

“The pills to make this your last day?”


“How are you feeling?”

“I’m feeling alright.”

“Then maybe this isn’t your last day. Maybe those pills were for your health not for your last day. But it’s a good idea to live everyday as if it were your last. It makes us all kinder to each other.”

“Well, you are already very kind.”

“Not always. But this philosophy of living each day as if it were your last is a good one. You sound like a wise old Buddhist monk.”

“You know the jacket with the furry collar that your cousin gave me?”


“You take that. And in the metal drawer in the closet are all the papers. Make sure to take them. Put them in your purse or somewhere.”

“I love you mom.”

“I love you too.”

“I’ll call later today to make sure you’re still here.”

“OK, honey.”

And so it goes. My mother is very aware that she is failing, that her 86 years are further complicated by her congestive heart failure and Parkinson’s. She seems pretty matter of fact about it all. She always had a vivid and colorful imagination but it seems like it is in overdrive right now and completely obsessed with her imminent demise. Perhaps we all should be so straight forward about our endings and make sure we have said all our goodbyes and I love yous. Perhaps we all need to learn to trust the machinations of the universe and give ourselves over fully to the wealth of dreams and the inevitable turning of the cosmos.

This entry was posted in aging, death, mother, Parkinson's, transition and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to I’ll see you later. MUCH later.

  1. Jerome Bloom says:


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