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  • This is a picture of a pastel painting I made for my mother. It's based on an old black and white photograph of her and her sister, Phyllis. The two talk every day, or at least they did until just a couple of weeks ago.

    I planned to give this to my mother on Mothers Day but she was feeling a little off. She said it was a flu or something. I thought she'd feel better after a few days. So I put it on my night stand where I could look at it as I fall asleep and wake up to it every day. I enjoyed it so much - looking lovingly at my mother and my aunt, so cute together, friends for life. A few days later, she still wasn't feeling well so my sister and I became concerned. There were doctor's visits and tests and results. She passed a stress test easily like (as someone remarked) a woman half her age. Everything pointed to a very healthy, vibrant, young 80 year old. She loved that. Owned it, in fact.

    Over the past year, she and I had gone twice up north to Maine and New Brunswick, following the path of our ancestors, meeting with a couple of her mother's cousins who were still alive and well in their 90's. You see, Mom had had a brush with death only a few years ago. She survived it by the grace of God and a dedicated rheumatologist, one of the best in the world in his field. He told her that based on her current state health and the family history she could easily live to be 100. She felt invincible.

    I stayed over on Sunday night and hung the painting for her in the spot where she would see it everyday. We chatted and laughed and I took her to her appointment the next morning. We were surprised when the nurse practitioner ended the visit with, "So, you're all set for surgery first thing tomorrow". The hospital had somehow forgotten to let her know. "No problem," she said, "this way I don't have time to worry." The only issue they had found was a common condition that could be corrected with surgery.

    She had the surgery and was recuperating well. I saw her the day after surgery and she was bright eyed, looking forward to getting back to normal and on with her summer plans. Early, on the morning she was to be released, she "coded". The hospital, frantic, called my sister to get permission to rush her to surgery. My sister called me. I called the other siblings, We were all there. She didn't make it.

    I took the painting back a week after she died and put it back on my night stand. I look at it every night and every morning. I wonder where my mother is now as I gaze at her and her sister lovingly.
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