She was frail, small, shrunken upon her wheelchair. But her intelligent large eyes lifted as she saw me enter through the front door. The hospice nurse was wheeling her into a much needed shower, after an hour of her stubborn (il)logic refusing to yield to the cleaning process, the lack of control over small things.
We grabbed hands, hugged, and I kissed her cheek. She then looked at me and said, "Thank you. Sometimes a person doesn't use the chance to say 'thank you' and then they feel guilty, and time passes." And, I told her it had been an honor to know her and that she had been a good mother, grandmother, mother-in-law. A good and faithful servant that God would reward soon. She smiled and cried and was wheeled away.
Her husband related the deterioration struggles to me, and he wept, tired, bone tired.
After her shower, she came back fatigued, barely able to speak, and I rolled her light brown, graying hair for her..
We've had ambivalent feelings about one another in the past. Sixteen years ago, she was my mother-in-law, a complicated relationship bound by the complexities of her son's deep issues combined with my upbringing, and the clash and pain and the ending, all exaggerated perhaps by her (yet, when does a mother stop caring?). However, she proved herself helpful and caring and faithful in regards to her granddaughter. These last years, we have dialogued and prayed more than ever to figure out what we can do to love and work together for her.
The cancer will take over before too long. She watched me with her big, sad eyes, curlers all on her head, as I left. One final look perhaps before she peers over the edge and goes.
I was glad to have been accepted by her at the end. She is a noble person who will be missed. May God grant her serenity and comfort as she departs.