Are you okay? I'm fine.
The weekly ritual I had, speaking to my mother over the phone. She was sick, but not that sick. And she really did sound fine. Of course, she wasn't fine. She was dying, quickly, of cancer. At the time, though, I didn't know. I couldn't know.
Eventually, she knew it, though. At that point, she wanted to come home. So I conspired with a friend of hers to bring her home and set her up with home medical care. We drove down to Florida and, my God, my mother looked like a corpse. Her appearance did not match her telephone voice.
The next day we took one last trip to her local physician. After the exam, he pulled me aside. My mother had a day, maybe two, to live. "But she wants to come home, " I argued. I was told that she'd never survive the trip. Getting back to my mother was the inevitable question, "what did the doctor say, dear?"
I try to be direct and honest. When I look away, it is to put the words together so they say what I mean - not to mask my true thoughts. Now was not the time to try deceitfulness. So I told her what the doctor had told me. It was a shock, because I don't think she had really understood her situation. She may have thought she had months, or even years of slow life ahead.
"I want to go home." My task was clear - I was to bring my mother home, whether she survived the ordeal or not. I arranged oxygen deliveries along our route, a room with an oxygen generator at the halfway point, and a place to stay at home. A handful of pain pills, a tankful of gas, and I was making The Drive again.
Mom made it home alive. The next day, she toured her home town by car - and died that night in her sleep.