Last night I called my mother, just to check in with her. She’s 89, on oxygen, barely ambulatory. She asked how I was doing.
I said: “Not that great.”
She said: “Well, I’ll cheer you up. I can always cheer you up. I’ve been awful sick all day today.” (She went on to recount her woes that I won’t share—suffice it to say she had digestive upset.) “And I’m awfully lonely. I was supposed to visit with Mae today but I was too sick. I just don’t have any friends here. Well, there was Shirley, but she died. My friend Ruth down the hall was very friendly, but she died. My neighbor Joan with the one leg died, poor thing. And Mr. Miller liked me, but did you know he died too? And I really don’t think I have much time left to live now. Oh, but I’m supposed to be cheering you up. How’s your cat?”
I replied: “Mom, my cat is dead. She died before Christmas.”
She said: “Oh, I didn’t remember that. What happened?
So I had to explain my cat’s illness and death. Again. That really helped to lift my mood. Then she started asking me why I don’t ever bring her to my house to stay. “All the stairs, Mom, you can’t do the stairs. I think I’m going to have to hang up now.”
She replied: “No, no, don’t hang up. I want to talk to you so I can cheer you up. Did you know Joe Donahue died?”
At that point we both laughed at the absurdity of the situation. All that death can be pretty funny after all.