Rolling her little red walker with wheels on each side, a 95-pound, 95-year-old woman opens the door to her daughter’s bedroom in Kingsland, Texas.
“Time to get up, Leta,” she said.
Time to fix Mom’s Boost shake with the scoop of ice cream blended in for taste.
The elderly woman felt her daughter’s heel when she didn’t respond. It was cold. It was “strange,” she said.
Instinctively, she knew more than her heart was willing to admit.
Leta, the one person who was always there for her Mom, my mom, was dead.
Mom had seen it all, endured it all, and somehow survived it all for most of a century. She was tough. Very tough. Maybe not this tough.
In this moment, standing alone in a 2,000-square foot home with her daughter, my sister, lying cold and motionless on her bed, mom was as frightened as a small child waking from a nightmare.
When I arrived hours later and looked into my mother’s eyes, I saw terror coming back at me for the first time in my life. It was my time to hold this small, fragile woman, and to reassure her.
“What am I going to do,” she asked as the tears flowed.
“Everything will be OK, Mom,” I said with more conviction than I possessed.
She had managed to push her walker to the front door that morning, to open it and to flag down some driving by help.
She hadn’t even noticed the Meals on Wheels people walking up with her lunch tray at the same time.
They saw what Mom saw and dialed 911. Within minutes, EMS arrived, as did the county sheriff’s department in this small scenic retirement/resort near Lake LBJ in the Texas Hill Country.
For the next seven hours, she waited for the only other surviving member of our nuclear family to arrive.