She sent herself to an assisted living facility. One day, she fell and broke her hip. She went to a rehab center and came out stronger than she went in. A year later, she called me: “I met someone,” she sort of whispered. “OK,” I said. “He lives here.” “We’re in love,” she continued. “Just don’t get pregnant,” I said. The nurses giggled when I came to “meet” him. They had caught them in bed the night before. “He asked me to marry him,” she continued. I choked. “What did you say?” I asked. “I’m thinking about it.” She sounded sort of serious. She was on medicaid and you cannot get married on medicaid. “He has some issues,” she said. It turned out that he had a pacemaker, cancer, was blind and incontinent, and was suffering from dementia. My mother had Parkinson’s and her judgement which had always been questionable, now was worrisome. He “liked her voice.” She could not really hear him. She liked that he was tall. He drew her pictures which she scotch taped to her walls. He thought they would marry and move out to their own house. He died of a broken heart. She survived.
She fell a third time and broke her pelvis. That did her in and she ended up in a nursing home. She lasted a year and a half. She died peacefully in her sleep. She was almost 92 years old. She had always hated cats. They scared her the way they crept up. But she herself had had nine lives.
I put the photos of my mother away. I am in my living room, sitting on my couch, looking out the four large windows that are opposite me. I can look out at the street and the passersby and they cannot see me. I had gutted and redone each room one by one. I left the best: the living room for last.