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Each morning when mom gets up she asks, "are we still on lock down?" Sometimes she calls it "lock up" but the reference to being imprisoned is the same. 

I slip the vanilla flavored coffee pod into the Keurig, listen to the coffee maker slurp and gurgle, and anticipate her next question. Each morning pretty much starts the same. I get up first, mom soon follows. She asks me to put on the news. I start her coffee. The brown liquid streams into her favorite mug, the one that says "I'm a Dog Person" on it. A puff of steam rises. I think how I like the smell but not the taste of coffee. Mom always told me I should learn to drink a cup of coffee each morning. One day I finally asked her why the insistence on my having a morning cup of Joe. Turns out she was only interested in my being "regular". I add a packet of sweet 'n low and pour in enough vanilla creamer to turn the liquid the color of a tortilla. I bring the mug to her.

She takes a sip. "Delicious."  

Everything tastes delicious to mom. Lucky.

As I anticipate her next question, I wonder how much to tell her. She has always been straight up with me, and I've always tried to do the same with her. I remember when a friend asked to borrow a few hundred dollars from me. I had it, could afford to lend it to her, and my friend needed it more than I did. But I worried if lending money would ruin our friendship. I asked mom what to do. She said lend it to her, but have no expection of being paid back. Solid advice. 

Then there were the phone calls.

"Hi Mom," I'd say.

Without a hello back, mom would launch into a story, usually starting in the middle and typically about a mundane appearing event that brought her joy or tsuris. Something about a clerk at the Mac counter who remembered the shade of her favorite lipstick or how she had treated herself to a whopper with extra cheese after a hard day at work or a rant about crazy drivers on Pines Boulevard. 

She takes another sip of coffee and looks up at me. "Why am I here again?" 

Six people have died at her nursing home. Nineteen are sick. Mom and I know several of the people who have died or who are ill. One man in the hospital regularly ate dinner with mom and her friends. Mom had lunch with the man's wife, who is infected but not hospitalized, two days before she came to stay with me. We attend shabbat services with another woman who is hospitalized. I tell mom the truth. 

She sips her coffee and listens. A few moments later she says, "it's a terrible time."

"Yes, it is," I respond.

"I feel sad."

"So do I."

"I'm glad I'm here."

"Me too."

She adjusts the blanket over her lap. "We're fortunate to have each other. Is Blue Bloods on?"

I smile and change the channel to a marathon of her favorite TV show. She becomes transfixed. Lucky. 

 

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Joanne Lewis Blog