I visited her for a while this afternoon. She is fed, warm, attended to – and bored. She’s as friendly as always, though, and grins and waves at the ancient humanity perambulating past her doorway. Her room-mate is inattentive and silent, so my mother is free to choose whichever of twelve TV stations most appeal to her.

We talked for quite a while about what she is doing. Her life is difficult to fully appreciate, I think. She resides on or near a bed, and watches television. She needs assistance getting about (right now, she needs help going to the bathroom, but presumably with steady medication she will recover some of her old mobility). She needs help caring for herself; providing meals for herself. This is her life: she sits on or near a bed and watches television. When she’s lucky, people visit – the greatest physical joy left for her.

We talked about her situation back at home, with the man staying in her living room. Like all her situations, she’s neither clear nor decisive about it. She imagines she could perhaps get a small TV, and sit in her own room watching hers while he sits in the living room watching the other – but he’s just an old friend. He’s not a caregiver. She wants, simply and only, for someone who loves her to come live with and care for her.

I will likely see more of her than ever these coming weeks, since she’s about eight minutes away. It’s useful to see her in surprising ways. Her room-mate is mentally unavailable and declining, yet her middle-aged son sits with his mother hour after hour, simply being there. I’ve been researching morality lately, and the fact I’m researching reveals the depth of its absence. For some sons with a thoughtful, engaged, but helpless parent, there would simply be no question. She would come home with me.

And yet I am not clear about that.

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