Keith loaded the last box into the van and returned to the house. His mother stood staring out the kitchen window. He approached quietly and wrapped his arms around her. “It’s time,” he said with a catch in his voice.
“I know.” Margaret took a deep breath and used a crumpled tissue to wipe the last of her tears away. Keith knew that her sudden smile was false, but he reciprocated the gesture and led her into the living room. He watched proudly as his mother faced her duty head-on.
Margaret stooped to look into her daughter’s eyes. “Jenny, it’s time for us to get going.”
Jenny didn’t react. Keith kept his smile in place in case she noticed. He silently prayed for his mom as she dabbed at Jenny’s chin with another tissue and began her habitual one-sided chatter.
“It’s a big day for us, Jenny. An exciting day. It’ll take some getting used to, but God’s taken care of us this far, hasn’t He? Just because our circumstances are changing doesn’t mean that God’s care will change. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. You remember that, Jenny. God’s love never changes.”
Keith stepped to his mom’s side and tried to catch Jenny’s eye. She grinned like a child at Christmas when he tugged her ponytail. “Let’s go, Zippy. We want to get you all settled in your new home before suppertime. I know how grumpy you get when you’re late for a meal.” Jenny rewarded him with a snorting laugh. Somehow he’d always been able to tickle her funny bone, even when he knew she didn’t understand what he was saying.
Keith released the brakes from his sister’s chair. He reached for the handles, but Margaret slapped his hands away.
“I need to do this, Keith. You get the door.”
He watched as his mom slowly wheeled Jenny across the living room and down the front hall. Out of Jenny’s line of sight, Margaret’s smile had been replaced by a quivering lip. Gone was any trace of vitality. The weeks leading up to this day had taken their toll on Margaret. She’d known the decision had to be made, and yet she’d put it off as long as she could. Finally Keith had stepped in and made the final arrangements. It had broken his heart to do it, but he knew it was for the best – for his mom and for his sister.
Margaret paused at the threshold and steeled her grip, as if summoning up the strength to take the next step. Keith waited, unable to completely fathom her pain and unwilling to rush her through it. After a long moment, his mom lifted her chin and firmly pushed the chair forward. Keith pulled the door closed and helped to manoeuvre Jenny’s chair down the slight ramp.
At the van, he reapplied his smile. “This is it, Zippy. Your last ride in the old wheel-mobile. Wanna ride up front with me?”
Jenny snorted and slapped her hands on the armrests. Keith took that as a yes and lifted her from her chair into the passenger side of the van. He buckled her in and pecked her cheek. As he closed the door and turned to help his mom, Margaret crumpled into his arms.
“I thought I could do this,” she sobbed. “I thought I’d be strong enough, but I’m not.”
Keith held the frail woman in his arms and repeated the same logic he’d already used countless times. “You can’t take care of her yourself anymore, Mom. Crestwood is the best place for her. You were so impressed with the staff, remember? And the facilities are gorgeous.”
“But it’s not her home. What if she gets scared in the night? What if they give her carrots? She hates carrots.” Margaret brought her hands to her face, muffling her voice. “What if…what if she forgets that I love her?”
Keith gently took her hands in his own. “You’ve taught us better than that, Mom. Now you need to listen to your own advice. Remember what you just told Jenny inside? God will still be taking care of her – and He can do an even better job than you. He’ll be with her every moment. His love will never change, even though our circumstances do. He loved Jenny enough to bring her into our family, and He will love her just as much at Crestwood.”
Margaret gave a sad smile. “Keep telling me that, Son. Now let’s go.”
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