Mary gently placed her hand on her daughter's.
Grace looked up and feebly smiled.
"Lunch was delicious," she whispered. Her father was still regaling a story of him out at sea. It was a story she'd heard before.
Mary stood from the table and, with a subtle flick of her fingers, Grace stood as well.
She took from the top draw some papers, all in her meticulous handwriting. Grace's first thought was 'we should teach kids to write this beautifully.' And then her second was these papers could be the last example of her mother's handwriting.
"Are these clear?" Mary said. A slight tremble in her hand vibrated through the papers.
Grace looked at them one by one. They were detailed instructions on how to load the dishwasher, where to find the vacuum, how to use the washing machine.
"Is there one to tell him how to wipe his own arse?"
"Please, Grace." Mary said. "Think of me for a change."
The rebuke stung.
"Of course," she said. "I'm sorry. They said you won't be in for long, right?"
"In the best-case scenario."
"Well, then, perhaps we need to give the doctors a written set of instructions about how to look after my mother so we get the best-case scenario."
Mary chuckled before the coughing took over.
As Grace rubbed her mother's bony back, she composed her own set of instructions.
Step 1: Get better.
Step 2: Come home.
Step 3: Forgive me.