We drop by with leftovers to share with her for supper. Her front implants recently broke off, and chewing is slow going. I spoon feed her small bites of blended rice casserole.

She reaches for my hand and squeezes the stone on my wedding ring. It’s a new ritual.

“I had one of these once,” she says wistfully. “It was stolen when I shipped it overseas with our other things.”

None of us knew she had a ring until recently. It wasn’t the sort of thing a missionary wore back then. Now she speaks of it often, and her eyes light up, then grow sad each time she touches mine. She misses him.

She starts chewing again, then stops and opens her eyes wide. “There comes a time when you just can’t swallow another bite,” she says.

I wipe her chin. “How about some peach pie?”

“Oooooh!” she purrs. “I can always chuck down a little pie!”

Chuck down a little pie? I’ve never heard her say that before. I laugh out loud.

I remember the first time I noticed her eating dessert and actually enjoying it. I was 10 years old. We were on a road trip across British Columbia. She and my dad shared a milkshake at a little diner where we stopped for lunch. Two separate straws, of course.

It was like finding out for the first time that your parents are more than just friends. Parents aren’t supposed to enjoy dessert.

I smile thinking of all the other pieces of pie she “chucked down” over the years when I wasn’t looking.

February 21, 2016