She didn’t want to come to dinner tonight. We coaxed her to join us despite wails of protest. After a few sips of soup, she fell asleep at the table.

Once back in bed, she spouted one-liners, cracking herself and everyone else up. Her new sense of humor catches us off guard. None of us remember a hint of it before.

Last week, my sister Kathi said she was going to the kitchen.

“Do you need a map?” my mother asked impishly.

A few days later, Kathi explained to her over and over why she couldn’t get her out of bed until someone else came to help.

“Wouldn’t you like to see me achieve a little bit?” she asked, scrunching up her nose.

Tonight, people kept passing back and forth at the end of her bed. She lifted her head off the pillow and watched with an expression I call the Swedish long face.

“What’s wrong with them?” she asked. “They can’t decide whether they’re coming or going!”

She tipped her chin back and laughed till she couldn’t breathe. We laughed with her. It felt good like gulping cold water after playing soccer in the middle of summer.

She didn’t last long at the piano tonight, so Mark stood by her bed and serenaded her on his guitar with a couple of tunes.

“It all sounds the same, “she murmured. “It’s all in the key of G.”

As a matter of fact, it was.

She raised her children to value family and music because “those are the things you can take with you.” It seems those are the things that take you into old age as well.

Mark played her a guitar arrangement of “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” by J.S. Bach. That was more to her liking, and she relaxed.

Kathi pointed out the stunning, fiery, tiger-striped pattern in Mark’s Hawaiian koa wood guitar. She lifted her head and examined it closely, then threw her head back on the pillow and whispered, “It’s trying to be beautiful, but can’t.”

We laughed as Mark broke into a tune a about a “rusty old American dream” with a bit of power still left in its “batt’ry.” She directed him with one finger, back and forth, back and forth, until she fell asleep.

February 24, 2017