I would say she was as funny as ever in her final days, except it's not precisely true: She was funnier.
On Tuesday, she again requested coffee. Then she mumbled, "newspaper." I brought in the day's Wall Street Journal (she was an obsessive WSJ reader) and propped it up on her tented legs. She tried to put on her owlish red glasses, but had lost the ability, so I did it for her. For 20 minutes she sat there absolutely still, clutching the coffee, newspaper propped up, sunken eyes closed. It was pitiful, but it was valiant, and it's the last image of my beautiful, exuberant mother that I will remember with any pleasure. After that, all I saw was the cancer.
She died early Friday morning, my aunt and sister holding her hands. She was ready to die -- she'd said it many times -- and I am glad for her that she is free.
I am not glad for myself. I used to call her every day, often more than once. I keep having the urge to pick up the phone, an urge I think is only going to get stronger as everyday life starts up again. Talking to my mother was my everyday life.