Greetings and salutations, Dear Reader. It is late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Currently, the temperature is 80˚F (27˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 53% and the wind blowing from the east-southeast at 6 MPH (9 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 80˚F (27˚C). Today’s forecast calls for thunderstorms to pass through the area and a high of 92˚F (33˚C). Tonight, we can expect scattered rain showers and a low of 75˚F (24˚C). Today’s Air Quality Index (AQI) is 60, or Moderate.
I have been up since 4:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time. I have no idea at what time I went to bed; I always turn off my phone and my computer before going to sleep to avoid insomnia, so I don’t know how many hours of sleep I got. All I know is that one minute I was asleep – although not too soundly – and the next, I was I was wide awake. With a stuffy nose, at that.
Yep, Dear Reader, I still have what seems to be your run-of-the-mill summer cold. Aside from a dull and somewhat persistent headache, a nose that alternates between a dry, heavy stuffiness and a more, shall we say, fluid runniness, I don’t feel alarmingly sick. I don’t have any of the harsher effects of the flu, much less any symptoms of COVID-19. No fever, no lack of appetite, no difficulties with breathing besides the aforementioned stuffy/runny nose, as well as an occasional – if perhaps a bit violent – fit of sneezing.
I could have used the lost two hours’ worth of sleep, though. I am tired and more than a little annoyed and upset that I’m not at my best right now. If I could, I would lie down on my futon and try to take a nap. Alas, I have only been able to sleep well during the day only a handful of times since I was a toddler, and only under extreme situations.
Do you want to know something bewildering? I can’t remember the last time I hugged my mom. I can remember – in starkly vivid detail, too – much of my mom’s last day alive (July 18, 2015), but I don’t recall when I hugged her for the last time, or if we said anything to each other during that last embrace. I remember patting my mom on the head reassuringly after she successfully swallowed a small pill of tramadol – a painkiller prescribed to ease her pain – following several failed attempts, just as I remember that last look of gratitude and loving recognition before she drifted off to sleep.
My mom and I were not huge fans of constant hugs or displays of affection. I do know that during her last few months I held her hand often, and she gave me kisses on the forehead or the cheeks from time to time. And once in a blue moon, we’d hug each other warmly.
I can’t remember the last time that happened, though. And I think that’s a tragedy.
 Mom was so weak on that last day that it took her six tries to swallow a tiny pill. By an unhappy coincidence, the home health aide we had at the time only worked one hour on Saturdays, and she had already come and gone when Mom called me into her room around noon complaining of an awful pain in the small of her back. The nurse from Catholic Services’ hospice service wasn’t due until 3 PM, and I already had several years’ worth of caregiving experience, so I didn’t panic or feel the need to call my half-sister for help. Looking back on the experience nearly six years later, I’m amazed that I kept my composure and got my mom to swallow that pill. For what it’s worth, that last look that seemed to say “Thank you, Alex” without words is what I remember the most from that long and sad day.