Missouri Life’s longtime columnist, Lorry Myers, is facing the heartbreaking reality that her mother, Bette, is not coming home (not yet). Her columns range from gut-busting funny to heart wrenching. One thing they are for sure, is real.

By Lorry Myers

HER HEAD DROPPED WHEN SHE HEARD WHAT THE DOCTOR SAID. My mother had spent more than a few days in the hospital, and every one of those days she asked to go home, just like she did on this day. Bette Baker Sewell is 91 years young, clear of mind, full of boundless positivity, and fiercely determined to stay that way.

Mom lives at home but no longer drives, nor ventures out on her own. She graduated from a cane to a walker, and after a few incidents she doesn’t want to talk about, there is now a wheelchair in her living room. Mom has accepted all of this with stubbornness, insisting that she is fine.

She is just fine.

Only this time, she wasn’t. When the doctor told her she was too weak to go home, my mother under- stood what that meant. Her initial reaction was unguarded, but it only took a moment before she straightened, smoothed her hair, and thanked the doctor for her care.

“And,” my mother said, remembering her manners, “you have beautiful eyes.”

Bette is the last of seven brothers and sisters, and the last of many, many friends. Mom doesn’t com- plain; she doesn’t judge. She gives to her church and gives of herself, always asking what else she can do. My mother raised six children and still carries the heartache of losing two before they were born. She survived breast cancer, the death of her husband, and health challenges that only slowed her down.

Now this.

While Mom complimented the doctor on her shoes, I just sat there. Even though I knew what the doctor was going to say, it was hard to hear it. My mother is 91, and my family has worked so hard to help her stay at home. I know a nursing home is not what she wanted, but Mom needs skilled care that we cannot provide. This is temporary, I told myself. This isn’t forever.


Once she was settled in her new room, Mom looked around and told me it was nice. Her voice said some- thing else, and in her eyes I could hear everything she wasn’t saying. It was as if she was reviewing every moment of her life to see how she got to this place—a place she never thought she would be.

“Mom,” I said, borrowing some of her positivity. “Everyone is so good here, and it is just until you are stronger.”

“I know,” Mom said with a knowing smile. “It’s only for a little while.”

I stayed until the nursing home lights turned down and my mother shooed me away. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave her even though she was in the best place for her to be. I’ve been a fortunate child, blessed with a mother who made aging look easy. But Mom is tired. I know she is tired, and she misses her independence and her husband. In reality, I am tired, too. Anyone who cares or provides for someone else knows the constant worry that comes with that responsibility. Mom is ready to go. She has told me many times. She is ready.

I am not ready at all.

When I left my mother in the nursing home that first night, she reached for my hand. “You’ve been a good daughter, and this is no reflection on how you love or care for me. I am going to be fine, and you will be fine, too.”

Only, I wasn’t. I barely made it to the parking lot before I bawled like a baby.

Bette’s daughter

Read another column by Lorry, here.

Article originally published in the July/August issue of Missouri Life.