He took his mother out for lunch at Village Pizza, ordered her a turkey club sub in the oven because she wanted something warm, and he didn't have to twist her arm on the issue of whether or not to order up a glass of white zinfandel. It was pretty clear to the patrons at adjoining tables that the old girl was pretty hard of hearing and, as a result, everyone got quite an earful about his fruitless job search, her recent gallstone attack, and why he thought his heartless sister didn't bother to get in touch anymore.
She talked about the snow that was falling outside as if every flake was falling on her alone, burning its way through however many layers of clothing she put on, and reminding her that each new snowfall might be her last. He only listened and urged her to wipe her chin; did not disagree or try to turn the subject. She occasionally mentioned a name and, before going on, asked him if he or she was still alive, still living up in that old place on the creek road; and he would reply with tactful honesty that no, no, he'd been dead since just before Thanksgiving, had died at his son's house down in the village, didn't she remember?
Clearly she did not. Nor did she recall exactly why her daughter had moved so far away, nor that, even jobless, he was more than capable of paying for their lunch. He was still just a boy. When she reached for her ancient purse, he reminded her that she's left it in the car and said it was alright anyway, he'd already taken care of everything.
Clearly he had.
She took his arm when they left and it seemed to her that she'd never before leaned on anyone quite so solid. She suggested that maybe they could take the high road home, drive past the cemetery.