Feb calendar“Have a nice week.”

That’s my mother’s regular sign-off to our regular telephone conversations.

For many years it made perfect sense. I tended to call her on Sunday afternoons and we’d shoot the breeze until neither of us could think of anything else to say. Most of it was not important, anyway. For most of my adult life, we have lived hundreds—or thousands—or miles apart, so Sunday afternoons was our time to be together.

If something significant happened in between Sundays, I’d call her or she’d call me.

Over time, I knew that our conversations were growing repetitive. She did not always remember she told me that story last week, or last month. Eventually she did not remember telling me earlier in the same conversation. Twice. But we still talked every Sunday and I still looked forward to it.

One of my brothers moved in with her several years ago, so despite her gradual decline, she was safe and happy. Until he passed away suddenly last spring.

Mom lives in an assisted living community now with an array of supportive services. Some days it seems like she is doing well and other days it seems like she took three giant steps back.

She still tells me to “Have a nice week” every time we speak to each other—except that now I call her every day. On the one hand she seems to be expecting my call and answers promptly. On the other, she tells my sister that she hasn’t heard from me in weeks.

I’m not gonna lie. That makes my stomach sink. And then I pick up the phone and call my mother again.

Because whether she remembers is not the point. Whether we have the same conversation for 27 days in a row is not the point. Whether she can remember the names of my children or the state I live in is not the point.

It’s still all about being together over the miles. In that moment, my mother is glad I called. In that moment, her wit shines through with a turn of phrase I didn’t see coming. In that moment she is interested in the highs and lows of my day. In that moment, she sympathizes that I can’t think of anything I want to make for supper. In that moment, she is my mother.

It is not an easy season of my life, but it’s an even less easy season of her life. That does not mean I do not see the beauty.