The Receipt


The other day I was sitting at the table eating dinner. There was a magazine sitting in front of me, one that my mom gave me the last time I was visiting. It looked interesting; it was called something like “Secrets of the Presidents.” I opened it up to a random page. Out fell a piece of paper with my mom’s handwriting on it. There were scribblings of long division on what looked to be the receipt of something. I thought to myself, “what was she figuring?” I looked at the numbers. 53 was the number that she came up with at the end of the equation. Then it hit me. I turned the receipt over. It was an ATM receipt for Doug Doyle. I felt that all-too-familiar hole in my heart, the one that appeared when Doug died. The number 53 triggered the memory of Doug’s last full day. The morning we sat around the table with the Hospice nurse and social worker. They were answering our questions. My mom had been figuring out how many days of “help” from a nurse she could afford to pay with the amount of money she had from a health benefit. I remember her coming up with the number 53. She had 53 hours of help that she could afford. The Hospice workers looked at each other and said, “you won’t need to worry about that at this point.” And we didn’t because he died the following morning.