Cigarettes stained Bea's fingers nicotine-yellow before she gave up smoking, motivated by the desire to know her grandchildren. Tonight the hands seem red. I gently turn them and examine the splotches. Her palms are not my only concern. There is a small red spot on Bea’s left knee, the knee that sent us to the hospital in February. I slop on the bag balm, one half inch thick. It has the consistency of axel grease and smells like petroleum. I have applied the ointment every time I changed her today. For the night, I make a little tent above the knee to prevent absorption of the bag balm by the sheet. If the skin enveloping the knee were a wool cap, it would be several sizes too small. Nurse Jane has provided liquid Tylenol in case of pain, but so far Bea has not mentioned any. She is grateful for the care I give and tells me so with her eyes. How sweet her soul! It makes me sad to see my mother in this condition, body wasting away … Bea has accepted only minimal nourishment and water for over a month. The doctor stopped her meds a week ago. Why do some people just die while others linger? What is the purpose of this special time we have together? How can I help her let go?