4 little words with so much meaning.
At church on Sunday, it means, "Why are you here and she is not? Why hasn't she been here for the last 3 weeks?" This is, of course said with concern and love, just in case something is wrong, but still lightly, and can replied to with a breazy, "Oh she's fine," (and an embarassed inner confusion over the fact that mom really isn't fine, she has a busted knee, but the reason she is not in church is because she decided to go on her annual shopping weekend with the girls, brief mental assessment that they kind of negate each other and "fine" is an alright answer since we are starting to process into the church)
When my mom says it to one of her friends, it means, "We are sisters in looking after our aging parents, I hope she still has some quality of life and that you haven't had to proceed too far into the horror of the medical system." It contains concern for her friend's mother, but also concern for her friend, remembering how hard it was on herself to look after my grandmother.
I didn't think I would have occasion to use those 4 words in the way that my mom says it to her friends until I was her age, but I used them this morning. My childhood friend is back in the neighbourhood this week because her mom (my mom's friend) had major surgery to get rid of the cancer in its earliest stages. They are pretty sure they got it all before it spread, but it was a major surgery. She has come home from out east to help look after her for a couple of weeks until her mom has recovered a bit more.
This is not the first of my friends who has had to come home to look after her mother. I even moved back to Ontario to be closer to my parents when something major happens, and already, my father needs surgery (minor). We are far too young to be having parents that are falling apart. My mom looked after her ailing 90 year old mother. Will I be looking after my ailing 70 year old parents?