Alberta rose just after dawn, finished off two cups of tea, and proceeded down the back path to the open country beyond.  She hadn’t taken this route as much in recent weeks because of all the preparations she had undertaken in light of her prognosis. Having Robin at home with her made all the difference.  He had been attentive, non-intrusive, and a joy to be around, with his dry sense of humour. Unlike Jennifer, he hadn’t felt the need to press his mother about her feelings or plans; it was enough for him just to be her companion. It took her a moment to unlatch the wooden rail gate that opened up into the valley beyond those houses, like hers, that backed onto a more natural world.  Eventually, she…