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A mother and daughter in San Antonio, Texas, talk about the end of life

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Now it's time for StoryCorps and hard but loving conversations about how to say what you need to say when the one you love is sick. Sixty-year-old Conchetta Brown has COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She uses oxygen to help her breathe. And she came to StoryCorps in San Antonio with her daughter Nidera.

NIDERA: If this was to be your very last conversation, is there anything you want to say to me?

CONCHETTA BROWN: I love you. And I'm sorry I had to die, but I have to go, girl. It was good while it lasted. But I must go.

NIDERA: You act like it's the ending of a relationship.

BROWN: (Laughter). It is.

NIDERA: Well, yeah.

BROWN: It is...

NIDERA: I guess it is, but...

BROWN: ...Because no more mother and daughter. It's just daughter. Mother gone.

NIDERA: But you won't have to worry about oxygen.

BROWN: I know that's the truth. No more medicine. Oh...

NIDERA: No. You just have to slow down.

BROWN: Yeah, I try to do that. And then I forget what I'm doing.

NIDERA: Well, don't slow down that much.

BROWN: But what about you? What would you do? How would you...

NIDERA: If this is my last conversation?

BROWN: Yes.

NIDERA: Yeah, I would tell you the same thing - that I love you.

BROWN: Do you want to be cremated?

NIDERA: Yes.

BROWN: And where you want us to throw you? In the toilet? The garbage can?

NIDERA: No, not the garbage can. All that, and then it made no sense to get me...

BROWN: OK, so sorry.

NIDERA: Just get me cremated and throw me out back?

BROWN: Yeah (laughter). We could use some soil. And, you know, plant a tree.

NIDERA: Oh, yeah. That would be awesome. Something that can give fruit, you know...

BROWN: That can give back.

NIDERA: Yes. Give it back. So for your great-great-grandchild listening to this years from now, is there any wisdom you want to pass on to them?

BROWN: You know, you don't have to be religious to believe in something because religion is what you do every day. And they got a song that say, you don't miss your water till your well run dry. That's why you're supposed to treat people kind while they're alive. And when your well dry, you want to see that person again. But it's all over.

NIDERA: Yeah.

BROWN: You know, we made do, girl. Eventually, I've got to go. And I know it's going to break your heart. I'll be sad that I'm gone because I won't have you to talk to. But it's going to be all right. I'm going to always be with you here.

(SOUNDBITE OF OTIS REDDING SONG, "YOU DON'T MISS YOUR WATER")

FADEL: That's Conchetta Brown with her daughter Nidera in San Antonio. Their StoryCorps conversation is archived in the Library of Congress.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU DON'T MISS YOUR WATER")

OTIS REDDING: (Singing) In the beginning, you really loved me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jo Corona