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Momma is emaciated and unconscious. Now Dicey knows why Gram brought her to Boston: Momma’s dying.
They stare at her for a while and don’t say anything, but Gram is crying. Dicey’s just trying to comprehend the fact that their mother left them because she was totally falling apart.
Of course Dicey’s angry. There’s no reason for Momma to be dying. Dicey just wants her to come home to Gram’s and see that everything turned out okay.
Momma’s doctor, Dr. Epstein, comes into the room and asks to have a word with Gram. Dicey stays beside her mother, holding her hand and telling her that Dicey and her siblings are okay now.
When Gram comes back in the room, she wants to be alone with Momma. She gives Dicey some money and tells her to go buy Christmas presents for James, Sammy, and Maybeth.
Dicey leaves the hospital with the money. There’s a doctor smoking outside (yep, that's 1982 rearing its ugly head again). The doctor tells Dicey that her mother was malnourished when she got to the hospital, and she never made any effort in treatment. She just showed up ready to die.
Angry at the world, Dicey storms off, heading to a toy store to buy presents. She doesn’t find anything she likes, so she leaves.
Her next stop is a ladies’ boutique, where she buys a pair of gloves for Gram.
She goes to a bookstore to find something for James, and she’s browsing when she has an idea and rushes back to the toy store.
She buys a wooden plane for Sammy, then goes back to the bookstore and buys a music book for Maybeth.
Next stop: a store where everything is made of wood. She wants to buy a chess set for James, but the one she likes is $600, so she settles on a $15 one. She also buys a bracelet for Maybeth. When she spots a wooden chicken, she tells the shopkeeper how her brother Sammy in Maryland wants chickens.
The man asks what she’s doing in Boston, and she tells him her mom is sick.
He tells her that he often tells himself that things are the way they have to be, just like with wood. You can’t go against the grain. Then he asks Dicey if she has a mantra, and she gives him a quote from a tombstone: "Home is the hunter, home from the hill, and the sailor home from the sea." (Note: that's actually from a Robert Louis Stevenson poem called "Requiem.")
When Dicey goes back to the hospital, Gram says she’s spending the night. Preston the nurse offers to walk Dicey back to the motel.
The next morning, Dicey heads back to the hospital to find that Momma is dead. Dicey and Gram hug and say they don’t want to let go of her.
Dicey has the gloves in her pocket, and she gives them to Gram. Gram is angry but grateful at the same time.
Gram puts the gloves in her purse, and she and Dicey head off to make arrangements for Momma’s body.