HOKE: You know, I think you're the best widow in the state of Georgia.
Hoke compliments Daisy for taking such good care of her husband's grave. There they are at the cemetery together, planting flowers and looking after Mr. Sig. Daisy returns the compliment by assuring Hoke that he can learn to read and giving him his first lesson. It's a friendly scene for sure, but Hoke's only there because he drove her there.
DAISY: I was thinking about the first time I went to Mobile. It was Walter's wedding. 1888.
HOKE: 1888! You were nothing but a little bitty thing.
DAISY: I was 12. We went on the train. Oh, I was so excited. I'd never been in a wedding party. And I'd never seen the ocean. Papa said it was the Gulf of Mexico, not the ocean, but it was all the same to me. I asked Papa if it was all right for me to dip my hand in the water. He laughed because I was so timid. And then I tasted the salt water on my fingers. Isn't that a silly thing to remember?
HOKE: No sillier than what most folks remember.
Another friendly exchange. Daisy confides a memory that we sense she might not have ever shared with anyone before. You can see their relationship deepening, at least from Daisy's side.
HOKE: Invitation to this here dinner come in the mail a month ago. Now, if did be you wanted me to go with you, how come you wait till we in the car and on the way before you asked me? […] Well, next time you want me to go somewhere, you ask me regular.
Even though Miss Daisy and Hoke are friendly, you can see the limits of the relationship. She's still not ready to cross that line of being seen with a black man in public as an equal, regardless of her warm feelings for him.
HOKE: I figured your stove was out, so I stopped by the Krispy Kreme. I know you got to have your coffee in the morning.
Bringing someone Krispy Kreme donuts is the best thing a friend can ever do. Ever.
DAISY: I can fix her biscuits. And we both know how to make her fried chicken. But nobody can make Idella's coffee.
Hoke and Daisy are grieving together about Idella, another person who Daisy's had a long, long relationship with. She was totally comfortable with Idella, but Idella was only at her home because she worked for her.
DAISY: Eat anything you want out of the icebox.
My my, Miss Daisy has come a long way. She's offering Hoke food as if he were a guest. Before, she didn't want him around because he'd eat her stuff.
DAISY: Stay home, Boolie. Hoke is here with me.
BOOLIE: How'd he manage that?
DAISY: He's very handy. I'm fine. I don't need a thing in the world.
BOOLIE: Hello? I must have the wrong number. I never heard mama say loving things about Hoke.
DAISY: I didn't say I love him. I said he was handy.
Miss Daisy wouldn't ever admit that she loved Hoke, but she clearly does. You can see that she thinks of Hoke as her best caregiver; he feels secure with him.
HOKE: Now, how you know how I can see less'n you can look out my eyes? Hmm?
Hoke gives Miss Daisy a lesson in empathy about, oh, eighty years too late. But if she tried to put herself in his shoes sooner, she might have understood him many years ago.
DAISY: Hoke. […] You're my best friend.
HOKE: Go on now, Miss Daisy.
DAISY: No, really. You are. You are.
HOKE: Yes, ma'am.
Daisy's clinging to Hoke for comfort when she's confused and terrified. She realizes how much she needs him and calls him her best friend. Why does he say "Go on now"? Is he trying to reassure her that she has lots of friends? Is he not feeling it himself? Is he being cautious?
DAISY: Is Boolie paying you still?
HOKE: Every week.
DAISY: How much?
HOKE: Now that's between him and me.
DAISY: Highway robbery…
HOKE: It sure is. It sure is.
DAISY: How are you?
HOKE: I'm doing the best I can.
DAISY: Me, too.
HOKE: Well, that's about all there is to it then.
This has got to be one of the sweetest, most tear-jerking scenes onscreen. Hoke visits Daisy in the retirement home, and they go through their old "highway robbery" routine and commiserate about getting old and getting by. Daisy fumbles with her fork trying to eat her pie, and Hoke helps to feed her. Roger Ebert called this "a luminous final scene in which we are invited to regard one of the most privileged mysteries of life, the moment when two people allow each other to see inside" (source). It sure looks like old friends.