After her long, laborious, perilous journey to town, Phoenix is able to get the "soothing medicine" her grandson needs for his throat. As the nurse explains to the attendant at the desk, "his throat never heals" because he "swallowed lye" two or three years ago. Old Phoenix, or "Grandma" as the nurse calls her, is a "charity case," so when she comes to town, she is given medicine if she needs it.
As Phoenix explains to both women, her grandson
"is not dead, he just the same. Every little while his throat begin to close up again, and he not able to swallow. He not get his breath. He not able to help himself."
It is at these times that Phoenix, despite her advanced age and senility, makes the long trip to town, pushing her old body to its limits along the way. This journey shows her extreme determination, persistence, and perseverance, as well as her love and devotion to her grandson.
On this particular visit, Old Phoenix not only gets the medicine, but a nickel from the nurse since it is Christmas. With this nickel, as well as another that she has in her pocket, Phoenix sets out on another leg to her journey before the long walk home, this time with the intent of buying a gift for her grandson. Showing her thougthfulness and generosity, she says:
"This is what come to me to do.... I going to the store and buy my child a little windmill they sells, made out of paper. He going to find it hard to believe there such a thing in the world."
And so she sets out again, her love for her grandson urging her on. Like the mythological bird after which she is named, she cannot be kept down.