Her hands were playing with the sheets. They do that when she gets restless. I asked her if she was cold, and she opened her eyes slowly. Gooey gunk had collected along the edges.
“You’re back,” she murmured with a smile. She can’t talk anymore, but she can murmur sometimes, when she’s had a lot of rest. As her caked lips and dry tongue formed her tiny words, I could make out what she was whispering. I leaned over with my ear touching her parched lips. She isn’t even allowed to drink water. That seems cruel.
I sat next to her and showed her Odin videos and her whole body filled with joy. Her day brightened and eyes opened wide. I told her about my trip and how much fun I had taking Odin to the zoo, and the farmer’s market. How it poured and how Odin and I ran to find a dry spot under a tray of tomatoes, and how he loved the rain and putting his fingers and toes under the drops that fell from the red round balls.
I gave her the news about the tube. I didn’t want to make it sound sad, I just delivered the news like it was the next step in the process of living with Parkinsons.
“What’s this disease that I have?” My mom has always had a great memory so I thought she must be disoriented and was asking why she was in the hospital… “You have aspirated pneumonia, mommy”
“No what’s the disease they can’t cure?” she murmured.
“Oh, you mean Parkinson’s?”
She listened carefully, and after a long pause she murmured, “well the good thing is that we won’t have to pay the Village for my food anymore.”
We laughed. “True, true mommy. That’s a great way to look at it.”
“And my insurance will pay for my tubes of food.”
We smiled at each other, knowing that she was trying so hard to be positive.
She went on to murmur, “We’re lucky that the government is paying for my bills. Tell your children to keep working hard.” And we laughed some more.
“I’m really lucky.” she added. “When is Odin coming to visit?”
I couldn’t believe all the words she was speaking! I was having to do a lot of guessing, but I think I was getting most of it.
“Next week! And Tai, and Chih, Ren and Riki…They’re all going to be visiting.”
Her eyes got big, and I could tell she wanted to dance.
“Hey, maybe you’ll have more energy now that you won’t have to be spending so much time chewing and swallowing. Maybe you’ll have more energy to talk!”
She smiled big, and said, “Maybe I can even learn how to sing!”
“Maybe we’ll ALL learn to sing!”