You're in the middle of serving up a plate of wild rice pilaf, pepper medley, and rosemary pork tenderloin for a houseful of friends when the phone rings. You often ignore the phone, as its intrusive and should be taught to wait, but this time that urgency within you sets the dinnerware down and picks up the phone. Mom is nearly whispering for help as she is propping up dad with one arm and employing the phone with the other. He insists that he is fine, that their card game should resume, for he is tired and wants to go to bed. There is a dripping of saliva from the flacid left side. Mom urges him to use his tissue, which he does.... wiping the right. Mom is afraid that he'll fall off his chair, as his body no longer recognizes signals from the left side.
We eat rice pilaf and pork for supper the following day, our stomachs clenched at the change in our dad, and hoping he'll rest well in the bed he's been given. We're grateful that the stroke was "not really a stroke", but more of a foreshadow of what's to come. We hope that the staff will notice when he wanders off the ward, goes outdoors, or laughs in a manner never heard before by us. We note that he's had trouble finding the washroom, though he'd used it the night before to brush his teeth, and its a mere four feet from his bed. We wrap ourselves around our strong and determined mother.
Papa insists that he is fine, and indeed his physical body supports the theory. For Mother's day, he is at home and able to enjoy dinner with his offspring and theirs. He laughs too loud , too often. Mama looks lovingly concerned and steals little shakes of her head for us when she is sure he isn't looking. We whisper to one another, wondering if the changes we see could be our imagination? Should we spend another night?
The dinner has become more familiar now, but the rice is wild and delicious, and somehow difficult for us to swallow.