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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Rice Pilaf and Pork Tenderloin

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.

8 comments:

Karla MG said...

(((Joyce))) Your family is in my prayers. There's something about strokes lately...my uncle just had one last weekend, and I learned in church today someone else I know had one this week... Be gentle, allow yourself to acknowledge the changes. And yes, it's hard, but still possible to embrace the new while grieving the loss of the familiar, the known...the ways your papa used to be.

Me said...

You have my prayers.

Danielle B. said...

Your previous photo brought tears to my eyes...very wise words from Karla MG...

Joyce said...

that photo always speaks a million things to me. It was taken last summer outside my brother's hospital room, I believe on the day we recognized with some certainty that he would soon die.
My dad grew older that day.

And yes, wise words, to be gentle with oneself. I've already noted beating myself ungraciously for feeling all the wrong things...

it's a gong show... said...

Joyce, I don't even know what to say. You have been through so much in the last year. My thoughts are with you.

Ruth said...

the photo of you mom and dad on your previous post speaks a million words. praying for you.

Anonymous said...

Your words are So Touching ...
describing an experience that has touched this life ... I know the path you are on ... From somone who happened to enjoy the rice pilaf in your absence ... E

Joyce said...

wow, E. Was that a comment?!
Muchos Gracias.