March 23, 2015:
“Rooster, rooster why so red?
You can’t get me out of bed!
You can strut and you can crow,
But I’ll just tell you where to go!”
I compose the couplets on the spot for our joint amusement. Rhyming is something Mom loves and can still do. She gets a kick out of it. She smiles and rolls her eyes ever so slightly. I start anew:
“Fig, fig I sat on a pig,
He is small but looks so big.
Don’t look up and don’t look down
Or you’ll end up on the ground!”
This time she giggles at the complete and utter silliness of the words. I imagine she is also laughing at the absurdity of life. Later, we hold hands as she sleeps in the overstuffed easy chair and I read a book of Canadian short stories. She looks like I feel: small, vulnerable and alone. But we’re not, I remind myself. We still have each other. It sometimes appears she’s dead to the world when she’s not, so I check in with her now and again.
“Mom? Are you sleeping?” She breathes a barely intelligible “no.” “OK. I’ll just sit here and keep reading.” Silence from her side. I make good on my promise and finish several more stories before she emerges from her semi slumber again. When I feel her stir, I look up from a tale of someone who cycled across the prairies without getting blown to Kingdom come. Mom’s eyes are open.
“I’m just sitting here holding your hand. Okay?”
“Oh dear. Yeah.” I think she might fall back asleep, but she doesn’t. “I want you to come back home,” she says, her voice cracked and quiet.
“Okay Mom, I’ll come back,” I say. “Why do you want me to come back home?”
“Well, because it’s so much nicer to be there with you and….” she’s having trouble articulating. “I think it’s so much better… it’s so much nicer…”
“I’m here now Mom. And I’m holding your hand.”
“Yeah,” she says. “I’m glad you’re doing that.”
“Can you feel my hand?”
“I can feel your hand.” A pause. “Oh dear.” She sounds worried. I start to sing: “Oh dear, what can the matter be…?” She joins in immediately. She knows the words.
“Oh dear, what can the matter be? Three old ladies got stuck in a lavatory, they were there from Monday to Saturday, nobody knew they were there…”