Flashback April 11, 2015: She appears to be sleeping in the recliner when I walk in the room. I stand a few feet away and watch her. I haven’t been able to visit for a couple of days because of the new “rules.” I’ve missed her. She opens her eyes; sees me. “Hi Punkie,” she says immediately, her voice a little crackly with semi sleep.
“Hi Mom!” I’m surprised and joyful. Not because she recognizes me; that doesn’t matter. It’s her tone of voice and the look on her face – she’s excited. I haven’t seen her express happiness like this in awhile.
“I’m having a nice…Punkie.”
“Eh?” I say.
“Yeah,” she replies. I grin from ear to ear. “How are y–“
She interrupts me before I can finish: “I’m just getting a… I’m just getting a a a a g g g good good good…” The words are irrelevant. She’s glowing.
“You’re having a good time?” I suggest.
“I’m having a good…thing with my…with my…with my…with my two…two fellows.” I answer with a tender “Yes.”
“And they send things. They send things, you know and…” A fuchsia-wrapped box sits beside her. Infrequent visits have suddenly been replaced by regular ones. Is that writing I see on the wall? Something wicked this way comes. A bittersweet pain travels across my chest. The straightjacket tightens. It’s getting harder and harder to breathe. Tick tock, tick tock; the clock marks time.
“Yes,” I say aloud.
“So it’s nice eh?” She says.
“Yes!” I’m upbeat.
“Oh dear.” Blind spots make Swiss cheese of her wisdom, but at some level she too feels the ill will.
“You’re very lucky,” I say to dispel her worry. It’s the truth. Despite everything.
“Very lucky,” she concurs.
“Yeah.” I mirror her delight.
“They they all come to see me,” she says
“Isn’t it amazing eh?” She verbalizes her wonder, joy and gratitude.
“It is amazing,” I agree.
“Yeah, and I’ll come back and they’ll come back to see me.” Hope and certainty hold hands in her mind. My heart remains unbound; I open it and embrace hers.
“Yeah,” I say.
“What good fellows they are…”
“You won the lottery,” I say. She laughs. It’s the sound of music which nobody can deny.