“Hellooooo!” I say as we round the corner into the living room at around 3:00 p.m. “Look who’s here Mom.”
“Who’s here?” Mom says.
“It’s Shirley!” I’m delighted because Shirley is such a gift in Mom’s life, and mine too. We rendezvous in the living room most days around teatime. One of Shirley’s daughters or sons frequently accompanies her. But Shirley is alone today. Last month, Mrs. T. might have been here too; she passed away a couple of weeks ago. We miss her. Mrs. T. was always kind, gracious and forgiving with Mom, and she and Shirley used to do jigsaw puzzles together on the third floor. They’d known each other for seventy years.
Shirley is standing in front of her usual chair holding up a dark blue and khaki-coloured scarf she’s working on. The scarf’s about as tall as she is–at least five feet with her sneakers on. When Mom and I roll in things perk up.
“Hello Shirley,” Mom says. Sometimes Mom calls Shirley “Shirl,” which makes Shirley feel special because only one other person in her ninety-two years has called her Shirl. But even when that doesn’t happen, Shirley’s pleased to see us.
“I already wished you happy birthday Patti, but I have a birthday card for you too,” Shirley says as she hands Mom an envelope.
“Yeah, that was a birthday card for me,” Mom says. “My God, that’s good.”
“You’re lucky eh Mom?” I laugh.
“Yeah, I’m the lucky fellow,” she says.
“I’m glad,” Shirley smiles.
“I’m the luckiest fellow,” Mom says with a big grin on her face. She holds the card in her hand, not sure what to do with it.
“Are you going to open the card Mom?” I ask. She looks at the card, does nothing. It’s a brain processing issue. She’s not able to initiate the process of opening the card.
“La la la la la la la look look look look look look look look to see to see to see to see to see oh tiss,” she says urgently.
“Yeah!” I agree. “Shall I help you open it?” I take the card out of the envelope. “Awwwwwwww,” I say as I hand it to her. I miss the mark on my tone of voice and she thinks there’s something wrong.
“What happened?” She’s a little alarmed. The card is trimmed in yellow with white polka dots.
“Look at that nice little kitten Mom,” I say, this time in a calmer, more positive tone.
“Nice little kitten…kitten kitten kitten kitten kitten kitten kitten kitten kitten,” she says.
“Yeah. It’s blowing out the candle on its birthday cupcake.”
“Oh gee! Isn’t that awful?” Sometimes aphasia causes her to say the opposite of what she means.
“Can you read what it says Mom? The kitten is blowing out a candle, and it says: ‘Make a wish!’”
“Make a wish,” Mom says. And, as if on cue, someone brings a wish into the room.
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