It was mid-morning of Day 2 of the New Year. I had just finished my first work-out of the year after taking New Year’s Day off to rest and spend time with family. New Years Day is our one and only annual “Jammie Day” with Dunkin Donuts, lots of coffee and an evening of black-eyed peas, cornbread, and rice. I was readying myself to sit down to write my second post of 2014. We were looking forward to the week ahead with some planned quiet time for reading, writing, and family bonding until the phone rang.
Out of the blue, without warning we learned that my mom had probably suffered a serious stroke. It was the E.R. physician calling me to tell me my mom was in the Emergency Room and being readied to be transported to a Stroke Center at a teaching hospital after being administered a clot-busting drug. “This is a game-changer”, says Mom later that day.
Who is Mom? She is a fiercely independent woman, married and divorced twice while I was growing up, a born-again Christian and a fighter. She has been side-lined from involvement with her only son and his family for most of his marriage and the births and raising of three children including most of their significant life events by chronic hip pain, fibromyalgia and other idiopathic disorders.
Who is Mom? She’s a fighter. She is a “prayer-warrior.” She is a Bible-devotee. She watches only FOX news. She is a fierce conservative. She’s a faithful church-goer. She describes people she does business with or associates with as “fine Christians.” She gave us all copies of the end-of-times book, The Harbinger, pleading with us to read it and rewarding us with gold plated one-dollar coins for each trivia question we could answer last Christmas Eve.
Who is Mom? She’s a fighter. She’s stubborn and strong-willed and her nurses and doctors are finding that out each moment they spend with her! “You can either cave into this or CLIMB out…I’ve decided to CLIMB out!“, exclaimed Mom. She spoke those words from her hospital bed as she reflected on the thoughts she had on the day of her stroke. She was up walking by herself the day after the stroke and taking a shower while her nurse stood close by. She is frustrated today with some of the limitations some of her nurses want to place on her ambulation around the hospital floor. She wants to go!
Our vacation ended with road trips to and from hospitals up and down our state and unplanned hotel stays. My mom says we went the extra mile. We say “we’re just doing what we do. This is family.”
“What would you say?”
This is the question posed by a Dave Matthews Band song of the same title from the band’s Under the Table and Dreaming album which has to be my favorite DMB album and the question posed to my wife and I as we drove home from the hospital and across the state again. Deep in thought and pondering the meaning of the events that started our New Year, we were stopped in our tracks after we had pulled off the highway to get gas. I asked my wife, “Are you sure you want to stop here? We can probably go another 70 miles on this tank.” She says, “This place has appeared ‘sketch’ at other times we have stopped…” So I rolled into the station.
While I’m pumping gas, something catches my eye sitting on the dashboard of the truck behind me. Could it be? Is it? No?!?
The conversation goes like this with the gentleman pumping gas:
Me: Is that a monkey on your dashboard?
Me: What kind of monkey?
Him: A marmoset.
Me: Is he friendly?
Him: Well…he bites a lot. He just bit me again today (showing me an angry wound on his thumb).
Me: Noticing the monkey’s colorful homemade diaper, I ask: “How long does it take to potty-train him?”
Him: Oh, probably never. We only put a diaper on him when we take him out. At home, my wife just follows behind him and cleans up his mess.
“What would you say?” if you saw a monkey on a string on a dashboard?
Well, this happy incident led to about ninety wonderful minutes of conversation as we drove off listening to and replaying “What Would You Say?” by the Dave Matthews Band and pondering its meaning, what had transpired during the past few days and what meaning and lessons might be wrought from the moment’s experiences as we embark on this journey with my mom as she recovers from her stroke.
You can listen now: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7gXuYFih6Y8&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D7gXuYFih6Y8
Thank you for reading! Wishing you all a great start to the first full week of 2014!