Book Excerpt: How Stroke Changed Mommy

Excerpt from “In Stroke’s Shadow: My Caregiver Story

Stroke changes people in unimaginable ways. I wish I knew what was at work behind the most fascinating change I witnessed. For her entire life, Mommy had been terrified of birds – no matter how small. When she was a small child visiting family in South Carolina, a mean, persistent chicken chased her, leaving an indelible mark on her psyche. Birds were forever the enemy – so much so that she wouldn’t watch the Wizard of Oz because of the flying monkeys. ⠀ ⠀

Sweetie & the Mrs.

But when her nurse’s aide introduced her to the parakeet couple in the main living area, Mommy became obsessed. They were colorful and talkative, especially the male. The female loved building nests. She would take slivers of paper that people handed her through the slats in the cage. After carefully tearing them into even smaller strips, she’d take them into their private space where she busily created a home for her family. ⠀ ⠀

For a good long stretch, every single time I visited, Mommy insisted that I take her to visit the birds. They were adorable, but could this be the same person who was terrified by the birds that might fly over her head at Home Depot or Lowes? ⠀ ⠀

When their handler came to clean the cage, Mommy got up close and personal. Some of the staff would even take the male out of the cage and place it close to Mommy. One day, I was treated to the strangest thing of all. Mommy let them put the bird on her head. It walked around on her wig long enough for me to snap a few photos. She smiled and laughed the entire time. There was no sign of fear, not even a wince as his tiny clawed feet balanced on her head as she tried to look up and smile for the camera. ⠀ ⠀

Tags: , ,