Once a week I take Mom on a trip to the local walmarts. I pick her up at the retirement village, drive her to walmarts where she basically terrorizes fellow shoppers with her nifty motorized cart. Me and the ‘greeter’ are on a first name basis…could he be in love with me? Our friendly relationship annoys Mother. After obtaining sustenance, I unloaded her groceries from my car, and caught the elevator to the second floor. A lovely lady (in her own motorized vehicle…they are de rigueur at the home…or heaven’s waiting room, as I fondly call it) smilingly wheeled up to us. (This is my mom, and this is the must-have scooter)
“O, Kath…..this is my best friend, Z! I’ve been wanting you to meet her.” I immediately remembered Z from a harrowing story Mom related to me a couple of months back.
One icy winter day, Z was riding in her cart near the dining room. She was looking out the large windows at the lovely frozen lake. (At this point you should know, Z suffers the debilitating effects of a stroke. Her speech is impaired-she speaks few words. The left side of her body is paralyzed and she has a nasty scar on the left side of her skull. She’s lost some skills, but she has one of the brightest smiles at the ‘home’.) As she was gazing out, she noticed a lady ‘walker’. Mom and I refer to some of the pre-Alzheimer’s or early dementia folks as ‘walkers’. For reasons unknown to us, these are the most energetic of retirement home residents and they continually stroll the halls, the sidewalks and the paths around the facility. On this cold day, Z saw the lady ‘walker’ drop her purse near the side of the lake. As the lady leaned to pick up her purse, she stumbled and fell totally into the frigid lake.
Z helplessly looked around. No one else saw the incident. No one was there to help. That’s when determined Z took action. She wheeled that cart around and sped back to the closest retirement home employee. Being unable to communicate verbally the frightening incident she had just witnessed, she did the only thing she could. She gripped the questioning employee by the hand and dragged her (with her functioning hand) back to the large windows and pointed to the lady in the lake. All hell broke loose……the lady was retrieved from the lake, the ambulance was called, her blue body was wrapped in warm blankets and she was whisked to the hospital. It was a rough time for the ‘walker’, but she recovered and is back at the retirement home. It was the talk of the town for days and days. Mom and I appreciated the irony that the ‘walker’s’ savior was a paralyzed mute. Black humor is right up our alley.
I spoke to Z in the hall that morning. I told her Mom had told me her courageous story. Z took my hand and placed it on the hollowed-out scar on her skull. “So Z…..you’ve had a stroke AND brain surgery to boot!” A dazzling smile and a uncomfortably loud “YES” with a nod of her head. “Mom tells me you are her favorite person to visit with…..you can’t talk and Mom can’t hear.” Giggles all around and another shouted “YES”. My mom and Z touched hands, exchanged glances and pointed and laughed at one another. “Well Z, that’s quite a story…..you’re my hero for finding and rescuing that walker. Unbelievable…..good for you!”
Z gave me her toothy grin and with sparkling eyes she proudly proclaimed…..too loudly……”I FOUND HER!!”
Indeed you did, Z. Thank God you did.