Last night the stars fell down and landed on my mother’s fingertip, specifically her right index finger where her dream occurred. This morning, she lifts her hand and points her index finger toward the bathroom ceiling, as I ready to remove the food lodged between her gums and inner-walls of her mouth. Since the stroke, she’s unable to sense sandwich-sized crumbs or meatball-round particles that take up residence there. If food goes down the wrong tube, it can settle in the lungs and grow bacteria that cause aspiration pneumonia. My mom suffered a massive stroke two years ago, and all I remember is keep her mouth clean. And gently brush her tongue and have her sip water after using a steroid inhaler, otherwise her tongue and mouth can develop a yeast infection. They forgot to tell me this part, and two years ago my mother’s tongue developed funky white bumps. In a compromised immune system thrush can be disastrous if it makes its way to the back of the throat. This morning my mother remains captivated by her index finger, her eyes transfixed on the dream she says is right there. On her right index finger. Why can’t I see it? She sees it plainly. I can’t see the glorious flights she takes on her pineapple comforter to her New York City childhood, or the other fabulous journeys she makes to distant shores with my dead father. When it comes time to wash her bedding, her comforter changes out from pineapples and palm trees to seashells then she usually flies to the Amalfi Coast. I drum the wet toothbrush against the inside of the worn basin. The large wads of food from her mouth shake from the bristles and stick to the old sink like gum to a subway stair rail. She sees what’s in the sink. Her dream finger returns to resting on her lap. It’s just a right index finger again.
STORY IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons/Stefan van der Straeten