Here I am, day 1 of a four day adventure in Tennessee to visit Hollis.
In the car ride on the way over, Hollis called to tell us how excited she was for the visit. Five minutes later we pulled into the nursing home and she was there in the window. I made a childish face at her and raced inside. I jumped in her arms gave her a big hug. She gave me her best one armed hug and then told me to give her a kiss. We kissed and she said we had to do it again so we can get a picture of it. How refreshing to have my first words with her be bossing me around!!
She handed me a note she wrote to me that was penned by Karen, her stepmother, signed by Hollis with her left hand. It said, "Thank you for being my friend. I love you!"
We quickly left the bustling activity center for the privacy of her room. Hollis was speaking the whole time. She would say things and then asked if I could understand her. If I didn't then I would tell her to repeat it and she would without frustration. She told me to sit in her chair with her. She asked me to massage her shoulders and feet."oh that so nice." She told me she couldn't feel anything, then I pinched her and she looked at me so I told her I caught her in a fib. She talked about her speech therapy and various health problems, some imagined. She kept saying that she is blind in one eye. Then we would do some experiments when we would cover each eye and ask her how many fingers. When she repeated herself the fourth time, I interrupted and told her that she had said that four times already and that it wasn't true. She apologized and didn't bring it up again. Near the end of the visit, she did say that it is hard for her to focus, but that is more of a problem with needing glasses.
She has this joke about fibro mialsia that kept cracking us up the whole time.
The joke was along the lines of, "One time at band camp, I got sick. It was from Fibro Mialsia."
Heather, her sister was like,"Did you smoke this fibro mialsia?"
"I think that was Marijuana, maryjane, reefer...."
And then from then on, sometimes when she couldn't think of a word, she would say she has fibro mialsia and laugh and crack up. Then it started to turn into spinalbi-fasia, etc.
We spent the day cuddling and reading a few letters from folks. I am introducing a new letter or present every few hours so she doesn't get overwhelmed. Which she wasn't. The last few weeks she has been stressed and depressed, so Diane warned me to not expect anything, but Hollis was back to her joyful, joking self. Her original southern accent, the one that comes out when she's drunk, was more apparent. Her southern hospitality was amazing. She kept asking me if I understood her, that she was just trying to explain where she's coming from. She was so polite and very thankful for all the gifts I would pull out. She has this phrase, "Oh, I had no idea" and "Oh thank you, that's so nice," which is very southern sounding. And very pleasant.
I brought a piece of bacon from breakfast for her to lick or something. I saw this glimmer in her eye when I first pulled out the bacon. It was like heaven had answered her prayers. She totally ate a very small fatty bit. Her slightly studdering thought patterns showed a transformation in her thought. At first she was saying she has an eating disability. That she can't eat food; that it will give her pain. Then I reminded her that her body wants real food instead of the vitamin tube and that it would be hard to reintroduce food but it will eventually happen. I notified her of the real pain it will be to get over a year of feeding tubes. Then she said that she can eat, but just not too much. Then she asked for more bacon. We gave her some yogurt instead and told her that the more she eats and the more she swallows, the more food she can have like that. Later on in the evening, I was telling her about Homemade Hustle and how Babs and Nikole's descriptions of their food are super poetic. She kept asking me to tell her what kind of food they were making. She was very interested in it all and would exclaim "Oh that's nice."
I showed her the picture of pregnant Linda and she was so excited. "Oh I had no idea she was pregnant! I wish she would have told me." She was very delighted to get updates from people. We are setting up an email account for her so she can reach out and send messages to people. She proclaimed that no one writes anymore. She would really love little updates on people. She doesn't want to hear how people are sorry for her position. She wants the dirt. The trials and tribulations. She conveyed that she knows that her big skill in life is communicating with folks and its lonely when she doesn't know what's going on. She also informed me that she has a Skype account as of this month and can Skype with anyone whenever. So if you are Skype-able, drop her a line. More info on how to later.
We decided to call Shannon because we were reminiscing about singing a song in the livingroom and tapdancing and we couldn't remember the words. Hollis remembered the melody and sang it to me. When we got her on the line, Shannon sang it to us and we all sang along and laughed. When Hollis talks on the phone, it's hard to hear her, but if you tell her to speak up or repeat things, she will no problem. It's more important for her that we understand what she is saying than the ego hit of us not being able to make out some of the mumbling. Hollis asked Shannon where she was and how she was doing. Hollis wanted to hold the phone and she was, but since she talks too quiet, sometimes her hand would go over the speaker and it would become hard to hear her. She doesn't talk that long, but she gets this amused look on her face when people are talking about what they are doing. After we got off the phone with Shannon, we called DA. She was asking him how he was doing and very interested in the goings-on at the Burningman office. She got this far away look in her eye, conjuring up this half fantasy-half reality land of fire and dust and hard work and people with weird names, like Fibro Mialsia.
She didn't want DA to stop talking about his life. She wanted a thousand word picture. When they did have to part ways, she thanked him for not being a prick. And we laughed and laughed....
I showed her my new Booty Dance skills. She got the biggest grin. She was the one who had been teaching me about the amazing booty shaking skills so many years ago, and now I could finally do it, as well as Jamie Bond. She was very surprised. And proud. I told her about the "Mogli" technique (sticking butt in air on hands and feet) and she said she hadn't heard of that and then asked if we had The Jungle Book dvd to watch so she could know what I was referencing. She is a sponge. She is a thirsty sponge.
While we were reading some comic books donated by Last Gasp, she interrupted me to tell me that some of her dreams had been in French. She reminded us that she had taken a semester in school of French but only knew a few things. I said the few things I know, including the "Voulez vous couche avec moi, c'est soi" (uh keep in mind I have no idea how to spell that) and she sang along and laughed. Then we counted in Fench and she kept going after my 1-10 knowledge. She couldn't pull out anything until I reminded her of how it is pronounced, then she sounded quite elegant. "Oh I had no idea you speak French," she said to me. I told her I speak Spanish and that my knowledge of that helps me understand. Then we went into some Spanish and she asked me how to say to the left and to the right and kept asking until she got the right pronunciation.
I am super excited about how this is all going down and I will continue to share it with you all. More tommorrow. Hopefully I can make more sense of my words. Please understand that I am trying to get this out so that i don't forget anything. I understand it is not the best prose.