When my sister went to check on my mother at the hospital yesterday evening, she found her sitting in an armchair by the bed, propped up with pillows, knowing who and where she was, and eating dinner on her own.
The last several days had been utterly discouraging, my mother\’s encephalitis keeping her nailed to the mattress, helpless in every way, oscillating between stupor and delirium. So the sight of my mother out of bed, eating and making sense sent my sister\’s hopes sky high.
\”I had a visitor this afternoon\” my mother said.
\”Oh yes? Who was it?\” Over the last week my mother\’s visitors had included her long-dead mother, a mysterious male child, and some unidentified but disturbing entities. On this promise-filled day my sister was hoping to hear of some real-live friend who had dropped by.
\”The archbishop came.\”
My sister\’s spirits plummeted. But she thought she could bring my mother back to rationality by asking precise questions. \”And which archbishop was it, the new one or the old one?\” (The Mobile diocese had just been assigned a new archbishop.)
\”The new one,\” my mother said, spooning mashed potatoes into her mouth. \”He didn\’t have much to say, but he seemed nice.\”
Reminding herself that recovery from such a serious illness was bound to take a long time, my sister started getting my mother ready for the night. She went to get a nurse\’s aide to help with the chair-to-bed transition and asked, \”Did my mother have any visitors this afternoon?\”
\”Yes Ma\’am, she sure did,\” the woman answered. \”The archbishop came by.\”