It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m amazed, astounded and thankful for the human brain. As I watch my mother heal from her stroke I find it fascinating to see abilities and skills re-engage, words circle around and connect, ideas form and fill in. Skills that were nearly impossible two weeks ago now seem almost easy. Strength returns in surprising ways.
It’s equally surprising to see the areas that haven’t yet recovered. Similar abilities often use vastly different aspects of the brain. I never would have thought it worked that way.
For instance she can sit at the piano and play a simple song with both hands but finding her spoon on the tray and getting it into her right hand challenges her. Or she can carry on a perfectly normal conversation about almost any topic, until she’s asked about one of her children and the names elude her. And this one surprises me: she can tell a joke, but math baffles her.
I wonder as I hear her laugh, why her sense of humor has come back better refined, more active, mischievous and funnier. You’d think after going through what she’s been through she’d be upset, or feel sorry for herself, or aggravated at the losses and the challenges. But no, she’s optimistic, grateful and laughs at herself easily.
I think about the things an infant learns in just a few short months. Crying, eating, tracking objects with their eyes, reaching for toys, controlling head movements, sitting up, rolling over. All those synapses and nerves and neurons and signals and messages sent and received. What a wonder! Is there anything we’ve been able to create that duplicates that?
Seeing my own hands moving across the keyboard, typing, turning thoughts into words on a page seems miraculous and beyond belief. How does the brain do that? What electrical impulse does what where and how to make all that happen? I am in awe.
Before I get too serious I want to sidetrack here and say how giddy I feel, full up to overflowing with gratitude that Mom’s brain is healing and healthier every day. I also want to laugh out loud with gratitude. I think that feels incredibly appropriate.
So, In honor of my mother’s refined sense of humor and Dad’s new learning curve of care taking I’m including a couple of jokes that they will appreciate. You can laugh along if you want to. (Thank you Reader’s Digest for the great laughs!)
One hectic day at the hospital where I work, I was trying to take the medical history of a woman while being constantly interrupted. Flustered, instead of asking, “Are your parents alive or deceased?” I asked, “Are you alive or deceased?” She smiled and remarked, “I have got to start wearing more makeup! (–Vera Krause)
This next one actually reminds me of my parents:
Two elderly couples were walking down the street, the women a couple of metres ahead of the men. One man told the other that they’d had a wonderful meal the night before-great food, reasonably priced.
His friend asked for the name of the restaurant. “Well, I’ll need your help on this. Let’s see, there’s a flower that smells great and has thorns on the stem?”
“That would be a rose,” his friend responded.
“That’s it!” the man replied. Then he shouted to his wife: “Hey, Rose! What’s the name of the restaurant we ate at last night?” (– by Kerry Barnum)
A Dry Cleaning Joke
A man came into the dry cleaner’s where I work to pick up a pair of pants that he’d left two weeks before. He didn’t have his ticket, and I couldn’t find them. “Maybe you picked them up already,” I suggested. “I hope my memory isn’t that bad!” he replied, but said he’d go home and check. A minute later he was back, carrying the pants he had wanted cleaned. “I’ve been driving around with them in the car for two weeks!” he laughed. (–by Carolyn Brennan)