Speech

by Jonah

My grandmother spoke today!

Since her stroke, she hasn’t been able speak a word, only sign yes or no with her hand. Yesterday, Dad asked for prayer at Integrity Music’s weekly staff worship service on behalf of my grandmother. That same day, she relearned how to speak in therapy. She could count and sing Amazing Grace and other things by rote.
I went to visit her today. She has pneumonia, and hasn’t felt like eating anything, so I took her some chicken soup and tapioca pudding my mom made for her. As I prepared the soup for her to eat, my grandmother started signaling to me that she wanted something. It’s often hard to understand what she wants, almost like an endless game of twenty questions.

I pointed to something, “Do you want this?”

She made her hand into a fist, the sign for no.

“Well, what do you want?” I asked.

She opened her mouth, the syllables coming haltingly. “Oh… yesss…” she said. “I… can… talk…”

I laughed. It was the first time I’d heard her voice in more than a month.

“That’s right, you can talk!”

“I… can… talk…” she said, “you… can… talk…”

She has to try very hard to get the words out. It takes many false starts and a lot of concentration to get out what she is trying to say. Many times her syllables are so slurred that I can’t understand them. But she keep trying. She asked me,

“Ees… Booger… Oh… Kay?”

“Is Buller okay?” I repeated, talking about our neighbor’s dog (who, nevertheless, stays up at our house most of the time). “Yes, he’s fine.”

She asked me something about Stephanie, but I couldn’t understand her. “What… happened… to… day… at… school?” she asked me. I told her, but her ears are stopped up, and she was having trouble hearing me. “I… can’t… hear… youuuu…” she said, putting her hand behind her ear.

She ate all her chicken soup and tapioca, which is more than she’s eaten in a few days. She got me to open a package that arrived at the hospital for her. Inside was a box of thin chocolate mints from a friend. As I was leaving, she told the nurse, “I want… one of those…”

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