Last Friday I took my mother to the hospital to get her battery replaced for the DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) she has for her Parkinson’s disease, which helps to control her dyskinesia. We had to be at the hospital in Toledo at 6am which meant we needed to leave Ann Arbor by 4:30am. Of course I left some critical paperwork with K & S (my sister and sister-in-law) with whom I was staying so I had to backtrack, after picking my mother up, and knock them both awake before we even got on the road.
It was incredibly foggy. The road was barely visible. My mother kept saying, “Can you see where you’re going?” I answered her that I could but was mostly lying. It was like driving inside dark clouds without any earthly visual markers to ground oneself. The headlights seemed to make it worse. Very surreal. Dangerously dreamlike. “It looks like we’re in a snow storm,” my mother commented.
But we made it to the hospital without mishap. The nurses were talking about delayed school closings because of the fog and were trying to get messages to their kids that they could actually sleep later (but of course waking them up to tell them they could sleep later).
There was some negotiating at the hospital regarding giving my mother general anesthesia vs local (87 year olds, especially my mother do not do well under general anesthesia). The nurses, the resident, and I were all in support of local–the surgeon acquiesced. By 10:30 we were in the parking lot figuring out where we wanted to go for lunch. Though still foggy, with daylight our visuals were much more secure.
After sweet and sour chicken (with a day-glo pink sauce!), egg rolls, and fried rice, we made our way back to Ann Arbor. By the time she was back in her apartment (after discussing post-op procedures with the nurses in her retirement facility), we were both utterly exhausted. I told her I was going back to my sister’s to take a nap. She said, “I don’t blame you.” We chatted a bit more. Then, I thought as a way to urge me on my way, she said, “Grandma’s in the car.”
I was a bit startled. My grandmother, my mother’s mother, died 40 years ago. I know that was to whom she was referring. “What?” I responded. “Did you hear what you just said?—‘Grandma’s in the car.'”
She was quiet for a minute or two. She was staring into space. I could see the wheels in her head spinning. “Grandma was with us in the car, the whole way to Toledo and back.”
“Oh. She was with us to bring us good luck today.”
“Yes,” my mother smiled.
“Well, she certainly did make things go smoothly.” Grandma in the car was nothing unusual. My mother, for as long as I remember, has always been visited by spirits, otherworldly guides, ghostly energies. “I’ll call you later. And I better get going. Grandma’s in the car,” I waved as I walked out her door.