"I feel like we're starting back at square one Frank," Maggie said after returning from her visit to see dad.
"I mean, dad's entire left side is slumped over, just like when he had that first stroke... remember? And, he can't even hold anything. At this point, the doctor says the sight in his left eye may be gone. We won't know about his speech yet for a few days. He's also having problems swallowing again... this is crazy Frank. He can only say 'yes' or 'no'."
Frank drifted off digesting the news while looking out his office window. His New York panorama was not as impressive as many of the other taller buildings in Manhattan, but his corner of the world allowed him to look directly down on the Avenue of Americas. His vantage provided a much better shot of downtown than in previous years, when he worked on a lower floor. Back then his view was less spectacular but still unforgettable as he remembered watching the second World Trade Tower collapse into a pile of smoke and rubble.
The rest of Maggie's call seem to fade away too. Her voice sounded like the garbled teacher voice in the old Peanuts cartoon that Frank used to watch as a kid. Eventually Maggie stopped talking, and Frank tuned back in. He promised to check back with mom a little later, to see how she was doing. Sandra can give her a call, he thought. Sometimes Lily found it easier to confide in Sandra because she never made her feel like she was fretting about her health. Frank's sisters asked relentless questions, drilling down no doubt for important information, but information that Lily never felt was necessary.
Back at Sunset, Tracey's reaction to Carter's stroke was puzzling. Tracey still walked around the floors with her ipod, but she seemed more distracted and less comfortable, not taking time to chat with Lily.
"Can I get you anything Lily? Maybe I should give you a little time to yourself before coming back to change Carter's bed? I'm just around the corner if you need me, okay?"
Lily wished that Tracey would just come in and sit with her. She could bring comfort without saying a word. Lily appreciate Maggie and the kids' efforts, of course. They were wonderful, rallying around her, offering help. But Lily just wanted to be. No one would believe she was fine. Even Frank seemed suspicious when Lily told him,
"What can you do. Your father's had a good life. I just don't want to see him suffer anymore. I care about his quality of life. Quality of care isn't really an issue for me, I'm here, you know."
Sandra called Frank at the office later that day, to let him know that Lily seemed to be in good spirits. She asked Frank what time he would be home.
"Should I hold off on dinner so we can have a late one together... with the kids maybe?