Having split her right femur bone in half nearly two weeks earlier, Ma was now resting comfortably at a rehab facility four blocks from my condo. She insisted that she go to a place dedicated more to helping a person regain their walking skills rather than to a “shut up and lie down” nursing home environment.
She was starting to get used to two-a-day grueling therapy sessions where she was not babied in the least bit. I thought about that movie Ruthless People where Bette Midler is kidnapped and tossed into a basement but given free reign. She uses the time to start exercising and by the time she is released looks like a sculpted athlete.
On Sundays and holidays there were no therapy sessions because the management did not want to pay extra to the therapists. This meant Ma would be sitting around doing nothing on Memorial Day Weekend.
I dropped in on the Monday holiday afternoon figuring she would be miserable watching the Cubs lose another ballgame. Instead she was not in her room. Instinctively, I went downstairs to the lower level entertainment center where I caught her watching a live (well, he wasn’t dead) musician play an electric violin accompanied by a Karaoke instrumental background music-making machine.
My sister was sitting there with Ma as well. Show business is in our family blood so the three of us unabashedly sang the words to the songs being played and we corrected along with another member of the audience the mistakes made by the entertainer on the background information to each piece. (Stuff like- Marlon Brando sang Luck Be a Lady in the Guys and Dolls movie, Sinatra sang it on a hit album.)
About a half hour after the performance was over and Ma was ensconced back in her room, I decided it was time to depart. I went down to the first floor at the entrance area and gave the attendant my name so she could record that I had left. As I was about to walk out at the electric sliding door, the two ladies who had been sitting to the right of Ma during the violinist performance stopped me. One had hair that was dyed black while the other a very white bouffant. Whitey was sitting in a kind of contraption that not only enabled her to be mobile but also provided a shelf for her to store accessories.
They both said in unison how much they enjoyed my singing voice. I told them that I wasn’t that good and figured they suffered from loss of hearing. They insisted that I was being humble. Trust me- I wasn’t. The younger one then went on to gush how she had seen the performer twice before and thought he was just grand. That’s when I knew she was definitely no judge of talent.
I asked the presumably younger one how long she had to be there. She said she had hip problems and had been in the place on and off for six months. I then turned to the white haired one and carefully tried to frame my question so it wouldn’t sound as if I thought she was stuck there for the duration.
I bravely asked, “and how long do you need to be here?” wincing as the words came out of my mouth. She replied, “oh, I’m just visiting. She’s my daughter,” while pointing to the alleged brunette.