July 13, 2014

The Ambassador from the Planet Aphasia

 This article was first published by at Yahoo Contributors but they are going out of business and the rights have reverted back to me. So if it seems out of order to the rest of the content here, that is the reason.

Today was get-out-of-the-house day. We've been snow bound. Oh, not really but it makes a better story than saying we had no place to go since Friday. Today was different. We had a mission. We had to get haircuts and lunch and visit the bookstore before they were tempted to take us off their speed dialer.

After our haircuts, we were in Cracker Barrel waiting for our chicken fried chicken and biscuits when over the sound system came a guy vocalizing, "I've got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle as I go ridin' merrily along and they sing, oh, aren't you glad you're single and that song ain't so very far from wrong."

"Don," I asked my husband, "Is that Bill Wills singing?"

"Late, late night. Girl, girl, boy," he answered.

"Okay," I thought, "what does that mean on the Planet Aphasia?" Will someone tell me why it takes fifteen minutes to translate something like that? But it did finally come to me. Don's enigmatic reply was telling me that the cowboy singing was Tex Ritter. It's really quite cleaver how he can find ways to communicate with so few words at his disposal. 3's Company comes on TV late at night and John Ritter (plus two girls) starred in the show, and John was the son of Tex Ritter. This is what it's like living with my husband's language disorders, aphasia and apraxia; he speaks in aphasic tongue and I translate it into earth English. It's daily, mental gymnastics.

After we got our coats on to leave the Cracker Barrel, Don did one of his famous 'roll ups' to our restaurant mate's table. "Handicapped. Six---no. Five---no. Four! Vegetable," he said as an introduction.

I quickly translated: "My husband had a stroke four and a half years ago and we were told that he'd be nothing more than a vegetable."

"You sure fooled them," the woman beamed and Don beamed right back at her.

"GM. Snowplow," Don replied and I translated: "My husband worked at GM and had a commercial parking lot maintenance business on the side. He was a workaholic."

"Oops!" Don chimed in while using a hand gesture that punctuated my sentence. Then he drew his shoulders down, making himself look like a little boy getting balled out by his mother and said

"Oops," again. That time in a comical tone. Everyone laughed.

"Don," I nudged him along, "we've got to get going now." He didn't want to leave but we said our good-byes. They said their "good lucks" and "you're doing greats." The strangers didn't know it but they had just met the Ambassador from the Planet Aphasia.

Out in the parking lot, I got ready to load Don up and move him out. I peered across the street, judging the distance to our next stop to be less than a city block. I saw the bungee cords in the back of the Blazer and not for the first time I speculated that I could hook them up to Don's wheelchair (with him still inside) and just pull him along behind the car. This would save me a lot of work if I could do without a few chair-to-car and car-to-chair transfers. But it's January and the wind chill was a serious factor so I decided to put that experiment off to warmer weather.

On the way across the street Don was getting sleepy and I thought, "Oh, boy, I get a vacation!" So, I booked a suite at Linens & Things and left my man in the car while I went inside to shop. I was having a good time, too, pushing a cart and doing my best imitation of a Stepford Wife. I wasn't wearing the classic sun dress, luminous lipstick or spiked heels but I did have an imaginary book on my head so my posture was perfect. As I lusted over a stainless steel toilet brush holder a song from long ago came over the sound system. It could have been Dianna Ross and the Supremes crooning, "Baby, baby, where did our love go wrong? Baby, baby, don't leave me alone." That's when I remembered poor Don out in the car.

"Oh my God!," I thought, "I've been in here so long that the floor boards on our three year old Blazer have probably rusted through and he's gotten over come by exhaust fumes!"

I rushed to the cashier and wrote her a check. The date I put down was two days behind and I wondered how many days I'd have to forget before I'd cross over from 'flaky' to 'senile.' She asked for my driver's license. I mistakenly handed her Don's picture ID. The girl looked at me then down at the card, studying it carefully. Quickly I pulled the right card out of my wallet before she could tell me that I looked better with the mustache.

The bookstore was our next stop and by the time we were ready to go home from there, I was so tired that thoughts of bungee cords and thrill-riding Don all the way home seemed pretty darned do-able.

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