“Ma! Ma!” he said over the beeps of the machine that counted her days. “Ma! It’s me, Ma. You’re looking so good. Last time you had all these hoses curling from your mouth and neck, you looked like a secret agent Ma. Look at you now, you’re so pretty.”
“Aunt Lydia, this is also Robbie.”
“It is still my turn, Robbie, I am not done loving her yet.”
“This is my Ma!” he flung at nurse McLaughlin, who beamed back at him, amused, while she drew the privacy curtain taut, into a translucent border.
“How many kids are you?” the nurse asked.
“Four of us, but I’m the only one who loves this lady right here.”
“Look! Look! She shook her head. Are you saying no, Ma? Is she saying I don’t love her? Do it again, Ma, move again for me. I want to know you can hear.”
“You’re feeling good, Ma? They’re treating you nice here? You have such soft hands, Ma. Like I keep saying, here’s this paper right here.”
“Not now,” said Robbie.
“Yes now, you don’t know what you’re talking about, Rob.”
“Ma, I drove miles to see you. You’re looking good. Let me help open your hand. You’re doing so much better. Oh, you have strong fists, Ma, clenching up like that. How are you feeling? They’re treating you good here? Open up. Yeah, let me help you with this. You look so peaceful, Ma. You can hear me? Loosen, move your hand with this pen for me; like I said, sign an X or an L or something.”
“Ma, your nose is so cute. Remember how you used to touch mine? Just like this, Ma.”