Al has been inspired on several occasions to hobble outside and grill some type of animal carcass. In mid-September, it was hamburgers on the occasion of Faith's birthday. She had made out a menu for every meal on her birthday, down to the beverage. Breakfast: crepes with syrup and powdered sugar, orange juice and sausage. Lunch: extra cheesy macaroni and cheese with chocolate milk. Dinner: hamburgers (on the grill, NOT fried or broiled), ketchup & pickles, chips and root beer. And dessert, of course: Vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, and dirt pudding with gummy worms instead of ice cream. She's a little particular, can you tell?
So, Al was happy to oblige by grilling the burgers. It's something he enjoyed before the stroke, and now he can enjoy it again, and was able to all summer. I remember one particular night in February, as Hope and I visited Al in the hospital, we had gone down to the cafeteria to get dinner. We walked by a display of burgers, and they smelled so rich and smokey, as if they had just come off a charcoal grill on a hot July evening. I turned to Hope and said, "I can't wait until Dad can grill in the back yard again." She agreed and we both stood there and enjoyed the smell for a few more minutes.
That night, as Al was grilling the burgers, Faith wandered outside to keep Daddy company. It was one of those late summer evenings when the house was stuffy from the heat of the day, but the evening was refreshingly cool and breezy, so we opened up all the windows to let in a new supply of air. As I worked in the kitchen to get some food ready, I could hear Faith happily chatting with Daddy outside. It struck me that Al's responses to her were so fluid. His voice sounded normal for the first time since the stroke.
Once in a while, I'm happy to glimpse the "old" normal. However, I am sure that a new normal will move in at some point, as I'm finally beginning to accept the fact that much of the old normal may be gone for good.
Bring it on.