When Limbs Betray

She has grown accustomed to poking fun at her circumstances. “Know what that is?” she asks, holding out her left arm and hand as if she’s hiding something. The unsuspecting conversant asks quizzically, “What?” She erupts in girlish laughter that belies her 96 years, “Fingers”. This is how she integrates the aftermath of the stroke. The arm and hand are there and still serviceable after all but foreign somehow to her and not at all hers to command. The thumb and forefinger of her left hand are perpetually in contact as if trying hard not to lose something like an invisible needle or grain of rice. Even when she extends them to steady herself, as my aunt perpetually needs to do, rising and sitting as she does every five minutes or so, as if to salute an authority that only she can see, they remain pinched together, holding fast to the thread of life, slipping, just beyond her grasp.

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