“I’m feeling okay. It was a mild stroke. I can take care me and Taynisha,” Ebony said into the phone. She scratched an itch on her forehead before abruptly yanking it away. Then vigorously rubbed her hand on her jeans. “Momma, you are not coming over here. It isn’t safe. There’s that virus everyone is talking about.”
Twelve-year old Taynisha bounded into the room, tilted her head, and pointed at her tablet. When Ebony motioned for her to go back to her room, she stomped her foot and anchored a hand on her hip. “Momma,” she whispered loudly, “you need to see this.”
Ebony shook her head and waggled her finger at her daughter. Then gave her a look that said, ‘just you wait until I get off this phone’. Taynisha folded her arms, stuck her tongue out, and then stomped out of the room. “Ooh, that child,” grumbled Ebony. She put her hand on her face again before yanking it away and rubbed it on her jeans.
“Yeah, I know. She’s behaves like I did at her age. Look Momma, I really need to get off the phone.” Ebony put the phone on speaker laid it on the kitchen counter. She turned the water to hot and began washing her hands.
“Let me come over and help. You need to take more time off from work…what’s that noise? Are you doing dishes?” her mother’s voice chirped from the phone.
“No. I’ve already touched my face at least twice. I’ve got to quit doing that. And no, I can’t stay home.” Ebony wiped her hands on a frayed, stained towel. She grabbed a sanitizing wipe and scrubbed her phone and the counter where it had been.
“You know I can’t take more time off from work. I’ve got hospital bills to pay. And those rooms at the home aren’t going to clean themselves. There’s lots of fragile people there counting on me. That place has to be kept extra clean so the residents don’t get sick. I want to be there. Those old people are like extended family.”
Taynisha bounded into the kitchen and shoved her tablet in her mother’s face. Ebony pushed it away. She stomped her foot and shoved it at her again. “You’ve got to look at this now,” she barked and stomped her foot.
“Love ya, Momma. My daughter needs me and I’m fine. Bye.” She set her phone down hard on the counter.
“Young lady, you are not too big to give a whoopin’ to.” Ebony yanked the tablet from her. “What is so important that you interrupted?”
Taynisha had hurried across the room and was now sitting sat at the kitchen table. She looked at her with seriousness no twelve-year-old should know. “Do you have the virus?”
Ebony expression softened and then pinched into a scowl as she looked at the tablet. The headline read ‘Micro Blood Clots Might Be Linked to the Virus’. The subtitle read ‘Increase of strokes seen in virus patients’. She leaned against the counter as she continued reading.
Her stroke had been mild and caught very early. She had tested negative for the flu, but hadn’t been tested for the new virus. She had a cold, but hadn’t felt all that sick. It isn’t unusual to have a little something in February. There wasn’t a year that hadn’t gone by that she didn’t catch a cold or flu going around at work.
“Is that why you had a stroke? Are you going to get sick and go back to the hospital?” Taynisha’s eyes were watery and her bottom lip quivered. Seeing her so upset broke Ebony’s heart.
She walked over, laid the tablet on the table, and gently hugged her daughter. “I don’t know, baby.” She kissed the top of her head. “I don’t think the doctors would have sent me back to work if I was still sick.” She held her daughter until the tears forming in her own eyes subsided.