Ma went to the doctor and found out she had high blood pressure. The doctor gave her medicine. She finished the bottle, and she felt good, so she never got any more. She just quit. She figured that what she took made her better, so she didn’t need any more.
Then one day she went to put up her hair–she had long hair–and she couldn’t put the pins in. Her fingers wouldn’t work.
It was pa’s birthday, January 4, and the family came over. They fixed ma’s hair for her, since she couldn’t put the pins in. Dr. Kelly came. He knew right away that she’d had a stroke. He said, “Where’s her blood-pressure medicine?” I said, “Well, she finished the bottle and she never…” I didn’t know anything. See, now I know that you shouldn’t stop taking your blood-pressure medicine.
Then a few months later she had a stroke at home. The priest was coming to bring ma and pa communion. But when my mother woke up in the morning she couldn’t talk. She started to babble. “Be-be-be-be.” That’s all she could say. You could tell by looking at her that she knew something was wrong. She knew she wasn’t saying the right thing.
I called Dr. Kelly, and he and the priest arrived at the same time. Father said to the doctor, “You go, and I’ll wait.” The doctor said, “No, you go first.” So the priest went in for a few minutes, and when he left, Dr. Kelly went in and gave her a shot of something, which put her out for a couple of days. He said that the fright of not being able to talk was terrible for her.
In November we were going out to the Ryans’ for Mary Jude’s first birthday, and my mother had a stroke in the car. Her eyes started rolling in her head, and she stiffened up, and all sorts of… It’s difficult to describe. We were somewhere near Loretto Hospital, so we went over there. Dr. Shecter was the doctor on call. This was her second big stroke, and I was a nervous wreck.
Dr. Shecter was wonderful. Ma was in a coma. He told us to stay with her around the clock, and if they tried to send us out of her room we should call him or tell them to call him, that it was his order that we should stay, that if she knew that her family was near her it would help her to recover.
My mother was in this coma for about three days, and we called Father Henley from Resurrection. He comes in, says, “Good afternoon, Mrs. Ryan.” She opens her eyes and says, “How are you, Father?” Just like that. He just walked in the room. He didn’t even bless her. So after that she went home.
She was an invalid for three and a half years. “Be-be-be-be-be.” That’s all she ever said. Although Vincent used to work on her. He’d say, “Gramma, say cup of tea,” and he got her where she could say “cup of tea.” But other than that she’d just say “Be-be-be-be.”
When we went looking for houses we’d take her with us. She liked to get out. One day we went to Marie Shea’s, and she had a stroke there. Marie and I rode with her to Loretto Hospital. I thought she was dead when they took her out of the ambulance. Marie thought so too. I knew it was going to happen someday.
Vincent was about five. He says, “What are we gonna do now?” He walked around the emergency room, “What are we gonna do now?”
Later Marge and Ed came. I wouldn’t go in. They went in without me, and then they came out and said, “Why don’t you go in and see her?” I said, “Well, I just can’t stand the thought.” They said, “Well, she’s sitting up in bed.” So I went in, and there she was. “Be-be-be-be.” She was OK. And in a few days she came home.