Yesterday I watched my brother carefully spooning ice chips into my mother's parched mouth. That's all she can have right now but she was so grateful you'd have thought she was eating filet mignon. My brothers and I hover around, trying to find something we can do to make her more comfortable, or we show her pictures of the grandchildren or, this morning, egrets.
I stopped at the park on the way to the hospital this morning to see whether the egret chicks I saw a few weeks ago are still there. I found mergansers swimming on the lake, anhingas preening at the tops of trees, and adult egrets doing their morning rounds, and then finally I found a nest with an adult feeding two fuzzy chicks. The adult would stretch out its neck, point a long sharp beak toward the sky, hawk up some digested goodies, and then regurgitate them into the waiting mouths of her chicks. It didn't look particularly appetizing but the chicks got really excited, clacking their beaks together to compete for the best breakfast.
Soon the chicks will fledge and learn to feed themselves, and one day they may be regurgitating breakfast into their own chicks' beaks. Meanwhile, I'm at the hospital showing the photos to my mother, who is very glad we don't have to feed each other that way. Hurrah for spoons and ice chips! A meal fit for a queen.