My sister Lindy and I dreaded the periodic phone calls from Husband Number Three Tom relating to us that Mother was in the hospital. He usually had the details wrong and, on one occasion, when they were living in California, he couldn’t remember the name of the hospital where she had been admitted. He told Lindy it was named after a president, and my sister finally located her. Mother was in Robert F. Kennedy Hospital. Actually, for Tom, this was a pretty good near-match.
On another day, after they had moved back to Indiana, Tom called to report that Mother was in the hospital and “not expected to live.”
We should come down immediately, he informed us.
So, after a 10+ hour drive to Indiana, we arrived at the hospital. The doctor was beside himself. He said he was not able to get through to Tom about the seriousness of our mother’s condition. Lindy asked the doctor if he had tried a two by four. She thought hitting him with it might be a start.
The doctor said he had phoned Tom one morning at 3AM and told him to get to the hospital right away as the doctor was in need of medical decisions from Mother’s next of kin. Tom asked the doctor if he could wait until it got light to drive over.
When Lindy and I arrived, Tom was nowhere to be found. He finally arrived a couple hours after we got there. I asked Tom to go the cafeteria with us for a bite to eat. He said
No, I can’t eat anything unless your mother makes it.
That’s funny. Most people feel just the opposite.
When I asked him which of her delightful creations he liked best, he chose her chicken noodle soup.
Don’t the bones bother you?
Well, I have almost choked a couple of times.
Lindy and I were not going to be able to stay forever since we were both scheduled to teach school that fall. We decided to call on the services of Mother’s sister, our Aunt Marty. Unfortunately, Marty informed us she was getting a new roof put on her house and she considered that much more pressing than a call about her dying sister. Eventually, the roof got put on and Marty made her way down South. On a Sunday, she arrived at the hospital. It was just about dinner time and she suggested we go out to her car and have some ham and potato salad that had been sitting in her vehicle the whole time. Apparently traveling with unrefrigerated food in the car was a family tradition with these two.
Lindy and I had called Dad immediately and let him know where we were going and what the prognosis was. Like the Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz, he was looking forward to hearing that the Wicked Old Witch was no more.
When we later called him with the “great news” that Mother had turned around after a visit from a minister, he was shocked and disappointed at the good news.
She’s doing much better.
my dad said in something less than his usual kindly manner. It wasn’t that he wished her dead, it was just complete and utter shock at sudden turn-around in her health.
While sitting in the Intensive Care waiting room, a man began to talk to us. He had been a student of our great-grandfather and his mother-in-law was in the hospital. He claimed they had served her a steak the previous evening and were unable to locate her false teeth.
Someone took her complete set of plates.
he repeated to us several times. Lindy did not enjoy this conversation, but I found it tremendously humorous.
The next day, Mother got her breathing tube out and she began to talk.
I couldn’t believe I’d never see cousin Billy again. I need to see cousin Billy!
she sobbed. Lindy and I felt horrible that she was not asking to see our children, but we were not surprised. We arranged for Billy to come up and visit and Mother was happy for a few moments.
Once she arrived home, Mother’s sister was there to take care of her. Unfortunately, the two of them had always had a toxic relationship and this time was no different. And ironically, on their return to Mother’s cluttered, foul-smelling abode, her sister began cleaning with some of the most toxic substances known to man. When she sprayed Clorox Clean-up all over, Mother started throwing a fit and saying she couldn’t breathe. Since she had just returned from the hospital with respiratory problems, and since her sister was using can after can of the Clorox spray, this may have actually been true.