It was raining in the city. A hard rain.
No, really, it was raining hard. I was staring out the sixth floor hospital window onto a big, old, dark city. A river bending around us like some monster’s sinew. In the bed, my seventy-eight year old mother currently enjoying her morphine drip. She deserves it; she’s spent Christmas night in the ER of this equally big, old, dark hospital and now, a couple days later, just got out of surgery to have a colostomy bag hooked up. We’re all saying to each other, “she is not going to like that.” Flash forward a couple more days and after eating some dinner, the bag begins to fart. She says, “Oh, I hate this bag.”
It’s Christmastime and I’m watching the Sound of Music with her in the hospital. Then, it’s time to leave and she says, “I’ll finish watching and see if they still fall in love.” They do, I watch it every year. I always make everyone in the room stop and take notice when the scene comes where the Captain is singing Edelwiess and Maria is off stage. Then the moment comes. I say to mom this year, “here it comes…wait for it…there it is! She’s fallen in love with him.” What a woman that Julie Andrews is. She’s on my list, you know.
We all hated the hospital, but kept it to ourselves. You want the best for your mother, right? Well, this wasn’t it. But, it was her hospital. Kinda like her car. I want her to have a better car, but she doesn’t and she won’t. And, after a couple of nights of all night partying by some of the guests, she’d had enough and asked for a private room. Much better. We told her when you go back for your surgery, you may as well just ask for a private room right of the bat.
The first surgery (for the bag) went well. The night before, my dad pulled me aside to whisper, “you’re gonna be with her tomorrow morning, right?” Even now, I’m proud to say, he wanted to make sure I was going to do the right thing.
Tonight, the new year is here. She looked really good tonight. Almost back to normal. She really is in good shape. After the tumor comes out next Friday, a couple of weeks of some slow recuperation and some pain, she’ll be back to this point, but for good.
Yes, it’s been hard seeing her like this; in the hospital and nursing home. But, it makes us ask the hard questions of ourselves. Will we be ready for this? First, will we be ready for our parents’ passing. Then, will we be ready for our own infirmities? Where will we go? Who will take care of us? I’ve very proud of her for taking care of herself through the years. I hope I can live up to that high standard.