Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Old Friend Remembers

The other day Mom's friend, Barbara, called. After handing the phone over to Mom, I heard her say, "Well, I'm fine, but everyone else here is crazy!"

It 's been a difficult week. Mom was unable to do much of anything for herself, but she was angry at me for, among other things, getting her breakfast. She tried to make coffee by spooning lots of instant coffee crystals into her electric teakettle. It boiled over, flooding the counter and spattering the wall.

"Why are you treating me like I was 12 years old?"

"Who ARE you? 'My daughter, Cynthia?' I don't have a daughter named Cynthia."

"Don't make me that toast again. (A favorite standby for years.) It was awful."

We spent 8 and 1/2 hours in the Emergency Room on Sunday. I'll probably write more about that later, because it was a horrendous experience. I know that Emergency Rooms everywhere are under fire and that what happened to Mom was probably typical. Still, this was no way to treat sick people, let alone an elderly woman. They got a few things right: they gave her fluids by IV and prescribed an antibiotic for her urinary tract infection and her abcessed tooth.

Another old friend of Mom's called yesterday. Mom has a coterie of younger friends who have kept in touch over the years. Ellen began her teaching career at the elementary school where Mom was principal. Ellen and the other teachers--all women--referred to Mom as "our pretty principal." To call her "pretty" doesn't capture the quiet, dark beauty she had as a young woman. Small, delicate features were set off by a mass of wavy black hair. Ellen told me that Mom broke many hearts. One suitor even offered Mom a diamond engagement ring. After she turned him down, he kept it in a safe deposit box, hoping that someday she'd change her mind.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I'm sorry your mom didn't get good care. I hope she improves soon.

happypitbull said...

Emergency rooms are never fun. Or efficient. But they should really learn to prioritize. My husband and I were waiting in an ER one time (one of hubby's many accidents) and a guy came in with half his foot cut off(!!), which to me seems like they ought to admit him right away--I'm pretty sure no one in the waiting room would have objected--or at the very least, they could have gotten his foot wrapped up and stabilized him. But they just told him to have a seat. After an hour of bleeding all over the floor, he left, saying he was going to go home and call an ambulance! I would never have believed it if I hadn't been there.

forsythia said...

I can believe it. If you arrive by ambulance, they take you a little more seriously.