Okay, I’m ready to leave.
Both sisters and my brother and I are sitting watching my mother be in a coma. As much as that is “being.” She is on a ventilator and narcotics and Versed and antibiotics in hopes that her internal systems can get themselves reorganized. She was transported from the small community hospital in the Keweenaw Peninsula to Marquette General Hospital early today as she appeared to be crashing in every direction. Her hemoglobin had come up from 3 to 6 with two transfusions but she has pneumonia, congestive heart failure and some sort of septicemia with high spiking temperatures. Marquette is the tertiary care center for the Upper Peninsula and the care here is thorough and kind.
One sister and I literally collided at the Detroit airport as I rushed off my plane from Florida and she from hers so we could connect on the small commuter. My brother is in from Boston and the other sister from Wisconsin.
When we arrived Bud was standing at my mother’s side as he had been for the past 48 hours. He pretty much looked like a small breeze would blow him over; he has pneumonia as well but they hadn’t’t been able to get him to leave the room or even sit in the chair. He just simply answers, “I can’t. That’s my wife.”
Once we came he gave in to his emotions and then gave in to a nap. It took two nurses and two daughters to convince him that it would be good for her if he would rest. They have hospitality rooms here- fully outfitted rooms where you can sleep and eat and make phone calls and go online- for 10.00/day. That’s a good deal. Betsy thinks the best deal is that they have well over a dozen flavors of jello daily in the hospital cafeteria for .50 each.
So Bud is sleeping in a hospitality room and here in my mom’s room there’s a note on the dry erase board that reads, “Bud is in 216” except that “Budisin” all slid together and so it looks like Budism, especially since the 216 is written below. Then someone wrote “Budism reigns.”
Here’s a Budism: While playing Trivial Pursuit a few years ago the question for Bud was, “In what sport do you rack your balls?” Bud, who is very smart and very up on sports, mulled it over this way and that, saying, “why, I just don’t know. Huh. I never heard of that.” until finally out of exasperation, Laurel said, “Dad! Just say any sport!” And he answered, “Shot put?”
“Shot Put!!! Bud! It’s pool! Billiards! You rack your balls in pool!”
And Bud said, “Oh! Rack! I couldn’t’t hear you- I thought you said WRAP.”
My mother came to some a while ago. She recognized my sister and me. She heard me when I said Bud was taking a much needed nap. For just a very few moments every several hours, our presence offers comfort. Then, after a couple minutes she looks panicked; I think right now increased awareness brings both pain and recognition of her situation- both the immediate discomfort of the tube in her throat and then the dawning that she is in the big hospital and all her children are around her. The nurses quickly but gently turned her and sedated her again.
Anyway, I’m ready to leave. But we are all so far from leaving right now. My mother is sicker than she has ever been and I think she’s trying to hang on but it’s going to be slow going. Bud, probably for the first time, thought he had lost her in the early hours of this morning. That fear was still all over him before he fell asleep a few hours ago.
I hate jello. I’ve washed my hands with that foamy stuff about a hundred times. I can’t even breathe deeply for fear of inhaling germs. I’m sitting on a blanket on the floor because it’s more comfortable but the nurse keeps asking me if I want a chair. The novelty of being with my siblings is no fun because we are in this room, with these smells and beeps and drips. We can’t make noise or yell at each other over cards or laugh uproariously over times past. It would take her quick wit and the sparkle in my mom’s eye and the sneaky smile on Bud’s face when he says, “what?? I can’t hear you!” for us to start having fun. Right now, that’s just not happening.