While at work one day my phone rings, and I saw it was mom. I knew it because our phones tell us everything today, so as I took it out of my pocket the words 'incoming call Mom' stared back at me. "Hi Mom, what's up?"
I didn't like the uncertainty immediately obvious in her voice. "Do you have my doctor's phone number?"
"Yeah, somewhere, why?"
"Well, I blacked out and fell and hit my head..." I interrupted her to say, "I'm closing, ma, and I'm taking take you to Emergency."
"I'd rather you call the doctor to see what he says."
I replied tensely, "He's gonna say take you to Emergency."
"I'd feel better if you'd call him." So, not to make her any more upset, I said I would and then call her right back. The doctor, of course, though very nice about it, made it quite clear that I should not be speaking to him but rushing her to the hospital instead. I called her and said I would be at her house right away.
As I had a key, I let myself in. Mother was not to be found, until I noticed her bathroom door shut. I knocked frantically and said, "I'm here, ma, let's go."
"In a minute. I'm brushing my hair and fixing my lipstick."
"We're going to Emergency, not a wedding reception." I barked in dismay. "They're not going to say, 'oh, don't treat Mrs. Cosgriff, her hair's mussed' Let's go!"
"I'll only be a minute." she responded with the finality of tone that told me I would be waiting until she was good and ready to go. Being a North Carolina girl, she would not be pushed, and I knew not to push back when she became that way. It would only make things worse, cause them southern gals, when their dander's up, they's fractious.
So we get to the hospital, they take her in right away, and we begin to sit and wait. She was lying on a gurney as I sat next to her. After a while she opined, "Well, I hope they find something, but I've lived a good life, no matter what."
I said nervously, having been thinking about the never never myself all along and not wanting to, "Let's not talk like that, ma, let's see what the doctors say."
About half incensed she asked, "What, don't you think I've had a good life?"
"No one says you haven't, ma, but let's not think about that just yet."
"Well, I've lived a good life anyway." There's that finality again, so I clammed up. But I really didn't care for it that second.
An hour or so later as I was standing next to her she said, stating more than asking, "It don't look right, does it, you seeing your mother lying in a hospital bed with all these wires and needles."
"No, momma, it don't." I whispered. I couldn't help but remember barely a year before, watching my dad as he lay dying in that same hospital. She was right on the money. It didn't look right at all.
"But I've had a good life." she said again. Aw, c'mon, ma, didn't we just go through this? I felt the exasperation of Ray Romano.
So a few weeks and several tests pass, and the doctors became sure she needed a pacemaker. It was obvious that even Mom was now quite sure that her good life had an indefinite time left and that she needed to get about living it. I sat with her on that Wednesday morning, waiting for the procedure. She fretted, "I wish they'd hurry up and do it. I have to weed my garden.", getting fractious. "And I'm hungry. But you know they won't feed me until after they're done."
Several starts and stops later (you know how hurry up and wait hospitals can be), and after not too little worrying about all the things she had to do, they put in the pacemaker. After she left for the OR, the next time I saw her was back in her room, all rosy cheeked after a month of appearing grayish and wan. She was eating and complaining, "They better let me go soon. I've got to get to work on my garden, and you know the house needs cleaning."
As my siblings were by then with her, I slipped out to find her doctor. I advised him to release her soon for his own good, because them southern gals, they's fractious.