Like night and day, tonight, in contrast with my last visit here. That Sunday night was a nightmare, and I almost didn’t leave. This Sunday night, the situation is much more settled and calm. A fantastic young doctor has taken charge, put her on an IV to hydrate her, is taking her off unnecessary medication, and best of all, he’s telling me the truth. She hasn’t given up, he said, and we will fight for her, to a point. But she hasn’t much in reserve; anything could carry her away, even a small heart attack, an infection. But she can be comfortable and safe and even come back and be more herself.
So that’s as straightforward as I’ve heard. We hope she will get into this new residence, which this doctor said was his favourite of all he’s visited. I’d put my own grandmother in there, he said.
Oh what a powerful yet vulnerable machine is the human body. Keep it strong, my friends. You want to stay out of here. Really, you do. Though if you do end up here, there are angels. Mike the orderly, my old friend from last time, is here, working 12 hour shifts through the weekend, keeping us laughing. Mr. Handsome, he calls himself, as he changes diapers, cajoles frantic seniors, cleans up mess. He’s a prince.
So that’s my weekend. Soon Mum’s caregiver will come in to take over, so Mum doesn’t panic when I leave, as last time. Soon I’m off to the airport and back to my own life. It’ll be bewildering. I’m in the rhythm now, visit hospital, go back to the condo, walk in the sun – the weather all weekend has been sublime – see Auntie Do, go back to hospital again. It almost feels like a routine of home. Help. Get me out of here.
Last night, Do and I went through the box of old letters. Treasure – so many letters, Mum has kept everything. Do’s to her, her parents to her – a letter from her father in 1951, hoping her marriage is for the best – my father’s to her during the war, after, during the terrible crisis in 1956 when she went off with another man. The other man’s – a huge bag of his adoring letters, and another smaller bag from her second adoring lover, in the late sixties. What will people do to chronicle the past, now that there are no letters?
When the new doctor first came in, Mum was asleep, but of course, because he’s a nice young man, she woke up and was suddenly quite perky. “And who is this?” he said, indicating me.
“That’s my daughter,” she said, clearly. “Beth Kaplan.”
What a gift. And then, as soon as he left, she conked right out again.