Phone calls in the small hours are never a good thing.
My mother has been admitted to hospital due to a possible heart attack. She had one last year, following surgery. Another is always a possiblity.
At first all seemed well. Tests indicated that no, there'd been no attack. The chemical they look for was absent. Bloodwork was perfectly normal. Everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief. Mum will probably be home later that day.
More bloodwork that afternoon, however, showed signs that a heart attack might be immanent. Suddenly, the heart attack chemical, whatever it might be, was there. Not a lot, but there'd been none before. Mum would stay in overnight for observation. Everyone moves into a state of mild alert.
That evening, her blood presssure starts popping up and down. This is the thing that had me up in the small hours, worrying. When vital signs aren't stable, nothing can be relied upon. I am now in a state of red alert.
You all recall that I'm getting married soon?
With the first call, we wondered if mum could attend the wedding. With the second call, we decided she wouldn't. "That's okay," says mum. "I'll come and visit as soon as I can afterwards." I'm disappointed, but we're within days, now. The deed is almost done.
But now, in the small, dark hours of the morning, my mind is filled with dire possibilities. If she doesn't stabilize? If they can't control the blood pressure? If this attack is worse than the last one? The decision is clear: if mum is in serious danger, I will cancel the wedding. Obviously.
The wedding that was years in the making
. The wedding that was so very difficult
for me to accept without panic.
But my mother could be dying. There is no question.
By dawn, I am resolute. Calm, decided. I will call the hospital, speak to the nurse in charge of my mother's case.
I have to wait till after the morning shift change. I rehearse in my mind the words. I am clear. I am at peace. I will seek the information I need to make the decision.
"Hello, this is LauraA, Mrs. V's daughter. I was wondering how she's doing this morning?"
I can picture the woman behind the voice. She's of average height, broad and soft. She's mostly grey, there are wrinkles around her eyes which speak of motherly compassion. Her voice has a warm, friendly down-east twang. Cape Breton, perhaps? If she's from The Rock, she's been in Ontario a lot of years. But it's homely and comforting, her voice.
The voice is reassuring. Mum has had a good night. Her blood pressure has stabilized, the blood tests are now all normal. She's alert and in good spirits, moving about comfortably. Relief washes through me. Nonetheless, I need to ask the question. I have my script, I know what I will say, with compassionate and calm resolution.
"That's good to hear. Here's my situation: I'm supposed to be getting married this weekend, and I was wondering if -"
and suddenly my voice is out of control, soaring skyward, as sobs shake me -
"I should cancel the we-eh-eh-eh-eh-ding?"
You understand that it is not the possibility of cancelling the wedding that is causing my distress. It is the fact that I am making concrete plans that pivot on the possibility of my mother's immanent demise. If this woman says I should cancel, it means I may realistically lose my mother in a matter of days. All my rehearsing and resolution melt in a pool of tears.
The nurse's response is immediate and patently sincere.
"Oh, NO! You mustn't do that! It would be terribly upsetting to your mother!"
'Probably give her a heart attack' almost pops out of my mouth. I bite back a hysterical giggle.
Later, my sister confirms the nurse's words. "Mum was saying yesterday, 'Goodness, I hope Laura doesn't do something silly like cancel the wedding'."
So, we're all settled. I will have my wedding this weekend, which mum will not be able to attend. Nor my sister, who will stay close, just in case. They will visit me as soon as mum is able to travel.
Physically tired from my sleepless nights and wearily worn to my last frayed nerve, I decide to take a restoring evening walk by the river. I've always loved to walk by the path, see the river in its moods and colours. In the evening, you're likely to see muskrats, be serenaded by peeps and croaks. It's therapy.
Bekah asks to join me. She's generally a companionable little thing, so we set off together. We chat quietly, idly, then she begins to worry about the state of her face. She's thirteen, and her complexion is becoming a focus of concern. There are tears in her eyes. It's things like this that confirm the solidly "child" status of a teen. The poor girl is in true distress. Nothing like having a child around to pull an adult's mind out of the grubby adult world and into the small concerns of daily life. One could argue the therapeutic value of this conversation, too.
And so I say, with loving affection.
"Sweetie, it's been a very difficult couple of days, and you know what? I simply cannot find it in my heart right now to care about pimples."
Good mothering involves giving your child the Larger Picture. We can call it Reality Therapy.
Labels: domestic bliss, family/other, reality bites, teens