Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tea and Sympathy

When the stress of shouldering the world gets to be too much, a vacation is just the ticket to restore harmony to body and soul. A vacation need not be to an exotic destination. All that is needed is a break from the routine. A walk, a visit to a friend, a day in the library or other favorite place can do wonders to lift the spirit.

When Ma bogged him down, Dad would drive himself to the hospital, announce to the ER desk, he felt he was having a heart attack. Instantly, he’d be surrounded by a doctor, nurses and technicians. He’d endure the pokes, prods, samples and in no time he’d be admitted and hooked up to telemetry for observation.

The nurses and lab technicians would tell him he didn’t look like a man in his 80's. They would bring him custard and ginger ale. He would bloom under the attention. He would flirt with the nurses and after 3 days or whenever the insurance would kick him out, he would return home a new man. Ma would have new respect for how much Dad really did around the house and they would comfortably slip into their rut.

Last week in the middle of the daily update from the contractor on the progress of the bathroom renovation, the phone rang. There was a cough, a wheeze, a sneeze and raspy breathing. If it wasn’t for caller ID, I’d assume it was a crank call.

“I won’t be able to walk downtown to mail you the payment for the telephone bill,” Dad croaked.

“Don’t worry about that. What’s wrong with you?”

“I don’t feel so good. I’ve been coughing and my throat is sore. I think I better go to the hospital.”

Now my first instinct was to worry. “You can’t walk up there in this heat! I’ll call Himself at school. He has an early day so he can swing by and take you.”

“No, I don’t want to bother him.”

“He’ll take you.”

“No, no, I…I can make it.”

Then it hit me. In Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, Marc Antony offers the laurel crown to Caesar to become Emperor.

“Cesare, c’mon. Take the crown. You’re the best man for the job.”

“No, really, Antony, I’m not worthy.”

“We need you to be Emperor!”

“No, I…I can’t.”

“Please, take the crown”

“Oh, alright, if you insist.”

That’s what Dad was doing. Dad was refusing the offer of a ride. How sick could he be if couldn't walk to the post office to mail the phone bill payment, but he could walk the extra mile to the hospital. He just wanted a little tea and sympathy. It had been a good 5 or 6 years since he had a little vacation at St. Elegius’ Hospital. He just needed a little time away from Ma and her homeopathic cure for the common cold, a good swig of vinegar and lemon juice with a salt water chaser. He’s lucky. When I was a kid, her cure du jour was a Fleet.

So, I clucked sympathetically. “Do you still have your white belt and white shoes?”

“Yes, why?”

“If you want a vacation, instead of checking into the hospital for a few days, it might be cheaper to book a trip to Florida.”


Erica Vetsch said...

A Fleet!!!! I'm dying! No, wait, don't tell your mom, she might have a cure for that too!

nutterone said...

Poor papa... Course, if my papa ever dons a white belt and shoes, he's going directly to a home. *grin*