Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Time My Mother Went Crazy in the Hospital Waiting Room

When I was in my early 20s, my dad fell ill with a severe infection.  It landed him in the VA hospital for treatment and what turned out to be a series of surgeries, some a 4-hour drive from my parents' home on account of his needing specialized care.  I lived halfway across the country, but we were in regular contact by phone and email by this time.  My mother seemed pretty crazy by this time. 

The night before one of his surgeries across the state, my mother called me in a panic.  She demanded I make her same-day flight arrangements so that she could be by her husband's side for the surgery.  "He's my husband!  I need to be with him!" she cried.  Without hanging up the phone, I warned my dad by email, as we always warned each other back then.  Even on her best day, he didn't want her there. 

I looked at flights online and explained that there were no direct flights -- not that night, not ever -- from their hometown to the hospital.  It was only a 4-hour drive.  Getting to the airport and through security would take 2 hours on its own.  She grew more upset.  What were the flight options? she wanted to know.  The best one involved flying a few states away and back again.  It would take a total of 8 hours and cost over $1k on account of the short notice.  When I refused to buy her a ticket on my credit card, she lost her temper and said she'd just figure it out herself.

I don't know why she didn't just drive her car, but my mother ended up taking a Greyhound bus across the state, followed by a taxi to the hospital.  When she arrived, visiting hours were long past, so she screamed at the nurses.  My dad said he could hear her down the hall when she arrived.  When she got to his room, she told him she needed money for a hotel.  She said she hadn't brought any with her.  I don't know where all her credit cards were, but my dad told her he'd left his wallet and cash at home on account of being in the hospital.  She went to the waiting room to move furniture loudly in an effort to create a makeshift bed.  Security eventually escorted her out.

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