My twin brother gave me this 'inspirational' poster for X-Mas. He picked it up at a museum in Chicago.
It's the first inspirational poster that I didn't hate on sight. I loved it.
4 pm, Christmas evening. The food was ready.
The Twin had just finished setting the table, so I walked into the living room and announced that dinner was served, come on in and have a seat...it's a small Christmas, but there's a huge feast awaiting!
Instead of enthusiasm, my father and uncle displayed worry. Why worry? I've been cooking for thirty years and haven't killed anyone yet.
My Grandmother was not feeling well. She was having difficulty breathing.
I leaned in closely so I could hear what she was saying.
So I went to her room to gather a few articles of clothing while my father fetched her cane and the Twin prepared her portable oxygen tank. The whole thing had the feeling of a drill
but it was not a drill; ten minutes later we were gathered in the waiting room of the local hospital's Emergency Room.
A nurse escorted my Gran, my father and myself into an examination room. The Twin and my uncle waited outside while the lady asked the requisite questions and took the obligatory measurements. On a scale of 1 to 10, my grandmother rated her pain a '12'. She's been sick for years, terribly ill at times but she has never exceeded a '10' before...could she please get some pain medicine? But her blood pressure was too low for that...she was wheeled into another room where the nurse started hooking her to tubes and machines .
My father and I were banished to the ER waiting room, where it was decided that we would take 'shifts' going back to the house to eat...the Twin and I would go second, so we sat in the ER and watched a CSI marathon on the TV. At first, I felt that an endless barrage of simulated autopsy footage was inappropriate fare for a hospital waiting room but after about forty minutes I was engrossed, wondering who murdered the Crazy Cat Lady.
I never found out, but it was a welcome distraction while we waited...our wait was interrupted by the nurse, who informed us that they were waiting on tests and the arrival of another doctor.
Nothing to do but wait some more...eventually it was our turn to go home and eat.
By this time it was after 7 pm and the food, which had been abandoned when we rushed to hospital, had gotten cold and dry and was about as appetizing as paste...we ate anyway, we would need our strength, we reasoned. It was likely to be a long night.
When we returned to hospital, we learned that they had decided to admit my Grandmother- no surprise, really. We were allowed to go back and see her; she had stabilized enough to be given a bit of morphine...the nurse kept up a steady stream of banal questions as she administered the drug- after a minute or so, our Gran's answers started getting fuzzy and her pain had gone down to a "six or the number like six". The dope was working.
Then she started to vomit.
The last time I saw someone vomit in a hospital, the person I saw was myself; I was observing from a vantage point several feet outside and above my body, which was entering a grande mal seizure.
It's not something I like to think about, so I usually don't- but all the sights, sounds and smells were the same.
I started gasping and my vision was flashing white, black, white...the next thing I knew I was in the hallway, being held by a family friend as I bawled my eyes out. After that- a long while after that- I was able to pull myself together and assist the lone nurse as she navigated the gurney down the corridor to the elevator and up to my Gran's new room, where she was placed on a real bed and further sedated. Finally, she was calm and quiet and there was nothing for us to do but return to the family house.
It was after midnight. Christmas was over.
What should we do with our gifts?
My father, amazingly, was the one who stepped up. We need to exchange the gifts, he said.
He was right. We needed to. We did.
So I got the poster above...and this t-shirt( below, front and back), which, as I told my brother, is the best T-shirt ever. The Twin knows how I feel about signal flow.
My father gave me a 'Car Talk' CD of songs about car trouble (ha!), which is something that I can use for my radio shows and a book called Auto Repair for Dummies...I gave him my old set of PC speakers so that he could listen to me play the CD in hi-fi. In our family, there is not much stigma on the giving of 'hand-me-downs' as gifts, it makes sense to us...why throw away an item that works fine and then spend money on replacing it?
I also got a set of Pyrex cookware and a shower curtain, two things I can certainly use...I actually asked for the shower curtain- I've already been fixing my own meals and doing my own laundry for decades- if I were to actually go shopping for a shower curtain I am afraid I might be lurching into metro-sexuality, a leap I'm not prepared to make- so I asked my Gran for a 'sensible' curtain. She came through- solid blue, no frilly floral pattern crap. Right on!
Best of all, the Twin gave me a new compact audio mixer, a TAPCO (below). My old Behringer died months ago and I've been feeling bereft ever since...now I can re-create the signal flow diagram as illustrated on the world's greatest t-shirt, above.
My uncle had to work today, so we left home early this morning...there was very little traffic, the interstate highway is a strange place at 3 am...especially the day after Christmas.
Today, I slept later than I have for months- well into the afternoon.
The Twin remained at home, waiting...as of an hour ago, Gran was unchanged, still stable- we continue to wait.
At first, I felt guilty about hooking up my new mixer and playing guitar until my fingers hurt- I mean, my Gran is in ICU and I'm playing guitar...but then I looked at my new inspirational poster and I knew that I was doing the right thing.
Other than wait, there is nothing else to do.