Sunday, April 2


I spent part of my weekend in the hospital. No need to elaborate other than that it involved blood, pain, and that demon spawn abomination of human invention, needles.

The universe works in strange and wonderful ways to teach those with eyes to see. My most recent lesson came in two parts.

Part The First
Wating in the doctor's office, a movement caught my eye. Across the waiting room was a little boy of three or four. He had on chaps, cowboy boots, a holster, vest and a kerchief. In the chair next to his mother were the tools of his trade: a six-shooter, a wide-brimmed cowboy hat, and a picture book. He took a long draw of milk from his water bottle (every cowpoke west o' the Pecos knows how dry the desert is) just before the nurse called his mother's name. Like a good cowboy, he holstered his six-gun, pulled his hat rakishly over his eyes, cradled his picture book with two hands, and sauntered after his mother with all the confidence of a well-seasoned ranch hand.

Which, of course, as anyone should plainly see, he was.

Part The Second
"This is worrisome," the doctor said. "I'll call the emergency room. Go now." Within twenty minutes, I was in the gown, lying on a gurney with too few blankets, plugged into an IV drip. Beyond the curtain separating me from the next patient, I heard words like Alzheimers and incontinence and kidney failure. I tried to empty my mind of the sounds and smells of the hospital and concentrate on my book. It didn't work. I asked directions to the bathroom. On the way back I saw that the curtains of my sick neighbor were drawn back. On her gurney lay an elderly woman, thin hair slicked back with sweat. Even under several blankets it was plain how thin and frail she was. What haunted me were her eyes. They were wide and sunken. In them could be seen anger, fatigue, bewilderment.

And fear.

Two ends of the thread of life curved, met, and made the circle while I observed.

One person was at the beginning of his life, looking forward with courage and curiosity.

One person was nearing the end of her life, looking inward with questions and surrender.

And I, reckoning that a few years less than my grandfather's lifespan is a pretty good run, realized that I was exactly in the middle.


Bebti said...

Sorry you had such a scare, but I'm glad it all turned out ok. You're not allowed to leave just yet.

The little boy reminds me of another "fwee yeahs ohd cowboy" I know...wait a minute, that was me.

A person could only hope to live as long and full a life as our grandfather.

Kingfisher said...

Older brother flashed HUGELY on younger brother with the sight of that sweet "fwee yeeh ohd kowboi" child.

Thank you, my beloved brother. Part of this story was for you.

Erica said...

I'm glad to hear you are (presumably) all right, as well.

[I presume only because I might be willing to blog all the way to the grave, if able, writing it all down.]

Another reason to savor every moment, even the scary ones, just as you posted earlier this week. Here's hoping you continue on in good health for years to come!

KOM said...


Ranch hands shouldn't know about the pain to come.

The elderly shouldn't forget about the wonders that have been.

Those of us in the middle of the cycle have time to worry about the welfare of the rest. I can only hope that this concern is unwarranted.

Anonymous said...

Very good post. Having spent a bit of time in the hospital this week, I know what a place of stark contrasts it can be.

When I was a volunteer at the University Medical Center, I had seen both ends of life: A tiny newborn only 2 hours old, and a man who was being taken off of life support after a severe heart attack. And there was everything in between in that place... but mostly pain.

I hope that all is well with you; that you're healthy and stay around for a long, long time...

jazz bird said...

Hey, hey, leave the ER to the professional, huh? It's no place for amateurs ;)

Seriously, I hope all is well.