The stories within the story

Yesterday was quite the eventful day. As it turned out, it would be a story that actually contained many smaller but hugely significant stories.

Saturday night Mom and the boyfriend came back from dinner at around 7PM. He came in the door like a whirlwind and headed right to the bathroom and vomited. Mom came in a moment later and said that they had a wonderful dinner but the fish must have been too spicy. He went into the bedroom soon after and went to bed. He slept.

This morning when he woke he was feeling nauseous again and began shaking uncontrollably. I called 911, put the dog out back so that he wouldn’t be in the way and went to the end of the road to flag down the ambulance. Considering how remote we are I was impressed with how quickly the police arrived. The ambulance was only 2 minutes behind. I directed them into the driveway and then stayed on the deck to not be in the way. He was taken to the hospital moments later, Mom opted to stay behind with a promise that she would pack a bag and meet him there soon.

After the dust settled, the coffee was poured and the dog was let back into the house, I looked at my mother’s face. She was trying to hide it but I knew what she was thinking.

Not again

As I stated at the beginning of this post, there is a lot of subtext in this story. Let’s start with the basics. My mother buried two husbands in 3 years. She cared for my father as Parkinson’s ravaged his body for 8 years. It took a tremendous toll on her. The ambulance came to this house many times during that 8 year period.

When he passed in 2013, she met another man 6 months later. Deciding that life is too short to worry about what others (me included) thought, she began dating Frank. At approximately one year into their relationship, he had a heart attack while driving and hit a tree head-on. The boat in tow crashed through the cabin of the truck and narrowly missed killing them both. He was badly hurt, my mother was unscathed. He would do his rehab in the same room (subtext) that my father passed away in at the rehab center. As she sat by his side she thought to herself, I can’t be a caretaker for another man. This is too much. He recovered, moved into her house and they got married. 3 months after the wedding, he was admitted to the hospital…by ambulance…from this house…for weakness and chest pain. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and died 10 days later.

Reluctantly, after about 9 months my mother began dating David. He is not without issues but to our knowledge, he is overall free from crippling medical issues. This morning, as the ambulance kicked up a big cloud of dust on the way out of our driveway, she was telling herself again…I can’t be a caretaker to another man.

I drove her to the hospital. It was the least that I could do to make it easier for her. The good news is that it’s only a UTI. With some rest, antibiotics and a few days away from the trans-gendered, intravenous-drug-using Philipino prostitutes he should be a new man.

Despite the anti-climactic ending to his ambulance ride, there are two more asides to the story that continue to resonate with me.

One is the dog. Our cute little Lhasa Apso is 12. For those who may think that dogs are dumb with only Short Term Memories I assure you they are not. He was there for all of the 911 calls to our house for my dad and Frank. He loves the alpha-male and is very drawn to the men in the house. The way he acted today after he saw the EMT’s has me convinced that he knows what it means, he has seen it before and he is really upset. He has been acting strange all day. And Dave doesn’t even live here. Smart dog.

The last, and possibly most disturbing piece of subtext is that of family dysfunction. Frank went through a nasty divorce many years before he met Mom and one of his boys never spoke to him after the divorce. I don’t know why, Frank swore that his son simply chose his mother. They both moved up here from MA many years ago and lived one town apart. Frank’s son became an EMT in our town. He was on the scene when his father was rushed to the hospital from this house and he was here today. When I saw him I was simply amazed at how cold the human heart can be. He never acknowledged his father during the entire time he was treating him, the ride to the hospital or after. He didn’t even attend the funeral. And today, he didn’t even give my mother, his father’s second wife, the courtesy of a hello. I hope I never become that cold-hearted towards anyone.

So much happened in one day. It was a lot to process. But the fortunate thing is, despite all of the bad memories and associations, David is going to be OK and my mother doesn’t have to worry about again assuming the role of caregiver.

It’s time for her to live her own life.