We planned to leave in convoy. Sarah with Lyla in her car, and I - in my brother's car.
I've enjoyed driving my brother's car. It is roomy, not too low to the ground and smooth. Furthermore, the boot is so big, it can fit two wheelie walkers, side by side, without threat to the upholstery. Plus shopping. It holds All of our shopping!
Sarah had a medical appointment, a date with the grocery stores and it was her day to visit with the Grands. I, on the other hand was accompanying her on her medical appointment and planned to pick up Grandpa so that we could both visit Granny in hospital.
Mam had been admitted to hospital last night. Paramedics had attended her at home, directed by a wonderful system called "Care Call".
(When Mam or Dad press a button on pendants worn around their necks, a call centre is alerted, details taken and an ambulance is sent straight away, if needed. Care Call then contact me - as the "Responsible Person" to let me know as many details as possible).
This is her second stint in hospital within one and a half weeks - due to completely different medical emergencies. It has been extremely hard getting answers as to her diagnosis. Nurses are run off their feet, doctors are doing rounds. Nothing new, even though one sort of expects time and surveys, coupled with political promises to improve conditions within hospitals. Eventually, anyway.
After being told that Mam was due to have x-rays, an echocardiogram and other tests, I stalled picking up Dad to visit her, as I knew this would fluster her. Being of the old school, she simply hates to "impose" in any way - including having visitors in her room at the same time as doctors nurses and other professionals and 'important' people. Just in case we get in the way or under their feet.
She looked pale. And tired. Her green eyes were deep set within her beautiful aged face. When she blinked, her eyelids closed and reopened as if in slow motion, just like you see on the movies. She seemed small and frail - nothing like the wiry woman I'm so accustomed to. The pillows looked too plumped, and seemed to envelope her frame. She was sitting with both arms upward facing, exposing blood filled needles within mini syringes, - taped to her crepe-like skin.
And how, pray, had she earned all those tiny bruises on her forearms?
"Hey up, Ma, what are you doing in here AGAIN?" I teased
"Hello love… it's my COPD. I couldn't get breath. They had to come for me. Was it Sunday, Brian?", she enquired of my dad, who was wearing his puzzled brow, trying to remember himself.
"No, Ma - it was last night - Monday"
"Monday? It seems longer than that…"
For the next couple of hours, Dad dozed off on in a high backed hospital chair, while mam and my conversations were prone to double handling: Mam's hearing aid was spitting and whistling, rejecting a used up battery, and most of my contribution was repeated, LOUDLY as she simply couldn't hear me. I was becoming ever-conscious of not only the lady in the bed opposite Mams, but wide eyed and enquiring looks from hospital staff as they passed in the corridor.
The lady in the bed opposite took the opportunity of getting involved in our subject topics and I was immediately promoted to the LOUD translator.
"She's a happy soul. I knew it", Mam observed, as "Debbie" was mid sentence in explaining her current unplanned weight loss problem. "I knew it from the moment I saw her…"
"My mam says you're a happy soul"
"Oh that's nice of her. Are you Irish?"
"No, we're from the midlands…"
"Oh, I thought you were Irish. I wasn't sure, though. Anyway, I'm Debbie. What's your name?"
"Mam, this is Debbie"
"Debbie Lewis? Yes, I can see it on your board…"
"Debbie, this is Joan"
"Hello Joan, pleased to meet you"
"I can't hear a word she said, Helen. My hearing aid is playing up…"
Debbie laid her head back on her pillow, closing her eyes and smiled at the same time.
She really is a happy soul.
"Ma, Sarah is popping round to your place. Would you like her to bring anything else?"
"I can't really think. It's hard to think when you're like this.."
"I know it is, Ma. It'll all be ok"
"Could she bring my green cardigan? I got it ready with the other clothes I was going to wear before I came in here."
"Sure she can. I'll ask her to bring them, too - and I'll wash the clothes you came in last night"
"I've got a couple of shirts and pants. Blue shirts. Oh and some socks…" Dad joined in.
"She's talking about MY washing Brian…"
"Oh, of course. You can pick mine up later."
As I was about to answer him, his eyes had already closed and he was dozing again.
"Isn't she a sweetheart. She knows you, Helen. She knows her mama. Look at her smiling at Helen, Brian…"
Lyla continued smiling at me. Staring at me intently. Her eyes smiled too. Sarah went to heat her bot-bot. I fed and burped her. Facing me, all rugged up in a pale pink hooded woollen jacket with woollen pants to match, she continued to smile at me as I sang to her softly.
Walking into the kitchen at home, Keiralea cam running to me "Mama, Mama, I was waiting for you!"
"Hello my daaaarling", I responded, picking her up and gently fairy kissing her head.
"Why do you do that, Mama?"
"Because I love you"
"I love you too"