Primo: I'm on my way to the hospital. They thought they were going to do the surgery today so my mom was under orders not to eat as of midnight last night. Then they didn't do the surgery and she didn't get to eat until late afternoon. I am taking her some frozen yogurt.
Me: Good. Lots of calories.
Primo: She doesn't like the high-calorie shakes at the hospital.
Me: Those are nasty. I used to go to Wendy's to get shakes for my dad.
Primo: My dad is starting to get emotional. He hasn't admitted guilt, but when they did the scan today, they had to give my mom iodine. She is allergic, so they also had to give her steroids. They were having a hard time with her veins and she was saying it hurt so much and my dad was by her and he was crying.
Me [long pause]: It sounds awful.
Primo: She told me she was in such pain that she thought she would rather be dead. My dad was shocked.
Me: But she has expressed suicidal thoughts to you many times.
Primo: Yeah, but my dad didn't know that she had shared that sort of thing with me.
Primo: They might do the surgery tomorrow. They think for sure they are going to put a blocker in her vein to keep blood clots from getting to her heart. They might do the orthopedic surgery then as well.
Me: I hope it goes well. Have you thought of maybe taking a photo of you and Nancy to put by her bed? And maybe some flowers?
Primo: No! I haven't even gotten her flowers.
Me: You've been sucked into the details. But flowers or a plant. Some of her books. And she hasn't had her hair washed for a week.
Primo: The nursing homes I toured have salon services one day a week.
Me: Pay them to give her a pedicure and a manicure. She has never had one and it would be a nice thing for her.
Primo: That's a nice idea. Hey. I'm almost at her room. You're being so nice and supportive - would you talk to her?
Me: Oh man! Really?
Primo: Please. She feels so awful.
Me: Fine. But only for one minute. You break in and say the yogurt is melting.
Doris: Hi Goldie.
Me: Hi Doris. I am so sorry you are not doing well.
Doris: I am in pain.
Me: I'm sorry. It sounds like nobody there knows what's going on, either.
Doris: No. Every day, it's a different story.
Me: I was telling Primo that maybe he could bring you some books tomorrow.
Doris: I can't read. I can't watch TV.
Me: So you're in pain, it's boring, and the food is probably not very good.
Me: I am sorry. I have been praying for a quick, easy surgery.
Doris: I am sorry for ruining your lives and taking Primo away from you these past months.
Me: Well, it's not like you did this on purpose. [Although if they had moved into assisted living two years ago and if Sly hadn't been so stupid, this would not be happening. However, Doris is not the one who got drunk and fell on her own knees. It is Sly in whose face I want to stick my finger and scream, "What the F were you thinking? You let a frail, malnourished woman lie immobile and in horrible pain for FOUR DAYS - after YOU fell on her and injured her - and DID NOT CALL FOR HELP? What kind of miserable SOB are you?"]
Doris: I am sorry.
Me: Let's just get you better and then let's get you in a situation where you will be more comfortable.
Doris: Thank you. And I am sorry for taking your husband away.
Me: Well, he is your son. You did have him first.
Doris: I loved him so much.
Me: Doris, you did a great job raising him. You raised a wonderful man. You have a wonderful son.
Doris [crying]: OK. I better not get maudlin.
Me: No. Don't do that.
Doris: I will give you back to Primo.
Me: OK. Feel better.