For a short delusional period this morning, I thought I had a day to just kick back and relax. Then I remembered I was taking Mom to the hospital to see my brother. So rather than drifting back into the dream I was having about going on a trip with an empty suitcase, I staggered to the kitchen to fix a pot of coffee. I just can’t pry my eyes open until I’ve had a cup of coffee.
When Jim and I were first married, I didn’t drink coffee. I thought the stuff was a bit on the bitter side and just didn’t have any appeal for me. I blame my coffee drinking habit on Jim’s grandma. Apparently, she thought everyone drank coffee and as soon as we walked into her house, she plunked a strong cup of coffee in front of me.
The conversation always went something like this:
"Grandma, I don’t drink coffee.”
“What? You don’t drink coffee?” The look on her face was priceless. She would look at Jim and say, “She doesn’t drink coffee?”
“No Grandma, she doesn’t drink coffee.” Then Jim would look at me and grin because he knew what was coming next.
“But, I’ve already poured it!” Like that was the final say. There I would sit: cup of coffee in front of me, Grandma expecting me to drink it, and husband who thought it was funny.
So, I would take a small sip and try not to shudder. First chance I got, I poured it down the sink. When we went for the next visit, the scene played again. Eventually, I just drank the cup of coffee treating it like a dose of medicine. Get it down and get it over with, except, when she kept refilling my empty cup—then, I learned to make it last longer.
Now, I need no urging to drink coffee and feel downright deprived if I can’t have a cup of Joe in the morning. After coffee and a quick shower, I was dressed and out the door. On the long drive to my mom’s house, I roamed through the XM stations on my radio trying to find something she would like to hear. I just knew she wouldn’t appreciate the Classic Rock channel. I came across enLighten and knew the gospel music would be a hit with her.
Listening to the sweet, almost angelic, harmony, I found myself thinking deep thoughts. The kind of thoughts Jim and I used to share about life, death, and all the unexplained things that happen in between. Of course, one of the first things I question is why did Jim develop dementia and why did his life end at the age I am now. I wonder why my brother keeps having strokes. It seems that if I think things can’t get any worse, they can and sometimes do.
My brother already lives in a nursing home and can’t walk, has constant pain, endless headaches, and basically a pretty miserable existence. He is in the hospital because of more strokes. His speech is slurred and hard to understand. He has trouble swallowing and has to be on thickened liquids and mechanically softened foods.
When Mom and I walk into his room, we find Donnie twisted to one side of his bed. He asks us to straighten him up. I push and Mom tugs and we get him in a more comfortable position. After Food Service brings his lunch tray, the nurse wants to move him into a more upright position in the bed. She calls an aide to help her.
“She can help you,” Donnie tells the nurse pointing in my direction.
“Can you?” she asks.
Of course, I can. After all the time Jim spent in the nursing home, I learned how to do everything to make him more comfortable.
On the way to Mom’s house, the hospital called to tell her Donnie had been released. He has to return in about a month for surgery, but for now, he is headed home.
After I dropped Mom off, I did more deep thinking to the backdrop of gospel music. The trip home seemed faster than the trip down. When I reached Sedalia, I stopped by McDonald’s for a cup of Joe—only I got a Mocha Frappe. I can only imagine what Grandma Fisher would think of such a sissy version of coffee. I don’t think Jim would be impressed either—he liked his coffee steaming hot and black. He would appreciate the gospel music, I’m sure, and he would have enjoyed the long drive on a beautiful October day.
Copyright © October 2010 L. S. Fisher