"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Friday, June 18, 2004
current Function: noun
1 a : the part of a fluid body (as air or water) moving continuously in a certain direction b : the swiftest part of a stream c : a tidal or nontidal movement of lake or ocean water d : flow marked by force or strength
2 a : a tendency or course of events that is usually the result of an interplay of forces b : a prevailing mood : STRAIN
3 : how life moves, dragging us along with it.
My sister and I looked from the hospital waiting room window as the semi truck passed, throwing up a two foot high wake that swamped some poor person's parked car for at least the hundredth time.
It had already been a long day, and it was only 10am.
The day before, I had driven my mother 100 miles to my sister's house in Charleston, SC, where my mother was to have a heart catherization. My sister and her permanent boyfriend live in a charming small home in a pretty area of Charleston. They share the home with a skittish but well loved cat named "Sugar", a boat, and an old fish that likes to occasionally swim upside down "just for fun."
We had arrived a bit early, which was good because the cat was ill and my sister needed us to catch it and take it to the vets where she would meet us on her way home from work. We searched the house all over for the cat and finally found it under a bed. I crawled behind the bed and got on the floor, looking the cat right in the eyes. I think she could tell I was no threat, but she also could tell that there was a strange man under her master's bed.
Confronted with this obvious threat on the home front, she did what all cats do in that situation. She turned and walked calmly the other way. Mom grabbed her and popped her in the carrier.
We took her to the vet and checked in, then sat down to wait. Sugar was the only cat. The rest of the waiting room was filled with dogs who were all sitting there with their legs shaking. Sugar, obviously, had concluded that a trip to the vet was secondary compared to the fact that people that had no business in her house had tricked her and brought her there.
My sister arrived and they took the cat in almost right afterward. It's gonna be fine, but she is going to have to take a few pills for a while.
The cat, not my sister.
I think she already has pills.
On the way home my sister calls my cell phone from her car about half a mile ahead. "When you cross this bridge, look on the right and you'll see a guy that looks just like Jesus walking over it." OK, I said, we would look for him.
We came to the bridge, and there he was. Long flowing hair, white robes, barefoot. His face was different from the paintings, but he did have a disciple with a knapsack with him.
My phone rang again. Again, my sister. In a strange tone of voice she asks "You did see him right?" Sure we did. "You sure you saw him?" I resisted the urge to take advantage of her and assured her that yes, we did see him, he was as real as mud. That put her mind at ease.
The next morning we got up before the crack of dawn so my Mom could be at the Medical University of South Carolina hospital for her heart cath. We all rode together in my sister's car, parked way up in the garage, and crossed the road to the hospital.
Of course, the halls were full of students rushing here and there. I have no idea why every time we walked in they were apparently having a class change. Either that, or a bunch of them were hiding around the corner going "OK, here they come...GO!"
Eventually, we did in fact make our way to the waiting room and check in area. They took Mom back and my sister and I took turns going back and sitting with her since her cubicle was so tiny.
She was getting really nervous, which is very understandable. A heart cath can in fact cause a heart attack or death in some cases. The ratio is like one in three hundred, which is "acceptable" but hardly confidence inspiring. At that rate, there would be well over 1,500 misspelled words in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Anxiety, at least on Mom's part, would soon be handled with a magic shot. My sister and I would have to tough it out in the waiting room.
When they were ready to take her, we prayed for her and headed for our seats for our vigil.
We grabbed a quick breakfast at the cafeteria then headed back upstairs. While we had been there it had started to rain. And not just any rain, but a gullywasher frogdrowning kind of rain. Here it was early morning and it looked like twilight outside.
My sister, who had just walked by the picture windows in the waiting room, called me over. I looked out. "Oh my God!" I exclaimed.
Below me on the street by the hospital, someone had made a very bad mistake. They had parked their car beside the street in a low lying area.
The hospital is located in Charleston, a seacoast town. When you take low lying, seacoast town, heavy rain, and high tide and mix them together, well, it's a mess. And this car was getting the brunt of it.
The water was already at least a foot deep and rising.
Every car that passed drew a wake and a roostertail that came higher and higher on the car. Soon, the water was over the opening to the trunk and surely filling the inside of the car as well. When bigger trucks passed the waves crested the trunk.
Another person in the waiting room heard us and came over to look. "Oh my God!" he said.
Then another couple of ladies came over. "Oh my God!" they gushed, in unison.
From there we saw a steady stream of patients, family members, nurses and hospital staff, each of them looking out the window and every single last one of them saying "Oh my God!" on cue.
That's when the nurse came over. "The doctor is finished with your mother's cath, and he wants to see you in the conference room."
My sister turned white. The nurse showed us to the conference room. "They have never asked to go into the conference room before," my sister said.
"Perhaps this doctor just likes doing it this way," I said. I was probably not very convincing, but she smiled and we sat and waited.
Soon the doctor came in and told us the complete rundown. Seems that nothing was wrong, no blockages, stents were holding out, everything was clear. All the news was good.
For those who prayed, thanks, it worked.
My sister wanted to take me to lunch for a belated birthday present, and we went to a really cool restaurant called California Dreaming. California Dreaming is designed to look like a civil war fort and the food and atmosphere were top notch. If you ever go, here's a hint: seating in the restaurant section can get very backed up, but there is also seating in the bar area at tables that may be available right away just by asking.
When Mom was up and around, we took her home. By then the flood waters had subsided completely and the street that had been so flooded earlier hardly had a puddle on it. Amazing.
Glad that wasn't my car though.
Long story short, everything worked out as good as it possibly could have. Mom's home and feeling well, I'm home and feeling well, and I think my sister is out on her boat today.
Things are back to normal.
Ain't that a nice feeling?
We should manage our fortunes as we do our health - enjoy it when good, be patient when it is bad, and never apply violent remedies except in an extreme necessity.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613 - 1680)