A year ago on this date, one of my customers called. His business partner had a stroke that morning and was in the ICU. I get to know and love my customers and considered this woman a friend as well as customer. I got in the car, stopped for a handful of flowers, and headed to the ICU.
When I walked in, she looked like a crumpled bird lying in the bed. So small. She was out. I know now that she was heavily sedated to give her body a rest. There was one other person in the room sitting in a chair. I didn’t recognize him, but I sat down next to him. I had my flowers, but realized they weren’t allowed in the ICU, so I put them on the window sill behind her bed, hoping nobody would toss them out. I don’t know why those flowers were so important to me. They were so pathetic when I think back. I didn’t grab one of those pretty bouquets. For some reason I just grabbed a small bunch of something I don’t know the name of. I put them in a mason jar, and that was my bouquet. Not exactly the fancy stuff you usually see in hospitals. The nurse said the flowers could stay.
We sat. She was out. The nurse came to take her for some testing, wheeled her back when they were done. She started to get a little agitated, trying to get comfortable, though still pretty out of it. The other man in the room stood up and started adjusting her pillows, pulled up the covers, helped her get situated…and, she was out again…..
We chatted. When he laughed, he kept putting his hand to his mouth. It reminded me of when I was a kid and really shy. My mom was trying to have a nice picture taken of me, my brother and sister. I was about 5. Every time the photographer went to snap a shot, up my hand went to my mouth. I still remember that. The final picture was of my hand halfway up to my mouth. I just could not smile without doing that.
Every now and then Tonya would throw off her covers when she moved around. Without interrupting the conversation, he got up, covered a shoulder, covered a foot, straightened everything up, sat back down, kept talking to me. And, I loved that he did it without making a big show of it. He just did it. He was making sure she was covered and cared for and didn’t seem to be doing it to impress anybody. It looked too automatic. When I described this person to a group of women I’ve known forever, I began referring to him as SirG, for Sir Galahad. Because, his behavior just seemed so gallant.
This is another thing I remember, shoot me if it’s silly, but he had great hamstrings. I’m sorry, I had to get that out there. He was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans and when he would get up to cover her back up, I noticed the back of his legs. And, the reason I noticed is that hamstrings aren’t usually all that visible when you are wearing loose jeans unless you are in really great shape. Look at the picture at the top. So there. That’s what I noticed. Other than the fact that he so easily got up to cover Tonya when she was exposing herself and covered his mouth when he laughed….I began to wonder if he was missing his front teeth. I know it’s crazy, but why else cover your mouth so much? What’s wrong with me that I automatically thought that?
The next time I came back, she was a little more lucid and he was there too. Tonya was awake, but not really with it. She was agitated, hot, thirsty, tossing around……She said, “It helps me sleep if you two talk. It makes me feel surrounded by family.” So, we talked. For hours. I had my knitting and got to know SirG. This became the routine. I would come to visit and knit while I talked to SirG as he got up and down making sure Tonya wasn’t exposed or thirsty or whatever.
He told me about his family (14 siblings!!!). He told me about his parents, Amish. He told me that when his parents got to be in their 90′s, the siblings all chipped in to help them so they could stay together in their house. The boys each took turns taking a month off work to live in the house with the parents to care for them. The girls took care of the day to day stuff like cooking, doctors appointments, making sure they had what they needed, etc…. As he told me this he continued to get up when Tonya needed water, covered her when she kicked off her sheet and I thought, “This is a guy who doesn’t run away”
It was time for me to go. He took my number. “Just in case…” : )
(More to come…..)